Tech Twurl:Whiz Kid Runs Online Enterprise From His Dorm Room

3/5/12Follow @XconomyDET

Usman Majeed is not your typical college student (though, admittedly, my concept of the modern college student is heavily shaped by Texts From Last Night). He studies neuroscience at Michigan State University in preparation for med school, and, in his off hours, he runs a successful online business called Tech Twurl, where he buys old electronics and resells them on eBay, Amazon, or to websites that buy the machines for parts. And if that’s not enough, he spent his most recent summer vacation launching a second startup: Unlock Inc., a service that jailbreaks iPhones and iPads.

How in the world does he find time to do all that? “It gets tricky,” he admits. “My parents always wanted me to take the medical route, and I’m not opposed to med school because I like science. But I like business too. I guess if one doesn’t work out, I have a fall-back plan.” I should mention that Majeed also finds time to write tech-related blog posts on the Tech Twurl website.

The way Tech Twurl works is that users choose what item they’d like to sell—Tech Twurl accepts cell phones, cameras, MP3 players, GPS gadgets, PDAs, camcorders, and calculators. The seller is then asked to fill out a brief survey about the condition of their item. A price is offered, Majeed pays for the seller to ship him the item, and if the item is in the condition it was promised to be in, Majeed sends the seller a check for the agreed amount. He says Tech Twurl is more user-friendly than eBay, safer than Craig’s List, and offers comparable prices. Majeed says that if a seller has an item that isn’t worth anything, he’ll offer to donate it to charity or recycle the parts.

Majeed started Tech Twurl in 2010, when he was a senior in high school. He had been building websites since the 8th grade and had a little nest egg saved up from the money he made. He had a classmate at Heritage High School in Saginaw, MI,  who had a brisk business selling electronics on eBay, and that sparked Majeed’s interest. The pair researched the marketplace and, instead of building an eBay store, they decided to create their own operation. Majeed used his website money to invest and got some additional help from his parents. He now runs Tech Twurl on his own.

At first, he stored the used electronics that people sent him in his dorm room, but then he realized that was perhaps a bit risky. So he contracted with a warehouse in Chicago, which also handles listing the items he buys on eBay. He typically gets about 40 orders per month makes anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 in monthly revenue, except for the time when PC Mag published an article about Tech Twurl last year and he made $30,000 in a month off used iPads alone. iPads and iPhones are the most popular and profitable items he buys, he says, and he’s bracing for another rush of iPads after the iPad3 is released this spring. (An iPad2 in decent condition is currently going for about $360.)

So, what does the guy who has med school as his fall-back plan want to do in his wildest dreams? He pauses. “Well,” he says a bit sheepishly, as if it’s the first time he’s saying it out loud. “What I’d really like to do is go into the beverage industry and develop new flavors.”

Usman, we have no doubt you can make that happen.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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