February 25, 2015
It’s the classic Silicon Valley: start a cool company in your garage and see what happens. Narenda Dev, founder and president of hardware reseller Cupertino Networks, did just that several years ago – and today he still works in his garage, happily. “The garage is close to my kitchen so I can get snacks easily,” he says.
Dev, a former IT manager at Cisco, started his own business in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. His San Francisco Bay Area company buys used networking equipment from major vendors including Cisco Systems, Inc. and Juniper Networks and resells it to businesses, from the Cupertino Networks site as well as on eBay and other online marketplaces. Dev is happy to be small, with just one full-time employee, and says he’s reached his goal of being financially independent. Yet it hasn’t always been a smooth ride to success.
Dev began thinking about starting a hardware reselling business in 2001, after he wound up with a basement full of discarded equipment from a startup that went under. After photographing the gear and advertising it on eBay, Dev says he was amazed at the prices he was earning for Hewlett-Packard adapters and routers: “I learned that if you have good brand names, you can get good prices for used equipment.” Yet the money wasn’t enough for him to break free from corporate life. Later, when he had the opportunity to launch Cupertino Networks, he decided to abandon the consumer market and focus on B2B, where the margins were better and it was easier for a small business to compete.
Building a powerful site for growth
In the business’s first year, Dev’s networking expertise helped him gain the trust of his buyers, small companies that want top brands but are on a tight budget. He also sells to large enterprises, which buy equipment for their backup and failover systems. His third market is selling equipment to large hardware resellers. Cupertino Networks is now a "Platinum level power seller" on eBay.
It didn’t take long for Dev to gain repeat customers—relationships that he still enjoys today. That stability gave him the incentive to migrate to Magento Community Edition, with the help of Magento partner and developer Razoyo.
After experimenting with the product and learning about its features, Dev used extensions to sync Magento Community Edition with sales generated using eBay and other online marketplaces. “The product has tons of bells and whistles and I have been really impressed with capabilities such as for tools for website listings, coupon generation, and SEO optimization,” he says. Magento’s payment flexibility has also been a top benefit for his business. “I can allow customers to use any number of options including credit cards and PayPal.”
After attending the Magento Imagine conference in 2012, Dev deployed extensions supporting freight shipping and connection with his ERP software, Brightpearl. “I’ve seen the true significance of using an open-source product like Magento and the variety of extensions that a company can use to enhance its site and improve workflow.” Dev is happy to report that with Magento, his site has had almost no downtime. “It just works with no problems.”
Steady as it goes
Dev is conservative about growth and has no desire to own “a bunch of warehouses and trucks.” He’s weathered a competitive market by staying educated on the latest networking products and focusing on customer relationships. “Because this is a technical sale with high margins, relationship is more important than volume,” he explains.
Dev says that one of the most gratifying aspects of owning his own business has been hiring high school students who help him with packing and shipping orders. The kids get to learn about computer networking and running a business, and several have gone on to pursue technical careers. “I’ve had 25 kids go through my business, and I feel pretty good about that.”
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