Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Luke Cooper sat on a bus in Boulder, Colorado, years ago with all his communication lines cut for the entire day because he had broken his phone.
Instead of moping, getting angry or depressed, Cooper was inspired to create an on-demand device repair company known as Fixt in 2013 – described by Wall Street as one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country.
Cooper, founder and CEO of the company, said he “was inspired” by what some may describe as a frustrating situation “to create an easy, fast, and quality experience for people on the move.” He compares his business with Uber, but for smartphone and tablet repairs.
“Our whole lives are wrapped up in our mobile devices, when they stop, our productivity declines as well,” he said, explaining the company does off-site repairs where a technician will come to the user’s home or business.
Fixt raised nearly $4 million in venture funding from Silicon Valley, New York, and Baltimore investment firms, the online Color Magazine said.
Cooper, 42, an African American who grew up in a housing project in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said his interest in entrepreneurship started at age 12 when he built and sold a solar-powered microwave business.
“It won me my school’s business and science competition,” said Cooper who attended St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut. “I won a little money and some notoriety and from that point the proverbial die was cast.”
Cooper said he was raised by his mother after his father was incarcerated. During the time he was working on the solar-powered microwave business, his mother took him and his sister on a Cessna plane ride. That experience made him realize that “where I was, wasn’t who I was,” Cooper said in an interview.
Cooper described his mother as a “big believer” and said that “she did her best to get him what he needed.”
When Cooper graduated from the Trumbull prep school, he was offered a basketball scholarship to Adelphi University in Long Island, New York. He attended law school at Syracuse University, and after earning his Juris Doctorate in 2001, he completed his MBA degree at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. At the University of Chicago, he earned a graduate certificate in mergers and acquisitions.
Cooper is married to Marina Cooper, vice president for Towson University Marketing and Communications, and has two children: Lucas, 6, and Olivia, 8.
Cooper said one of the biggest moments that he faced at the beginning of building Fixt was finding out that his daughter, then 4, had cancer. Two days after finding this out, his daughter went into surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and has been cancer free since then.
Before Fixt, Cooper worked as a corporate attorney at DLA Piper and State Farm.
With close Towson connections, Cooper recently was invited to speak at the university’s
Entrepreneurship Unplugged, a speakers’ series that bring area business owners to the campus to give advice to students about their own companies.
Jan Baum, director of the Entrepreneurship Minor and the organizer of the speaker series, said the event provides students with real life examples. She said that Cooper was invited because he has a “very good reputation” and may network with students.
One student, Albert Ivory, a Towson sophomore, said the entire event was “very helpful,” especially the advice and information provided by Cooper.
“Everyone wants to build a big thing that is super automated,” Cooper told the students. “But it’s critical to understand the customer first and that requires lots of validated learning. In other words, think big but hack small at first.”
Cooper said that in his life, he is constantly trying to find ways to encourage people. The three things he would tell someone to encourage them would be to: “leverage resources they have around them, define their own path and embrace diversity.”