eRecyclingCorps raised $35 million in a round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), paving the way for the company to expand past the Sprint and Verizon accounts it already counts as customers. KPCB’s portfolio includes Zynga, which just went public on Friday
Based in Irving, Texas, eRecycling handles the recycling or refurbishing of used cell phones in carrier-owned stores in North America. Among its publicly announced clients are Sprint – it’s in about 3,000 Sprint stores – and Verizon Wireless, for which it’s in roughly 550 Verizon stores, with more being added.
The funds will be used to grow eRecycling’s business in North America and expand into Europe, according to CEO and co-founder David Edmondson, a former CEO of RadioShack.
Edmondson met Ron LeMay, the first employee and CEO of Sprint PCS and now chairman of eRecyclingCorps, back in the 1990s when RadioShack started hosting Sprint’s “store-within-a-store” models. With that, RadioShack put Sprint phones on nearly every street corner where there was a RadioShack store.
Years later, the two retired executives reconvened and started the recycling company in 2009, first doing a small pilot for Sprint in Southern California. The company just celebrated collecting its 2 millionth device through Sprint.
Edmondson equates their model to that of a used car dealership. When people are in the market to buy a car, the easiest place to trade in their old model is at the dealership where they want to buy their next model. The same applies to cell phones – trading your old model in – for cash – when you buy a new one at the carrier’s store is most convenient. “We’re going to the place where there’s the greatest number of opportunities to collect devices,” Edmondson says.
Most of the old phones end up in markets where phones are sold on an unsubsidized basis – places like Mexico, Venezuela, India or China.
Unlike an online-only model, there’s also no guessing on the customer’s part as to how much a used phone is worth because it’s done right there in the carrier’s store. Edmondson says eRecycling has a catalog of about 2,500 devices that have been introduced over the past several years, so it basically has the Kelley Blue Book for used wireless devices. The information is tied to the carrier’s point of sale.