SHIFT Baltimore is the world's only mission-driven, localized, invite-only entrepreneurial membership community. Our mission is to create a new standard for business, one where money and mission are not mutually exclusive. We use the most rigorous, holistic approach to personal and professional performance: honoring the whole-self of business, body, balance, and being. We are creating meaningful, sustainable change aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Our members are relentlessly committed to inspiring, influencing, innovating, and impacting Baltimore. And we're spreading across the word!
We are thrilled to introduce SHIFT Talks: a series of unique stories from local entrepreneurs, each detailing how they've experienced shifts within their personal life, their company’s journey, their industry, and most importantly, our city. Their stories. Their SHIFT Talks.
Luke Cooper is the founder and CEO of the award-winning company, Fixt, which is comparable to the “Uber for device replacement.” If a mobile device stops working or a screen breaks, Fixt allows users to receive offsite repair within 30 minutes, on-site repair within an hour, or full replacement within 12 hours… all at the click of a button. Fixt also offers detailed device repair analytics and enterprise-level cybersecurity.
Q. How did you get to where you are today, professionally and personally?
A. My journey began when I was about 12 years old with a critical moment. I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in one of the toughest housing projects in the US, and my dad was in jail most of my life.
But my mom envisioned a different future for my sister and me. When we were 12 years old, she took us up on this tiny Cessna plane to see parts of Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. I think that was so crucial to me for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it gave me a whole new perspective. It helped me, for the first time, understand that where I was, wasn’t who I was. That moment shaped the rest of my life.
I was fortunate enough to go to a prep school in Trumbull, Connecticut and got a basketball scholarship. From there, I leveraged every opportunity I got and every person I met to get the most out of those interactions and those relationships.
I think the way I’ve approached business and the way I’ve approached building a company has been the same since I was young, to leverage every single opportunity I got. To learn the most I possibly can from every situation so it can propel me forward to do bigger and better things. That’s been my guiding principle in my progression to law school, getting my MBA at Babson, and selling my first company. Here I am today, after all of that, back in the thick of things with Fixt, and having the time of my life. I love every minute of it.
Q. What would you pinpoint as one of your most significant moments in life?
A. The most significant moment of my life was February 7, 2014. It was the day we learned my then 4-year-old daughter had stage IV cancer. It was a routine pediatrician visit and the doctor noticed something hard in her stomach, sent us down to get an MRI that uncovered a massive tumor had taken over her right kidney.
It was a Wilms tumor, and had spread to her lungs. That Monday, within 48 hours, we were in surgery. Fortunately, our son was with my mother, so we never left Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were lucky enough to be in Baltimore near Hopkins for the surgery where they removed the tumor. After a long year of chemotherapy and radiation, she was cancer-free and has remained that way ever since.
Q. What’s the most thrilling life experience you’ve had thus far?
I’ve tried to live my life without fear. To be constantly unafraid of taking on new challenges, which pushes me to do exciting and adventurous things in life.
I had a great experience traveling to Moscow as a young lawyer. It was a really boring assignment to a lot of people in the firm, but it was something I really wanted to do, so I took them up on the offer and flew to Russia. It was a lot of fun. I wound up being in Moscow for a whole month, and then went on to Central Asia. I wound up spending the entire month in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where I literally lived on a floor. But I learned a lot, experienced a great culture, and saw a whole different side of how the world lives. It was liberating.
Q. You’ve experienced and accomplished a lot in your life. What are two or three things on your bucket list you have yet to check off?
I want to become a thespian in some way. I have always had this fondness of theater, of culture, and the arts. If I ever had the opportunity to act in a play or to do something theatrical, I would love to do it. Since I was a child, Isaw myself as somewhat of a thespian. I think it would be exciting. I’d like to be in a Herman Miller play, like Death of a Salesman.
I would also love to live abroad. I’ve always been excited by the uncovered and pristine locations in the world few people know about. Places people don’t visit very often like the Easter Islands where the Moai people are. That fascinates me.
But, I think it’s important for people to understand that no matter where you are, you can bloom exactly where you’re planted. Despite the fact I want to live in other places and do all of these things, there’s a lot of opportunity right here in Baltimore. In fact, I often bike to work, and on my ride home on Calvert Street in Charles Village, I pass by a big Moai statue. I love it. I have these grandiose ideas and visions of living in the Easter Islands around the Moai, but I can find a piece of the Moai right here in Baltimore.
Q. How has being a member of SHIFT emboldened you to be a better entrepreneur?
A. SHIFT is founded around a fundamental principal that things should be built in an antifragile manner, so as things happen they can move and shift with the current of the times.
When you think about earthquakes and earthquake-proof buildings, they’re designed to move and shift with the tremors underneath the ground. This is how I see SHIFT; it’s a great organization and is replicating this behavior in the world of business. As political changes, financial changes, and economic changes occur around the world, your business and mindset adjust according to those things. You have the opportunity to create value for your shareholders, and for all the people connected to your business.
Q. Considering the times we live in, what is your biggest hope for the future of society?
A. My greatest hope for the world is we live a more thoughtful, productive life. I want to see more people find a way to ask themselves, “How can I help?” And I hope to see people act with true intent on the answers they come to.
There are so many issues facing our world. The environmental challenges we have are extremely important because of increased consumption and carbon emissions. I think we’re not a thoughtful enough species. That lack of thoughtfulness is effectively leading to our own demise. We need to be stewards of the environment and the planet. We need to be more thoughtful and considerate.
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