The U.K. recycles 5 million phones per year. But in the U.S., we recycle less than a million per year, and our total market is 4 times larger.
So why are we so behind?
“Pay as you go phones are big in the UK, so people are constantly turning over phones. But it boils down to an awareness issue; we have more of a throwaway culture in the U.S,” says Nik Raman a Harvard Business School graduate and the Founder of EcoSquid, an online startup that is fast becoming the easiest and most sensical way to recycle gadgets.
EcoSquid is a New York based startup that acts like the Kayak for gadget recycling. Simply type in the type of gadget you own and check off quality and equipment specifications, then EcoSquid aggregates the best services that will buy or accept the product with relevant cash back and shipping information.
“Our biggest competitor is your hallway junk drawer,” says Raman.
Co-Founder Christian Croft, an ITP grad is the VP of Product Development and User Experience. Together, Croft and Raman launched their brand new, shiny site today with an incentive system that lets users accrue points to purchase upgrades of new cell phones.
EcoSquid navigates the slimy waters of gadget schemes and only partners with responsible recycling services, as opposed to the kind who ship your phones off to landfills in developing countries. They’ve been approached by dozens in the business but have narrowed their partnerships down to less than 10 companies including BuyMyTronics, CellItUsed, YouRenew, BestBuy and Gazelle, a Boston based startup that recently made our Best of Boston Startups List.
Prior to EcoSquid, information on how to best recycle gadgets was dispersed across a fragmented web market. It was hard to zone in on the best information. “There was a consumer awareness and informational gap that we just needed to close,” explains Raman.
EcoSquid not only makes donating your gadgets painlessly easy but it offers an incentive to do so. Users can earn points for simply learning about recycling programs, clicking around on the site, offloading equipment and for referring friends. Users can then redeem those points for upgrades. For example, 1,000 points can be earned by referring 5 friends and will earn you a free Droid X. EcoSquid works with licensed dealers to provide upgrades.
The site officially launched in August 2010 after a round of angel investing. EcoSquid currently makes money through transactional fees with affiliate sites but they are not paid for donations. They will also be making money from licensed dealers when users start using the point system to purchase upgraded phones.
In addition to their new site launch today, the gentlemen have an open API and a widget in the works. To learn more about how to get rid of your giant Zach Morris era phone, follow EcoSquid on Twitter, Facebook, and the EcoSquid Blog. Check out the site here.