Elchonon Hellinger has tasted the bitter tears of failure. Hellinger, who founded Miami, Florida-based ThriftyComputer (ThriftyComputer.com) at the age of 19, saw that business crash and burn in early 2009 from inexperience.
“It was a very dreadful cycle of lack of cash, upset customers, (and the) company not functioning right,” Hellinger revealed. He had two junior partners who weren’t too into the business, and it didn’t help that Hellinger was struggling with health issues – he suffers from Type II neurofibromatosis, which causes benign tumors to grow. The rare disease made him deaf at the age of 18, and combined with the painful tumors on his hand made working on day-to-day operations at ThriftyComputer a living hell.
The failure drove Hellinger to near despair, except for the intervention of his younger brother Yosef, who sat Elchonon down and persuaded him to rebuild the company. Now 26 years of age, Elchonon is bent on putting the bad times behind him – but learning from the experience – and is focused on renewed growth for ThriftyComputer. Yosef, 22, who now works with him at the company, handles finance, customer service, shipping and overall business operations.
Originally, ThriftyComputer was built around drop-shipping computer accessories – offering low priced, high-quality products without compromising customer service experience. They’ve moved beyond that to specializing on refurbished as well as open box products. The company even offers an industry-leading warranty policy which covering all store-wide items for 60 days and open box products for 90 days. “We want buyers to buy with confidence as I know there’s a stigma with used or refurbished products, and one concern is the warranty,” Hellinger explains. “To that extent we are setting up the sale of a one-year warranty at a minimal price to further cater to our buyers.”
He says they are always looking or new and innovative ways to cut costs, and make things better for our customers. “When I go shopping, I always pick up on things I hate – long lines, rude staff, lack of support, arcane return policies etc – and stuff I love,” Hellinger adds.
“At the end of the day, I put myself in the same boat as my buyers.”
Hellinger was hoping to study law but going deaf, he says, “drained his ambition”. But he credits his mom for pushing him to find a respectable thing to do online. “In hindsight, it was a life-saver,” Hellinger remembers. And once he started ThriftyComputer, it began to grow beyond just a company or name – it became his dream.
“I want to build a great company to offer customers the service I myself want,” Hellinger insists. “And to prove that one can succeed despite any obstacles.”