As readers of this blog know, I like to be an early adopter, and an early investor. When it come to technology, I want the latest gadgets, most up to date computers, etc. But being too early on these things costs money. I'm often faced with the old question of how early to upgrade to the next new best thing. That's why the business plan for TechForward, our latest First Round Capital investment, resonated so strongly.
TechForward, started by Jade van Doren and Marc Lebovitz, offers guaranteed buyback prices for your new equipment: laptops today, soon other computers, digital cameras, music players and the like. The operation is quite simple. When you buy the equipment, you can also buy (either at retail or through the TechMyLife.com website) a contract that offers to buy that equipment back from you over the following 24 months. (I'm not sure I've kept any of my computers that long in the last decade). There are four prices, one for each six month interval (see the example).
When you're ready, you login and tell them, they send a box and you ship back your machine. Assuming its condition is as stated, you get a check for the contract amount to use as you see fit, or perhaps, with retail partners, a gift card for even more than that amount to be used at their store. There's a lot of very sophisticated mathematical modeling of large amounts of data to determine the upfront fees and buyback prices.
I love the idea that I can shop for my next machine as soon as I like, with the knowledge that there is a floor on the value of my old one. Of course, I can always sell it myself if it turns out to be worth more at the end of a particular period, assuming I don't mind all the hassle. So now I can stay too early or way too early with my computers and gadgets, abetted by the TechForward Guarantedd Buybacks effectively lowering my new machine's price to something a little more reasonable.