Founded: 2008 Employees: 21 Revenue 2011: more than $2.5 million
When Robert Casey first learned that the average lifespan of a cell phone is only 15 months, the then-Yale undergrad imagined that refurbishing working phones could keep them out of landfills—and be more profitable than recycling them for metal and parts.
With less than 20 percent of electronic waste recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, "We’re competing against the trash can," says Casey, now 23. From his dorm room, he and Rich Littlehale started YouRenew.com in 2008, paying consumers for used electronics, such as cell phones and laptops, and reselling them (a customer can get $130 for an iPhone 3GS 16GB in good condition).
Data is cleared from devices, which are tested, refurbished, repackaged, and resold to small retailers and independent authorized dealers. YouRenew later began servicing corporate clients, such as Chicago law firm Jenner & Block. Companies that need to dispose of large volumes of phones, computers, and servers securely now make up most of its business.
Led by Chief Executive Guy Minetti, 60, YouRenew has processed 91,000 orders to date, some involving hundreds to thousands of items. Casey expects the company to handle more than 100,000 devices this year.
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