When exploring the viability and scalability of a wireless recycling company, Christopher Irion noticed that organizations were upgrading employee cell phones about every 10 to 18 months. When he would ask, “Where are the old phones going?,” he didn’t get an answer.
Irion did some digging and was surprised to learn that the sensitive contents of a cell phone −both the private data and toxic chemicals− were often disposed of in careless and irresponsible ways.
With mobile phone use exploding worldwide, there seemed to be no better time for Irion to start a company that would address the wireless recycling needs of businesses and major organizations. In 2005, he and his wife Tonia did just that and called it e-Cycle.
“While some companies had started to address the issue of wireless recycling for consumers, Tonia and I recognized the opportunity in the enterprise market,” says Christopher. “We decided to focus e-Cycle’s efforts on the needs of large and mid-size organizations, as these businesses have the most to gain from recovering their investments in wireless technology and the most to lose from not protecting sensitive corporate data.”
Businesses also have a corporate responsibility to ensure their wireless equipment does not harmfully impact the local environment, he says, adding that e-Cycle gives organizations a way to address those issues with a profitable solution.
To learn how the Irions have been able to grow Hilliard-based e-Cycle so quickly, how they are using the business to give back to the community, and Christopher’s advice to entrepreneurs who are just getting their feet wet, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: e-Cycle was founded on three guiding principles: a love for the environment, technology, and charitable giving. It’s obvious how the environment and technology play a role in the business. How does charitable giving factor in?
Christopher Irion: From the beginning, Tonia and I have made certain philanthropy has been a large part of e-Cycle’s business model. Apart from our own personal charitable giving and involvement, we encourage our enterprise clients to consider donating a portion of their mobile buyback revenues to a charity of their choice.
Since 2005, e-Cycle has contributed more than $250,000 to charities on behalf of our clients— solely through mobile phone recycling buyback revenues. Charities who benefited include the Cleveland Food Bank, Flying Horse Farms, Levine Children’s Hospital, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, among others.
Mobile phone buyback and recycling offers an exciting and sustainable source of new revenues for charitable organizations. We hope to dramatically grow our corporate caring program in the next two years.
[M]: In 2011, Forbes named e-Cycle the 68th most promising company in America and Inc. named it the 5th fastest growing environmental services company. That’s pretty high praise. Were you surprised?
CI: The entire e-Cycle team was very excited to receive both recognitions. The Inc. designation measured our overall growth from 2007 to 2010. The judging panel for Forbes not only looked at our growth, but also our business model, the industry as a whole, our public relations and social media initiatives, marketing initiatives, leadership team, and other innovations.
[M]: How much has e-Cycle grown since launch and to what do you attribute that growth?
CI: We started with two employees in 2005 and now have more than 80. We expect to have 150 employees by the end of this fiscal year. We attribute the growth to recruiting only the most talented group of employees, managers and executives to grow this business and lead to its continued success. We also attribute our success to our strategic partnerships and staying focused on our core business model, B2B mobile buyback, data security, and environmental protection.
[M]: What would you tell someone who is just starting a business?
CI: Hire only “A” players. Stay focused on your core niche. Ask for advice. Don’t be good, be great.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
CI: e-Cycle is the only mobile buyback and recycling company that is e-Stewards Certified. e-Stewards recyclers are rigorously audited to ensure they conform to the highest global standards for environmental protection, data security, and worker safety. It strictly prohibits the export of e-waste into landfills or developing countries. Learn more at e-Stewards.org. To learn more about the e-Cycle process, you can view our animated video below:
To learn more about e-Cycle, visit e-Cycle.com.