After he sent the first mass email blast advertising the company, hundreds of inquires poured in, he says. "It wasn't something I could do on my own," Arian recalls.
Mr. Mahmoodi, 49, a professor who teaches supply-chain management at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., was happy to help his son get organized. Together, they started tracking the orders, organizing them by iPhone model, and tracking the customers by assigning each a unique number.
"He's always been inquisitive, particularly when it has to do with business and management," says the elder Mahmoodi. "That's a nice match for me."
The business had so much success that Arian replicated the model a year later for SellYourOldMacBook.com. By then, Arian and Farzad had established very distinct roles. Arian, the chief executive and face of the company, manages all the inquiries that come through the website and all other customer-service matters. He's also responsible for advertising and pricing the goods.
Farzad handles all the accounting and legal matters, and has stepped in to co-sign documents, such as a debit-card application, that Arian can't sign alone on account of his age. He also manages the supply-chain activities—such as monitoring the flow of broken inventory as it ships to and from the technicians—and figures out which international markets the company should focus on.
"My job is to come up with strategies," says Farzad, who notes that while his students don't always take his suggestions, Arian always does.
The father-son team buys and sells about 20 to 30 devices each week. Since launching, Arian says he has brought in $230,000 in sales, primarily over the past year. He reinvests the money into the business, by buying more phones and computers. Farzad doesn't take a salary, but he doesn't mind, he says, because the company is like a free lab where he can test-run supply-chain ideas.
Arian and Farzad anticipate that the company will continue next year, while Arian is getting his college degree, but that they will likely have to hire an employee to take over some daily operations.
Both Arian and Farzad say they get along very well, but they have stepped on each other's toes at times. Over the summer, for example, while at Cornell University for a three-week academic program, Arian spotted a great deal on accessories, like chargers and phone cases. He placed a large order without telling Farzad.
"I got a call, my dad asking, 'What is this? We have all these boxes—is there a mistake in the order?' " Arian recalls. "He wasn't too happy because he couldn't park in the garage."
The miscommunication didn't hurt the business, but it does exemplify a larger problem: Arian has a desire to advertise more, buy aggressively and grow rapidly. Farzad is discouraging him from doing that, so that his son can instead focus on fun activities before he heads off to college.
"I constantly hold him back," Farzad says. "He is always trying to do more and learn new things. He challenges me, he drives me."
For now, Arian says he's taking his father's advice. "We're in agreement at this time to keep it as is," he says. "We need to agree on when to expand."
Courtesy of Monica Donovan for The Wall Street Journal