ExchangeMyPhone Recycles Old Mobile Phones into Charitable Donations

Posted: October 1, 2012 in Brooklyn Startups
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The problem of what to do with old cell phones once you’ve upgraded to a new one is a universal problem. Most of us toss old phones into utility drawers or banish them to some other part of the house where they will be quickly forgotten about but available just in case we need to use them again. The problem is, we never need old mobile phones once we’ve upgraded. Even worse, millions of phones end up in landfills where they threaten the environment.

Brooklyn-based startup, ExchangeMyPhone, has the perfect solution to our old-mobile phone woes. The startup erases the data from your old phone, refurbishes it and donates it to a charity of your choice. They work with over half a million charitie.

In this Crains New York interview, ExchangeMyPhone co-founders Katherine Preston and Jeremy Cohen explain the inspiration behind their startup and how they are growing their business. Below is an excerpt from the article wherein they describe how they turned their own disability into a business that helps other people:

It’s interesting that you and Jeremy have turned a disability into an idea for a business. How did that come about?

It was partly that we wanted to change the way we saw the dreaded phone, but beyond that, everyone we knew had a drawer full of old or broken phones that they didn’t know what to do with. We wanted to create a solution that would address both, and also keep old phones from ending up in landfills.

What’s the connection to nonprofits?

When we launched this in May 2011, we donated a book to a local literacy project for each phone someone sent us. But we wanted to do more and give our customers more options. So we partnered with FirstGiving, a Boston-based organization that has raised more than $1 billion in online donations for a wide variety of causes. By teaming up with them, we gave our customers a choice of donating their old phones, or the proceeds from recycling those phones, to any of the 765,000 registered nonprofits in the United States.

How does it work?

Anyone with an old phone they don’t want can go to our website, type in a description of it and get a price quote. A very old or irreparably broken phone might be worth nothing, but if that’s the case, we recycle it—and the customer gets a postage-paid shipping label so they can send it to us free of charge. The average price quote is about $50, but some phones are worth much more. For instance, a used iPhone 4S 64GB in pristine condition currently has a price quote of $300 on our site.

Then we refurbish the phones, after first stripping all the old data out of them, and either donate them to nonprofits or, if the customer hasn’t designated a charity, sell them at very low prices to people who can’t afford a brand-new phone, or to bulk distributors who resell them at bargain prices.

We also work with businesses to offer a solution to the problem of what to do with old cellphones when their employees upgrade. This program is really popular because it provides companies with a new revenue stream and gives them an easy way to donate to charity. It also fits well with so many businesses that have a “green” mission to minimize what ends up in landfills.

Read the entire interview at Crains New York HERE.


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