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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Start-up makes DIY laptops a dream come true

Spurred by their love for gaming, trio start business that allows consumers to mix and match laptop components.
December 5, 2012
By: Oo Gin Lee
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Start-up makes DIY laptops a dream come true The Aftershock PC team comprising twins Marcus (left) and Joe Wee (centre) and their long-time friend Zen Lam (right), launched their business in June. -- PHOTO: AFTERSHOCK PC

Gamers have been customising their desktop rigs for as long as Sim Lim Square has been around but a new three-man start-up here wants to extend DIY to the laptop.

Twin brothers Joe and Marcus Wee, and their long-time buddy Zen Lam, all 28, launched Aftershock PC in June, letting consumers choose the parts they want to go into their laptops. The trio, all gamers, banded together for their love of gaming.

At Aftershockpc.com, one can pick a laptop size, processor, graphics card, hard drive and other parts. It sounds a lot like computer giant Dell's modus operandi, but Aftershock goes one step further. Established vendors such as Dell and Alienware (Dell's gaming PC brand) usually do not identify the brands of their parts, for example, Kingston RAM or Seagate hard drives.

Aftershock's machines are the stuff of a geek's dreams.

A buyer can even choose whether he wants Arctic S or IC Diamond thermal compound squeezed over the processor to prevent overheating. Not only can you choose a matte or glossy screen, you can also ask for a screen with a higher colour gamut - which is a must for animators, game developers and other creative artists who need a monitor with more accurate colour reproduction.

For gamers with money to burn, Aftershock offers the possiblity of two high-end graphics cards - either dual AMD Radeon 7970M or dual Nvidia GeForce 680M. No other PC vendor is thought to offer this here.

If you would rather stick to good old Windows 7, Aftershock.com will also oblige.

It is a bit like buying your own desktop PC parts from Sim Lim Square, except that you order it online and Aftershock puts it all together for you.

The trio currently operate out of a 1,800 sq ft shophouse in Serangoon Road where the rent is more affordable. Sales so far have exceeded expectations, said Mr Joe Wee, but they have not had much to show for it other than favourable mentions in HardwareZone.com, VR-zone.com and other Singapore tech forums.

They would not say how much they have spent so far, but did reveal that the initial investments came from family and their own savings.

Mr Marcus Wee, the tech wizard of the three, is in charge of sourcing parts and putting them together. Joe, who is five minutes older than his twin, handles sales and marketing while Mr Lam takes charge of finance. They all chip in to help where they can.

Their first customer was a hard sell. A console gamer moving into PC, he demanded a huge discount for "putting his trust in a local company". Marcus spent almost three hours talking to him and closed the deal.

"We don't have huge advertising budgets and are very dependant on word of mouth. So customer service is everything," said Joe.

Marcus said their father, who works in insurance, tried in vain to steer them into the same business.

He said: "I hated doing sales but it's not the same when you are selling what you love. The going has been tough but we are enjoying every moment of it."

ginlee@sph.com.sg

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