Skip to main content

Background: After graduating with a business degree from Dalhousie University, Christopher Harborne was hired by a tech company, which provided support to General Motors. Due to GM's financial woes, and the grim economic climate of the auto industry at the time, Mr. Harborne was laid off.

As a student, Mr. Harborne had worked on a project with Full Spectrum Computers, a local Halifax company, and had made good connections with the owners. A casual post-GM meeting with the owners prompted him to set up his own computer business in the small university town of Sackville, N.B. The store opened its doors in 2007.

The Challenge: Soon after opening the business, Mr. Harborne realized how difficult it was to compete with big-box stores for computers and accessories.

Story continues below advertisement

Instead, he focused on what he could do: provide personalized technical support to individuals and small business owners in town.

During his encounters with local entrepreneurs, Mr. Harborne was often asked to provide technical solutions for the unique problems they faced. Much as these small business owners wanted to use technology in their operations, their lack of technical know-how and inability to afford full-time tech staff proved to be a big barrier for them.

Mr. Harborne seized the opportunity, realizing he could fill this market demand by becoming a "Tech Support" partner to these businesses. His services would allow small business owners to get affordable, turnkey solutions to their computing needs without having to hire full-time staff to manage the technological aspect of the operation. It was a chance to leverage his technical contacts to deliver on these needs in an efficient manner.

In 2010, the business re-branded itself Downtown Digital to better communicate the new vision for the business which included not only computers but as a one-stop shop for meeting small business computing needs.

Result: The rebranded store opened its doors in April 2010 and has been able to fill in the demand for a "Tech Support" operation for small business. The business model has led to new opportunities such as providing preventive maintenance, web-hosting, cloud computing and server solutions to small business clientele.

As growth continues, one of his challenge has been finding qualified employees. He has addressed this by developing standard operating procedures (SOP) for tackling usual issues and problems and through training employees.

The strategy of addressing the unique computing needs of small businesses is paying off. Mr. Harborne has since expanded the scope of operations beyond Sackville into adjoining small towns that do not have the critical mass to support an independent computer store or tech support centre.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter