Entrepreneur Dana Jacobs has worked in several successful businesses but is no technophile, which may be why she realized that many people in today's world need a computer nerd around. Technology is available, affordable and, in most companies, necessary for conducting daily business. To answer that need, Jacobs established Nerd Services (3841 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 102, Metairie, 888-6373; www.nerdservices.net).
"I felt there was a real need for personalized and friendly computer services at a good price," says Jacobs, who had owned and managed several real estate, management consulting and other businesses, some with her husband. "This was an opportunity for us to go into something new. We felt -- and feel -- like this is where the future is and something we can grow with."
In just a year -- the company celebrated its first anniversary June 1 -- the business has grown both locally and regionally and soon will set up a Nerd Services shop outside New Orleans. "We are planning to expand outside the city," says Jacobs, declining to say exactly where. "We already do business out of town. We're aware now of other cities in the southwest United States that do not have this kind of service. And people need it."
Nerd Services sells computer equipment and custom-built computers as well as advising residential customers, small businesses and companies with multiple-user systems about their present technological needs, plans for growth and, finally an individualized game plan, complete with nerd backup.
"The technicians will assess the needs of the small business owner and try to get them to the point where they won't be obsolete in a matter of months," Jacobs says. "We try to protect their future needs (by selling them a system that can handle upgraded programs and enlarged memory) without overselling. By assessing their individual needs and business plans, we can put together a plan designed just for that business."
Flexibility and future advancements also are covered by Nerd Services. "Plans change," Jacobs says. "As technology changes, we also change. We can go in and upgrade and expand [the systems] as needed. We support the businesses throughout, not just when we first set them up."
Customers of the Metairie-based technology services company include those who are computer savvy and need fairly extensive services to individual users who just want to send email, do some Web surfing, home accounting or other personal tasks.
"We get about half-and-half [experienced users and neophytes]," Jacobs says. "We get a lot of people who are fairly knowledgeable, but don't know how to get it all done. Then we had a woman who called and said her computer had eight 'kegs.' We didn't laugh at her. We try to treat our customers with dignity and respect and not talk down to them like we're a bunch of know-it-alls." Being "talked down to" by computer experts in her other business ventures was part of Jacobs' motivation to start Nerd Services in the first place, and providing a personal touch for every customer is part of her business philosophy.
"We try to have a more personalized service, where the customer can feel they get across [to us] what they're trying to say," the entrepreneur says. "We really listen to the customer and explain things in a way that's easy to understand." She also offers a line of computers that is affordable and can be customized to fit individual needs. Nerd Services also offers CD writers, memory upgrades, hard drive enlargements, on-site computer service and repair, upgrades to home and business systems, Internet readiness and more. (Nerd Services is not, however, an Internet service provider).
"It's definitely affordable," Jacobs says of her equipment and services. "We have systems for $600; it's the same, exact computer we use in our office. We also have add-ons like CD writers, more memory."
Mostly, Jacobs wants to expand people's access to the technology available. "You don't have to be an expert to make use of the technology that's out there," she says. "People just need to know what equipment they need and some guidance on how to use it." For that, Jacobs has just the nerd for the job.
Who says life isn't black-and-white? It is at White House/ Black Market (333 Canal St., Canal Place, 299-8044), a unique retail store that opened recently at Canal Place. The 1,669-square-foot boutique offers women's clothing, lingerie, accessories, jewelry and gift items -- all in black and white (there are a few accent colors and beige). The Maryland-based company began with the "only white" White House boutique in 1985 and launched the "only black" Black Market boutique a decade later, finally combining the two after noticing customers traveled between the two boutiques to mix and match separates. The store focuses on decidedly feminine apparel from casual to formal wear for "young-thinking," fashion-forward women 30 to 50 years old.