Magazine Feature / People

Alum moves computer shop into DU neighborhood

Oscar Hasbun (MS engineering and computer science ’04) knows computer problems are frustrating, especially for students with plenty of assignments and limited time.

“Students don’t want to make an appointment and drive; they want to be served on-campus and in between classes,” Hasbun says. That’s why he’s moved his full-service IT shop, Zettalogica, to a location ideal for DU students at 2430 S. University Blvd.

Zettalogica currently repairs about 5–6 Toshiba computers a day and provides small and medium-sized businesses with infrastructure management, custom software and technical training solutions, Hasbun says. Zettalogica is a Microsoft Gold Partner.

Costs for repairs usually run about $89 for an hour of service. A diagnostic fee is $59, but students get a 20 percent discount. Laptop rentals are available starting at $19 a day or $59 a week for students; regular prices start at $29 a day and $109 a week.

Hasbun, the company’s CEO and president, expects the company’s service to grow to about 25–30 computers a day in addition laptop sales and technical support. The shop is authorized to fix Toshiba, Apple and Intel computers, and all other computers no longer under warranty.

Zettalogica — zetta meaning the seventh power of a thousand and logica meaning  “logical” in Spanish — began when Hasbun took family-owned business law and values-based leadership classes at DU’s Daniels College of Business. The self-described computer geek didn’t know much about starting a business, though. What he did have was $25,000 to put down with his wife, Debbie Sheanin, a customer service coordinator in DU’s financial aid office. He also had a strong desire to start a company.

“I thought maybe I can make something positive happen,” says Hasburn, who notes his background in corporate business was mostly from Latin America and his native El Salvador.

Daniels Professors Ronald Zall and Sam Cassidy, who Hasbun refers to as the “wise men” in matters of business law and ethics, helped Hasbun work out all the kinks.

“I can only go so far alone; my knowledge is limited,” Hasbun says.

Hasbun is certainly planning on going far with that help. Literally.

In December 2008, he opened a Zettalogica shop in El Salvador with Carlos Lara (BS computer science ’06), who he met at DU while teaching as an adjunct in the computer science department. He’s also working to replicate the same thing in Norway with Sven Nico Eppeland (BSEE ’05, MBA ’05).

“He’s so good at drawing people with all these different strengths, and he gets them tuned in with the company’s vision,” Sheanin says.

The biggest challenge? Probably being a small business in a weak economy, Hasbun says. “Choice tilts to price-driven, and some customers start defaulting in their payments,” he adds. “We had to take measures to maintain liquidity, anticipating delayed incoming cash flows.”

In October, Hasbun had to reduce his staff of 12 to five (there’s an additional 2 employees in El Salvador) after contracts were canceled.

“These people are my friends, not just my colleagues,” he says. “It becomes a personal dilemma, where I ask myself what is the right thing to do and how. That’s when I take myself back to the core values we wrote [when we started the business],” he says.

“I thought in business school I was in it for profits and shareholder value, but walked out of it believing again that it was to maximize stakeholder benefit,” Hasbun says. “Zettalogica is here…to let the fruit of our ethical labor keep our business in the map.”

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