New business offers solutions

Published 6:51 am Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Technology can be a headache, but a new local business is hoping to ease the pain of local residents and businesses.

Simplified Technology Solutions opened at 313 3rd Ave. N.E. on Nov. 9, and owners Justin and Lisa Bickler said they hope to help make the complicated easy for local businesses and citizens when it comes to technology.

Justin said he thought there was a niche in the Austin area for helping people and small businesses with their technological problems and concerns.

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“Our goal is to educate and simplify the complicated world of computers,” Justin said.

Technological assistance is important for small businesses because they often don’t have staff for tech support. Justin said providing such services gives small businesses a way to stay competitive with larger businesses.

For example, Justin can help professional service businesses like real estate offices, law firms and medical offices determine what steps they need to take to meet compliance laws.

“I think the last 15 years has made me realize that whether you want to accept it or not, computers are a dependency,” Justin said. “They’re no longer a ‘nice to have,’ they’re a requirement.”

That evolution of computers has also made it so people use computers as an key tool of important family functions.

One recent customer asked Justin to help teach him the technology to host a virtual family Christmas. With his daughter overseas over Christmas, Justin said the family plans to ship gifts and open them together through Internet video messaging.

One common problem Justin helps customers with is what to do when a computer is slow. He said he also helps people with common problems from difficulty logging on to the Internet to questions about when people should turn computers off to save electricity.

Another common service is help with Internet security. Justin said viruses are a big concern for all computer users, especially businesses with private information and data stored on a computer.

Many families have many items using the Internet from a home computer to things like laptops, a Wii or Xbox 360 gaming system, iPods and other gadgets. Justin said he can help them with what can often turn into a headache of cords.

He’s also helped people choose what computers and software to buy. Buying a new computer is just a first step, as Justin said he helps people transfer documents and files from an old computer. People need to then see if a new computer is compatible with printers and other items.

Justin helped another customer whose hard drive crashed, causing a large number of files and photographs to be deleted. This is a common and costly repair, but Simplified Technology Solutions also offers a service to backs up a computer each night for $5 a month.

Lisa and Justin grew up in Austin and both graduated from Pacelli High School. Lisa attended St. Cloud State University, and Justin attended St. John’s University. The two moved back to Austin after college. Lisa served as athletic director at Riverland Community College for five years, and Justin worked in information technology in the area.

From there, the family embarked on what Justin described as a “five year road trip to raise a family and try out new things.” Lisa and Justin lived in Washington for a few years and then lived in Las Vegas, Nev., for one year.

When they lived in Washington, Lisa worked as athletic director at Clark College. Justin worked as a partner in a computer business focused on law firm technology.

Justin said he’s gained experience ranging from the corporate Fortune 500 companies down to small businesses owners and home users.

Lisa said a return to Austin was a good fit because of the connections the two gained growing up in town.

Lisa said the move is also good for couple’s daughters, Abby, 12, and Erin, 8, becuase they can be closer to family.

“We’re kind of at that age where you start giving back to the community,” Lisa said. “We decided that we might as well give back to the community that kind of gave us a lot when we growing up.

Simplified Technology Solutions is already involved with the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, and Justin said they’re trying to tie in the Buy Mower/Grow Mower theme in their business.

“I guess that’s our story. We’re the hometown kids that have come back, and we’ve grown up into having our own opportunity,” Justin said.