If you were studying computers when the economy went south, what would you do? If you’re Bill Owen, the founder of mnpctech.com, the answer is simple: you start your own company. Owen chats about tweaks, overclocking, and sweet, sweet mods.
If you were studying computers when the economy went south, what would you do? If you’re Bill Owen, the founder of Minneapolis-based mnpctech.com, the answer is simple: you start your own company. Owen chats about tweaks, overclocking, and sweet, sweet mods.
How did you become interested in this field?
I was never interested in hardware until a friend who built his own PCs came over to revamp my 75Mhz Dell. I studied the entire transformation, and saw a parallel between what he was doing and my own custom cars. Build a better beast!
At the time, I was contemplating going back to school to find a new career. He suggested to me that I look at a career as a repair technician in the IT field, so I attended a six-month course to receive the A+ certification.
I was very excited about a career change, but had no idea the IT field was scaling back. My employer who had reimbursed my schooling laid off most its help desk staff while I was in school.
When did the company get started?
Frustrated with the job market, I started Minnesota PC Technician, also known as mnpctech.com, in 2001. I cultivated my knowledge of troubleshooting and sourcing the best price on components. Most importantly, I followed the latest hardware developments and performance tweaks.
How did you get people interested in your services?
I marketed myself as “the guy who builds fast computers.” This title immediately attracted the emerging interest in PC gaming systems.
Since I was working out of my home, I could easily undercut the big company prices with the same components. I was now building gaming systems out of server towers so I could utilize the additional factory cooling fans for overclocking.
When did you start building mods?
When I was building gaming systems, I started hearing about LAN gaming parties. A friend mentioned he had seen a computer with a window and neon light. I thought it was a really unique idea, so it prompted me to search for people doing this to their cases. I found an Australian LAN club with a photo gallery of “modded cases” and was instantly hooked on the originality.
What did your first modded case look like?
Since my longtime hobby has been building custom cars, a car theme would be the inspiration of my first modded PC. The Dell Eater GT consisted of car parts–door handle, headlight switch, volt gauge–taken from an Audi Quattro Coupe and VW GTI.
After one month into the project, I showed a friend my progression and he insisted I sell him the case once finished. He gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I e-mailed progress photos to gauge response from other PC builders. Everyone responded with amazement. I submitted photos to galleries and my inbox was flooded over the following week with inquiries.
How has that reaction affected your business?
I eat, drink, and sleep computer cases. My work is constantly evolving. I look at my creations as sculptures with function. I also sell a growing selection of unique mod supplies that have been utilized in my creations.
I’m working with a CNC machinist to offer the first ever machined aluminum case mod accessories in 2003 for some popular cases. I’m also planning to offer a line of “signature series” cases that will offer optimal fan cooling without the noise.
This will be the first time a case will be marketed that’s optimized by a professional case modder. I’m very excited about what the future will have in store for mnpctech.com.
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