Online Owls launches yet another Uber for tech support

Ronny Kerr · October 20, 2015 · Short URL:

New entrant will be facing several established competitors: GeekSquad, Geekatoo, and HelloTech

What might seem repetitive to the journalist is a blessing to the consumer. After all, more competition means more choices, right?

Jumping into the already-crowded gig economy for tech support, Online Owls announced today that it is bringing its on-demand tech support services to the Washington area. Anyone having an issue with their computer, smartphone, or tablet can sign up with Online Owls to request help from a “prescreened and certified” technician in the area.

“There is a real need for technical support that is immediate, affordable and convenient that can come to your location when it fits your schedule,” said Bruno Bianchi, CEO and co-founder of Online Owls.

That’s probably true, which is why Online Owls isn’t the only company out there doing this.

HelloTech, based in Los Angeles and founded in 2014, has raised $17 million from Madrona Venture Group and others to provide in-person tech support representatives. Like Online Owls, the service charges $79 per hour for its service.

And Geekatoo, a 500 Startups graduate based in Mountain View, has offered the same service for a little longer than both HelloTech and Online Owls. Pricing for Geekatoo is a bit more involved complicated though.

General tech support "starts at" $35, TV mounting starts at $79, and Wi-Fi setup, according to the woman I spoke to through Geekatoo’s website, would cost a flat $99. She then put forth a noble effort to try selling me on the company's support plans. For example, the "green plan" ($79 setup fee, then $9 per month) covers tuneups, virus removals, e-mail support and a year of 24/7 instant remote support plus on-site service.

Of course, all these companies not only compete with each other but also with Geek Squad, the Best Buy subsidiary that may still be a household name for those of us that have actually stepped foot inside a Best Buy.

Like Geekatoo, Geek Squad charges differently if you’re a subscriber. For example, if you have a Geek Squad 24/7 Support plan, you pay a flat $50 for a home visit. But if you’re not a subscriber, then on-site computer setup starts at $100, TV and video setup starts at $150, and a Wi-Fi setup starts at $100.

Depending on how long their techs take to troubleshoot issues, Online Owls and HelloTech could be the less expensive options, though it’s hard to tell which company provides the best service. Additionally, both of these are relatively new entrants to this market, so it might simply be a matter of time before they add more complex tiers and subscription packages like Geekatoo and Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

I’ve reached out to Online Owls to see how they plan to stand out in this congested space, especially since their competitors already operate nationwide. I'll update when I hear back.

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