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Google and Samsung using this start-up to duplicate Apple's Genius Bar at home

Samsung, Google and Philips are working with a start-up called Puls to deliver Genius Bar-style repairs and tech demonstrations to customers at home.

Founded in 2015, Puls started out as a mobile phone repair service called CellSavers. It focused on fixing common mobile device issues like spent batteries or cracked screens.

This week, the company changed its name to Puls to reflect broader ambitions, CEO and co-founder Ronen Eyal told CNBC.

The company still sends technicians to a needy customer’s door within an hour of booking or at another prescheduled time. But Puls technicians are now able to repair, demonstrate and install a wide variety of gadgets, including smartphones, tablets, smart light bulbs, televisions and smart devices like the Google Home or Nest thermostats and smoke alarms.

CNBC tested the Puls service, and true to its promise, technicians arrived within one hour of ordering, even on a Sunday morning, to mount a flat screen TV on a wall and demonstrate a Google Home smart speaker.

The TV installation required two technicians for heavy lifting. Once they were on site, we also asked them to also repair a cracked iPhone 5 screen. With the parts and tools they had, they were able to complete all three tasks within 70 minutes.

Puls relies on freelancers instead of full-time technicians. Eyal said his company accepts only 8 percent of applicants, conducting extensive skills and background checks before assigning them to any job.

The technicians who responded to our call, Chance House and Marcus Friberg, both had experience working at brick-and-mortar retailers and repair shops prior to joining Puls. They told CNBC they like working through the company’s app, rather than in a shop, for schedule flexibility and variety.

Puls provides training for technicians, they said, but it’s not mandatory. “If you know how and want to just repair iPhones all day you can do that,” House said. “But if you want to get into more of this smart home stuff, as it gets more popular, you can learn that, too.”

In-home demos are free for customers for now. Other repairs or installations cost $30 to $200. In the event where a customer doesn’t buy a device after they’ve indulged in a demonstration, Puls still gets paid. But Eyal wouldn’t comment on specific arrangements with partners such as Samsung and Google.

Puls faces a bevy of competitors when it comes to mobile device repairs, most notably Best Buy‘s Geek Squad business, and other start-ups like iCracked or UBreakiFix.

More recently, Amazon has begun to offer Smart Home Services, where it sends technicians to a user’s home to see how well the Echo, and Alexa-enabled devices can work in their own homes.

Ronen said his company’s strength is in the convenience it can promise thanks to its own software. “We made something we call a ‘matchmaking mechanism,’ that figures out in half-a-second which technician has the skills, availability, the right parts on hand and so on to get to you and help you this hour,” he said.

Puls just raised a $25 million series B funding from Temasek-backed Red Dot Capital, Samsung NEXT, Sequoia Capital and other investors, bringing its total capital raised to $43 million. Puls plans to use its funding to expand beyond the 40 U.S. cities where it is operating today and to add new devices like smart security systems and the newest iPhones and Samsung Edge devices to its platform.

An investor with Samsung’s VC arm, Christina Bechhold Russ, told CNBC her company invested in Puls because its service is a net-positive for Samsung’s customers and business.

“There are barriers to adoption for people when it comes to these new connected devices, or the smart home. It has to be frictionless, especially if you want to reach populations that aren’t as comfortable using tech already,” she said.

Source: Tech CNBC
Google and Samsung using this start-up to duplicate Apple's Genius Bar at home

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