Deals

Get money for your crappy old phones

Brush off those dusty old electronics and broken phones sitting in a drawer. EcoATM has raised $17 million for its electronics recycling “ATM” kiosks, which give you money for handing over old phones, MP3 players, and even laptops.

The other day I was walking through San Francisco’s Westfield Mall when I came across an EcoATM. I had never seen one before, but after figuring out what the ATM did, I wished I had been carrying around one of my many old dumb phones that will never see the light of day again. The kiosk prompted me to insert a defunct electronic device into its deposit slot. The screen said it would scan my old hunk of plastic and metal, tell me its second-market value, and ask if I wanted money in exchange for saying a final goodbye to my old device.

“We read a report from Nokia that three percent of cell phones were being recycled and felt that needed to change. So we thought, how can we make it really easy and rewarding?” said EcoATM chief executive Tom Tullie in an interview with VentureBeat.

EcoATM knows that most people want to keep e-waste out of landfills but also don’t want to part with their $500 phone and get nothing in return. In order to get more people to recycle their electronics, the company will make it worth your while to part with your old device by giving you money or discounts on new phones. If you feel really, really nice, you can donate the cash to charity.

The idea of device-recycling ATMs has gained a lot of attention from investors. Coinstar even dropped some cash into EcoATM’s bucket with an investment two years ago. EcoATM also won the Best Clean Tech Startup Crunchies Award for 2011. Investor Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek Ventures is clearly impressed.

“They’ve got a great business model, [with the] idea of having kiosks that are convenient for consumers. They are constantly updating their price estimates for devices, so you know you are getting the best pricing for your 18 month-old Android phone,” said Hawks during a phone call with VentureBeat. “They have a stellar management team and have a great way to monetize the value of old devices.”

Claremont Creek Ventures, Coinstar, and TAO Ventures led the $17 million second-round funding, with PI Holdings, Moore Venture Partners, AKS Capital, and angel investor Koh Boon Hwee participating. The money will go towards a national rollout of EcoATM kiosks.

“[There are] 50 units in the field now, and we plan to deploy nationwide. We will be buying kiosks to deploy and building our infrastructure of sales and marketing,” said Tullie about how the company will use the funding.

EcoATM unveiled its kiosks at DEMO Spring in 2011 and has since raised a disclosed total of $31.4 million in funding. The company is based in San Diego, Calif.

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