This is the second in a series sponsored by Delaware Prosperity Partnership shining a light on the leaders who make our communities a better place to live, work and play. Delaware Prosperity Partnership promotes Delaware as a premier location for companies to locate and expand and supports local entrepreneurs and innovators.
TSD first introduced NERDiT NOW founder Markevis Gideon to readers in October, when we learned that his tech startup business was selected to appear on the hit ABC show Shark Tank. While their 90-second pitch didn’t land them an offer, by all accounts, their animated and theatrical pitch was considered one of the best ever.
That’s the same spirit Gideon and his team put forth at NERDiT NOW, which repairs mobile phones, tablets and computers, sells refurbished devices, and donates more than 100 computers each year to underserved youth in the greater Wilmington area.
Their new drop off kiosks will allow their business to scale up — reaching hundreds of new customers who don’t have time to visit their store on location on West Newport Pike.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: Growing up, what did you want to do?
Gideon: I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. At 8 years old, I asked grandfather to borrow $20. I went to the Save-A-Lot located on Route 13 and purchased a toaster oven for $9.99, four packs of frozen pizza and some Kool-Aid packs to make frozen water ice. I had instant success selling these small treats, netting almost $200 per week. It was at this moment I knew I loved the idea of running my own business.
DPP: When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing in Delaware?
Gideon: This is a tricky question because I don’t consider what I do as “work.” Technology is a hobby of mine that I enjoy sharing with others. But outside of normal business hours, I often find myself attending networking events with other business leaders/ entrepreneurs and spending time with my wife and 6-month-old baby, from walking down the Riverside trail, dining out, or having a family day at Lums Pond.
DPP: What makes you passionate about Delaware?
Gideon: Growing up in Delaware, I could never have imagined leaving. That was until I went to college in Chester, and then went off to China for five years. Throughout my time in China, I frequently came back to visit family and friends.
During these visits, I noticed that there was a technological divide in our communities. I saw individuals who grew up in similar circumstances as I did, and I felt this burning urge to show them that they too can find success.
After relocating back here, I found dozens of people who have a huge sense of pride for our community. We are working together to show that we can create positive change. For this reason, I will forever call Delaware home.
DPP: What’s your advice for entrepreneurs?
Gideon: Don’t allow others to impose their limitations onto you. When I say this, people can immediately think of a time where others have had a negative reaction to their ideas. For example: “You aren’t smart enough to run a business” or “your idea is just dumb.” These examples are sometimes easy to overcome because deep down we know that they are just “hating.”
What’s harder to overcome are the times that people impose limitations on you out of love. For example, your parents ask, “Are you sure you want to start a business? You know that over 85 percent of businesses fail in the first year.” Or, “Are you sure you want to quit your job with a good salary to pursue a dream?”
This I find to be the most deadly dream killer, and something prospective entrepreneurs should avoid. You can listen to others’ concerns, but just because someone doesn’t think you can do something or they themselves can’t do something, doesn’t mean you can’t.
DPP: What do you think is the most important attribute, that has contributed to your current success?
Gideon: I attribute a lot of my success to the community that has raised me. Of course, my parents had a major role in my upbringing, but I recall at 12 years old being given my first computer by Mr. Epting, a teacher at Talley Middle School.
Then, after noticing that I found joy assembling and disassembling, I was given the opportunity to work on scrap computers. This went on throughout middle school and then the guidance counselor informed my parents that I should go to Howard High School of Technology. This move set me up to become the technician that I am today.
It was that one computer, given to me by that one teacher, that changed the trajectory of my entire life. That’s why, through my nonprofit, we donate more than 100 computers each year to the underserved in our community. We want to ensure that others also have the opportunity to improve their circumstances.