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Tired of trying to sell that old phone on eBay? Or finding a charity who will take it? Or giving it for free to Verizon, who then certainly resells it? Then ecoATM is for you. And it solves a big supply chain problem--making it easy to recycle small electronic products that often just end up in landfills.
According to Xconomy, ecoATM, a company that creates kiosks that automate the buy-back of used mobile phones and other used portable electronics directly from consumers, has raised $17 million in funding from Claremont Creek Ventures, Coinstar, TAO Ventures, PI Holdings, Moore Venture Partners, AKS Capital and Koh Boon Hwee. Coinstar operates the change conversion kiosks and owns DVD kiosk service Redbox. The company previously raised $14.4 million from Coinstar, Claremont Creek Ventures, and others.
Here’s how ecoATM works. The seller places their phone into the kiosk (the company says it will not damage the phone nor read/copy any personal data from the device). The kiosk then visually identifies the phone as best it can from a database of around 4,000 devices and uses visual recognition technology to determine if the device has been damaged, and also offers up a device-compatible cable connection which allows it to analyze whether or not the device boots.Based on the type of phone and the shape it’s in, ecoATM makes an offer. Users can then cash out (or cancel the transaction and get their phone back at any time), with the option to donate any percentage of the sale to any one of many charities. The kiosk also accepts MP3 players and others gadgets.Every week, the company picks up the phones sold and sells these to middle market electronics refurbishers, who fix the devices up and resell them or sell the parts to other electronics companies.
Tom Tullie, Chairman and CEO of ecoATM, states that currently there are around 50 ecoATM kiosks operating in the U.S., mostly in California, for now. They are located primarily in malls, grocery stores and big-box retailers, and there is one on the Microsoft Corporate Campus. In addition, ecoATM announced it has been awarded a Phase II grant for up to $1 million from the National Science Foundation. The NSF received 171 Phase II proposals in July 2011, and ecoATM’s grant was one of only about 60 Phase II Awards NSF granted in fiscal year 2012. And ecoATM won the 2011 Crunchie Award for Best Clean-Tech Startup.Tullie says the new funding will be used toward mass commercialization and a national roll-out.