Alumna Crista Switzer aids elderly with technology business

Feb 22, 2018
Crista Switzer

Alumna Crista Switzer ’12, helps people of all ages — with a special focus on the elderly and helping them understand technology with ease.

The goals of abcd TECH, her one-woman business, include “simplifying your technology: setting up Wi-Fi, cell phones, computers, and more. Our goal is to remove the stress from technology enabling you to enjoy it.”

When the idea first came to Switzer eight years ago, she considered how older generations have a tendency of getting shorted when it comes to technology, she said.

“Technology hasn’t always been kind to them, but I know these people have done amazing things in their lives and learning what those things are is pretty spectacular,” she said.

In addition to seniors, abcd TECH also helps a handful of entrepreneurs with IT needs for their businesses.

“When someone first starts his or her business, they cannot always afford a person to take care of all their tech needs, so I kind of fill the gap of being able to help them with their needs as well,” Switzer said.

Her idea for abcd TECH emerged while she was attending Newman University. At the time, she was working both in University Relations as a student worker and for technical support at Cox Communications.

“I talked to so many people who were older and who said things like, ‘I’d call my daughter, son or neighbor, but they don’t have patience, don’t live in town, etc.,’ and they were so thankful with me being able to help,” Switzer said.

Switzer wanted to turn her idea into a business, but because she went from being a student to graduating, then taking on a job with Cox and then another, she eventually forgot about it, she said.

“In 2016, I decided I wanted to move up from being a data analyst to the next realm,” she said. “But to do that I’d have to move to Atlanta and didn’t want to, so I decided to do something different. My goal was to take a month and brush up on my programming skills from Newman.”

Two days before Switzer’s last day at Cox, her plans completely changed.

“I was in a coworker’s office and she said, ‘When I help (senior citizens) set up their Wi-Fi and computers, it makes me want to start a business where I can help older people with technology.’ I heard this and immediately told her, ‘No, that’s mine.’”

“I’ve been in business now for a year and a half,” Switzer said with a smile.

Crista Switzer

Even though abcd TECH is essentially a one-woman business, Switzer said she has individuals to thank for their support.

“Jane Byrnes, who I like to refer to as ‘my spark,’ is a friend of mine’s mother,” she said. “She’s in my target demographic, and when I first started out I asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling her friends about it. She spread the word around and was the spark of that initial growth. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jane.”

Switzer said one of her favorite aspects about her business is getting to know her customers and hearing their stories.

“I’m a woman in the tech field and there are not many of us, but many of those that I help are women,” Switzer said. “I found out that, years ago, if you were a woman who wanted a library card, you had to have a man vouch for you to get one. One of my female customers stopped that from being the tradition. She has even been recognized by the National Organization for Women.”

Switzer loves hearing stories from her customers, she said. When she was younger, she wanted to be a writer, so “getting to do technology while listening to people’s stories is really awesome,” she said.

“I was an older student that went back to college, but I had a very positive experience,” Switzer said. “Newman offered the information technology degree, and that is what I really wanted to get into. The class size was small and I got to know the fellow students and instructors for an overall great experience.”

Switzer said her time, classes and experiences at Newman prepared her for the start of her business in many ways.

“Getting your bachelor’s degree is a difficult task to finish,” she said. “Newman helped me get my foot back in the door. (The program) had you do some business, advertising and accounting classes, which helped me better understand what I was going into and what to prepare for.

“I was kind of blown away when I started my business. You hear students say sometimes that, ‘Oh, you’re never going to use this stuff.’ But I don’t know …  you just might.” Switzer said, laughing.

“Always assume good intent and you will go far and you will see fabulous things,” Switzer said. “This is a life-changing lesson that I learned while I was at Cox. If you look for the negative, you will always find the negative.”

As far as short term goals go, Switzer said she hopes to make abcd TECH reach the five-year mark and has faith that it will last and grow from there.

“My more grandiose idea is to be able to offer that service on a more nationwide scale,” she said. “The baby boomer demographic is going to explode over the next 20 years and I think they should have options of people (in technology) who are willing to listen to their needs and help them.”