Eek! Send a Geek!
YOUR HARD DRIVE HAS GONE SOFT. Your Apple is rotten. Your PC is DOA. Who ya gonna call? The Geek Squad, that’s who. A zootsuited “special agent” will rush to your door, flash his badge, slide in the squad’s diagnostic disk and, for $150 to $250 a job, vanquish your problem. Leaving a bill that says “Pay up, sucka,” he’ll mash down his fedora and dash off in one of seven Geek-mobiles—among them a red 1971 Alfa Romeo, a sea-foam green 1958 Simca Aronde, a black-and-white ’60 Ford Falcon and two ice-cream trucks painted SWAT-team black—to save another damsel or dude in digital distress.
There are thousands of computer repair services around the country, but none with the flair of Minneapolis’s 14-member Geek Squad. “People like to have us around,” says Robert Stephens, 28, a college dropout who started the company in April 1994. “They get a kick out of our style.”
Even Hollywood is impressed. In addition to assisting exasperated executives, the Geeks have provided tech support for several films shot in Minnesota, including Grumpier Old Men, Jingle All the Way and D3: The Mighty Ducks. Grumpier actor Kevin Pollak became a fan after he had trouble printing out a script. “Daryl Hannah suggested I call Robert—he’d helped her,” says Pollak. “He had it working in minutes.”
The 12-man, 2-woman crew expects to gross $1 million this year. “We’re all gonna be rich!” crows Alexander Weinandt, 25, an optimist and former tow truck driver. But the mastermind is Stephens, the son of a retired Navy officer and a homemaker, who was known in his hometown of Wheeling, Ill., as an artist, computer aficionado—and clown. In high school, he donned a cape and refused to accept his diploma at graduation until addressed as “Batman Stephens.” After stints at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Minnesota, he started the Squad with his $200 savings. “I had my 40-year-old midlife crisis at age 20,” says Stephens, who has nabbed a six-figure advance to write a humorous PC repair manual. “My whole family thought I was insane, but I knew I was on the right track.”