The company’s goal is to demystify computers, tables and smartphones for people who didn’t grow up using them.
Navigating the online world can be difficult, especially for older people who didn’t grow up with technology. Seeking the usual “tech help” can result in a barrage of confusing terms that can be intimidating.
GroovyTek’s founders Matt Munro and Alex Rodas started the company in 2015 with people over 40 in mind after they found their parents needed help with technology. They recognized there was a niche for personalized help to enable people to grasp technology in relatable, understandable terms and become confident and competent enough to turn their frustrations into fun.
In November the company, headquartered in Denver, expanded to the South Florida market and opened its Boca Raton office. Both in-home and one-on-one phone sessions are available. More than 300 customers have been served from Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale, said Barry Rogers, GroovyTek’s vice president.
“We opened the office here in Boca Raton right before the pandemic,” Rogers said. “We had to morph into a different approach. In-home sessions were not going to work at the peak. We changed over to phone sessions, where we can remote into someone’s computer or do a Zoom meeting.”
The company is once again doing home visits, with employees wearing masks and gloves and using disinfectants, or customers can opt for service over the phone. Trainers either can remotely access a client’s computer or meet with them on Zoom.
“People over 50, anybody who has not been born and raised with technology, is a good candidate for us to be working with. We get a lot of calls from people in their 60s to late 80s and early 90s. It is pretty amazing to see people who are competent and living independently. They really want to understand and learn,” Rogers said.
With more people working from home, spending more time at home and children learning online from home, the demand for GroovyTek’s services has grown.
“Some customers have businesses out of their homes. They have attached themselves to us as their consultants. We work with them every week,” Rogers said
Assistance can range from teaching the client how to shop online, use email or texts, or master Facebook or an iPhone. It also can go as far as setting up a computer, iPad, smart home system, a Roomba robot vacuum or a remote garage-door opener.
“Our approach is so different. If people have two or three sessions with us, they recognize we are genuinely all about them,” Rogers said.
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Employees have often worked at an Apple store or on Best Buy’s Geek Squad before coming to GroovyTek, and must possess not only tech skills but also a desire to help people and work well and patiently with people, Rogers said.
“I recently hired someone with a nursing degree who decided she did not want to go into the medical field. She had an understanding of technology, and her real drive was to help people,” Rogers said.
“If we are doing an in-home session, we will find out what their needs are, whether they use an iPhone or an Android and expand off that,” Rogers said.
When setting up the appointment, GroovyTek employees ask what other technology they use at home, such as a computer or entertainment system and get a feel for the client’s computer aptitude. Some are fairly well-versed, while others know very little. Sometimes people aren’t even sure what they need, or what to ask, and that’s OK.
“We will adapt and be a chameleon to the environment we are going into. A lot of people move into a senior center or a new home. They get a great entertainment system or TV, but don’t have a clue about how to set it up. We also have a program called ‘Cutting the Cord,’ ” Rogers said.
“It’s private. You can ask us anything. There are no stupid questions,” Rogers said.
People have needed help for issues as basic as cutting and pasting a URL link or purchasing items through a website.
“We will provide whatever services people are looking for. We had a rabbi who wanted help with a Zoom session for a funeral. We set it up and stayed with him,” Rogers said.
Richard Sandulli, 80, of Palm Beach Gardens retired from the finance business in New York 22 years ago, and has found GroovyTek’s assistance invaluable. He had some computer skills but wanted to improve.
“They are very prompt and very knowledgeable. It is a darn good service,” Sandulli said. “People come down here who are 60 years old, even less. It is getting to the point that if you cannot do everything on the machine, you are in trouble.
“Those fellows do a good job. They spend as little or as much time as you need. They are very patient and help you work through everything,” Sandulli said.
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One customer loved the concept of a smart home but had no idea how to accomplish that. He was assisted in being able to control lights, shades, alarm system, drapes and entertainment system with an iPhone or an Alexa virtual assistant device.
GroovyTek trainers seek to be respectful of people, coming in alongside them to help them learn, not just to fix the problem and run.
“When our trainers are working with seniors, there is an epiphany at one point. A light bulb goes on, and the person understands. It is so empowering for them,” Rogers said.
Marketing has been through newspaper and television ads, and word-of-mouth.
The hourly rate is $150 with price breaks based upon the number of hours purchased or if you purchase a membership. An online membership is $49 and includes free access to on-demand content and videos on GroovyTek’s website and a reduced session rate of $100 an hour. A $299 annual membership includes one in-home session and after that a $100 per hour rate per session, plus one hour of over-the-phone support per month, as well as session notes and free access to members-only content.
GroovyTek’s in-home sessions are available in South Florida, the Phoenix and Denver areas, or remotely from anywhere in the world.
Rogers said the company, with a total of 35 to 40 employees working in its three markets, would like to expand to the west coast of Florida, Orlando and Tampa and eventually up the East Coast.
“We are growing organically. We want to make sure we cover and take care of all the areas we are in,” Rogers said.