Company Co-founded by Rady Alumnus Drew Spaventa Plans Nationwide Expansion

eco atm

A San Diego-based company, ecoATM, co-founded by Rady School alumnus Drew Spaventa (MBA ’10) is the first and only company to create an automated self-serve kiosk system that buys used electronics directly from consumers for cash or store credit. ecoATM's eCycling stations use advanced machine vision, electronic diagnostics and artificial intelligence to evaluate consumer electronic devices and connect in real-time to a worldwide secondary market to ensure best pricing. Customers using ecoATM immediately receive cash or store credit for their electronics.

With the release of the iPhone 5, ecoATM has ramped up installation of its cellphone recycling kiosks in malls nationwide in anticipation of consumers wanting to cash in their older phones to trade up to the new iPhone. By the end of the year, ecoATM expects to have 300 kiosks nationally, up from about 150 today.

"There are going to be millions of people buying the new iPhone 5," Tom Tullie, chief executive of ecoATM, said. "When they do, we want there to be an ecoATM nearby for them to cash in or recycle their old phones."

There are other cellphone recycling options, but most of them require consumers to mail in the phone and wait for a rebate. With ecoATM, the kiosks provide compensation for the phones on the spot, with value determined based on the age and type of device.

The cellphones are either sold to recyclers for their parts or stripped of data and refurbished for resale into emerging countries. The company says about three quarters of the devices it collects are resold.

In its infancy, ecoATM was supported by EvoNexus, the incubator for early-stage high-tech companies, begun by San Diego's high tech industry group, CommNexus. The company was also the winner of Phase 1 and Phase 2 SBIR grants from the National Science Foundation to develop its advanced technologies. ecoATM has been recognized by Popular Science, CONNECT, International Electronics Recycling Conference & Expo (IERCE), Green:Net, CES Innovations and others.

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