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“A sale is not about just selling a item but gaining a customer for life.”

Elchonon Hellinger was born in Brooklyn, NYC, and has been working in IT since the age of 16, in sales, support, marketing, customer service and business solutions. Balancing the responsibilities of building a business with his own personal health challenges has helped him develop a great appreciation for what’s important in life. This is one company owner who understands how to appreciate the needs of others, and thus, has an ability to provide amazing customer service. Over the last ten years, ThriftyComputer has been steadily building a reputation as one of the most trustworthy and reliable sources in the world for unlocked cell phones, computer accessories, headsets and other communication technologies. At ThriftyComputer, you’ll find the latest Apple iPhone to Android, LG, BlackBerry, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson and other high quality cell phone brands. From incredible, discounted deals to world class customer service, brothers Elchonon and Yosef Hellinger have set a standard for excellence that they are proud to stand behind.

Thrifty Computer

BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you and your brother to launch a business when were you were still in high school? What early insights did you gain that you’ve been able to apply to your current business model?

Elchonon: I actually never finished high school. I did later get a high school equivalent degree. I was rapidly going deaf at 16 and 17, I was not in the deaf mind frame, just believing that I was just hard of hearing. I kept thinking that was going to get my hearing back and that there were treatments available, radiation and gamma knife. My plan was to go to law school, but going deaf was end of the world for me. I was doing absolutely nothing all day, just wasting time online. My mother says to me one “look, you’re a smart kid and you know the internet well, why don’t you look for stuff to sell online?” I learned that business is not always easy, the market swings, not everything sells. A sale is not about just selling an item but gaining a customer for life

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about some of the unique challenges you’ve encountered building a business with a disability?

Elchonon: Well, first thing that comes to mind are the surgeries that I have had, 23 in total. I can still recall sitting post-surgery on a street corner in LA leeching WiFi to work and sitting in ICU teaching my mother to process orders. The doctor visits would often take up my whole day as much as twice a week. Being deaf back then was very hard, I would solicit all my friends to make phone calls for me. It was embarrassing but also lots of fun. Dealing with suppliers was rough; not being able to call and buy was tough. There was not a willingness to deal and communicate through emails and chats. This was before you had full chat, text and email access with everyone.

BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to someone who feels that their disability is too big of an obstacle to follow their true passion?

Elchonon: The people you do business with will look beyond these things. As long as you’re willing to go beyond any obstacles, they will not see the issues. Technology and the way business is done has really opened up almost every field. You can do it just by believing in yourself, because people out there believe in you.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the trials that you faced during the business crash but how it enabled you to come back much stronger and more determined than ever?

Elchonon: We faced the crush of debt, suppliers losing faith and no sales outlets. What hurt most was the crashing of my dreams. Thriftycomputer was my lifeblood; it signaled my accomplishments and it represented my pride of overcoming my physical limitations. But this caused us to be open minded, innovate and build lasting relationships with our suppliers. We look for what buyers want and seek out ways to offer this at the best prices. It cemented my belief in my younger brother, I think this is a leap all older siblings take, but in my partnering with my younger brother, we went from the sibling bond to a business marriage.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Elchonon: This is a really hard answer. To be honest, I’ve really been following Blackberry wondering if they will go back to being pioneers of innovation. I’d like to see more cloud computing, the meshing and integration of all data and devices to flow from phone to screen, from home to office. I think phones are going to be your new PC – Personal Companion, for work, health, social etc.

BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on recently being awarded a StellaService excellence rating. Can you elaborate on the significance of being recognized and what it means for you and the team at Thrifty Computer?

Elchonon: It means that my team is doing an amazing job and I’m really proud of them but it means we should look forward to achieving the next level which is Elite. To me, the internet is a set of tools. We all have the tools. It’s just how you use them that counts. We are always asking ourselves and each other “How can we make things better for the buyer? How can we offer better service?”

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