You know those mobile devices that everyone keeps raving about? Turns out it’s a huge business. Shocker, I know. Strategy Analytics recently estimated that about 1.6 billion mobile phones shipped in 2012. What’s more, according to Canalys’ report today, the tablet market grew by 75 percent in the fourth quarter to 46.2 million units, with total shipments hitting 114.6 million in 2012.
With all these new devices hitting the market, people tend to overlook the fact that this creates an enormous amount of waste. ecoATM debuted in 2011 with a green solution: Give consumers an easy way to recycle their used electronics. The San Diego-based startup has been on a mission to become the Coinstar for used, mobile devices, offering consumers ATM-like kiosks that automate the buy-back of their has-been electronics and give them a cash reward for doing so.
With the tablet market growing like gangbusters, last week, the company expanded its support to include tablets, which means that its kiosks will now accept your iPads in addition to your cell phones, smartphones and MP3 players. Over the last year, the startup has gone from 50 kiosks to about 300 across 20 states, and this year, it hopes to add another 600 or 700 kiosks, bringing cash for clunky devices to a mall near you.
To support this growth, the 2012 Crunchies Winner announced today that it has secured $40 million in debt financing from Falcon Investment Advisors, which ecoATM CEO Tom Tullie says will help provide the fuel it needs to continue nationwide expansion.
“There’s still a large percentage of the country that doesn’t have access to a convenient recycling solution for their mobile phones and other personal portable electronic devices,” Tullie says of the new debt round. “We raised this money to help us deploy ecoATMs nationwide and help people recycle their old phones, tablets, or MP3 players, regardless of where they live.”
To date, ecoATM’s expansion plan has focused primarily on positioning its kiosks in shopping malls in large metropolitan areas — for good reason — “eventually, we’re going to run out of malls,” ecoATM marketing director Ryan Kuder told us recently. So, with its new capital, the startup wants to expand into smaller cities and other types of high-foot traffic areas, like supermarkets and smaller retail outlets.
And, according to Kuder, the expansion reflects a growing demand (and growing use of) its kiosks among consumers. Yes, people are actually using the machines. Kuder says that people used ecoATM to recycle “hundreds of thousands of phones” last year and has paid out “millions of dollars to hundreds of thousands of customers.”
By doing so, Tullie added, the company has been able to save landfills from “hundreds of thousands of potentially toxic devices,” as it has been able to “find a second life” for 60 percent of the devices it has collected, while recycling the rest.
The new debt round adds to the $17 million in funding it has raised to date from Claremont Creek Ventures, Coinstar, TAO Ventures, PI Holdings, Moore Venture Partners, AKS Capital and Koh Boon Hwee, to name a few. In 2012, the company was also awarded a Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation for up to $1 million. The new financing brings ecoATM’s total funding to just over $70 million.
For more, find the company at home here.