Today’s Q&A feature is with Jennifer Svensson, CEO VertiGO Solutions. VertiGO’s new consumer app, Yippity, will launch in beta at tonight’s Austin Startup Week’s Austin Tech Happy Hour.
Q: Give us the elevator pitch for your company.
VertiGO Solutions is a mobility systems integrator that offers everything from mobile device recycling to the sale of new devices and services to complex mission critical solutions.
VertiGO is pleased to announce our new solution called Yippity. Yippity is a mobile application designed for the consumer market, providing users with the resale value of their mobile devices and the opportunity to sell and recycle their devices
Q: How did the company get started? Who had the idea? Was there an “A Ha!” moment?
I founded VertiGO as a high-end consultancy focused on enterprise mobility. I was very successful in finding some really great talent and one of the individuals I brought on board was Bruce Friedman, the former Founder and CEO of Movero, one of the original enterprise mobility shops. Time and time again we encountered enterprises that had immature life cycle management solutions, and more specifically, the end of life, meaning what to do with old mobile devices when upgrading. What we also experienced was the rapid proliferation of “the consumerization” of the enterprise – employees bringing personal devices into their workplace. That intersection between personal and professional devices convinced us of the need for a one-to-one, personal, recycling solution for anyone that had a mobile device. That’s how Yippity was born.
Q: Tell us about Yippity. What is it? How does it work?
Currently about 130 million cell phones are retired annually. Out of those, only five to ten percent are recycled. Meaning the rest are either collecting dust in a drawer somewhere or being tossed in the trash – leaking harmful materials into the environment.
Yippity was designed to solve that problem. Yippity is not only a website but an app – available for iPhone and Android devices – that helps consumers easily recycle their mobile devices for cash. The Yippity app lives on your phone, monitors its value and helps consumers sell or recycle their old phone in a guaranteed environmentally friendly fashion. It instantly recognizes your phone, not a phone similar to it. Answer a few basic questions such as “Does your phone have water damage?” and find out in a matter of seconds how much your phone is worth – very handy if you’re considering upgrading (anyone interested in the iPhone 5?!). To make the process even easier, we’ll send you shipping materials – pre-addressed and pre-paid labels – to ship the phone back to us. Put the phone inside, drop it in any USPS box and track your shipment online. We’ll make sure all personal information is completely wiped from the device. Within days you’ll have money in your pocket and a guarantee that your phone wasn’t just thrown in a landfill somewhere.
Q: What was your first indication that you really had something interesting here?
We were already getting a lot of traction on the enterprise side and thought there could be a great consumer play here. So we looked at the landscape out there and even though there are some big box stores and websites with cell phone recycling programs, the fact remains only five to ten percent of people actually recycle their old mobile devices. Clearly there’s a disconnect there. That, combined with the explosive growth in smartphone sales, told us there was a great opportunity to do things a bit differently – to educate consumers on the need for cell phone recycling while building a true one-to-one relationship with them. After all, there’s a reason why so few phones are recycled; either people don’t know the opportunity to do so exists or the process is too much of a hassle.
We knew the key was to make the process intuitive, user friendly and most importantly financially rewarding to our end user. We’re doing this with Yippity by providing the first cell phone recycling app solution that automatically recognizes each user’s device. Once that’s done the rest of the process – from shipping the device to us to getting paid – is designed to be just as easy.
Q: What can we expect to see in the future from your company?
First, you can expect to see the Yippity apps for iPhone and Android – along with www.yippity.com – become generally available later this month. Right now we’re in beta, and really looking forward to formally launching the product.
Second, we are continuing to look at expanding the types of products we accept through Yippity. Currently our focus is on cell phones and tablets, but we have plans to evolve that.
The bottom line is we think we have a real opportunity here…and I think if we are successful we can positively influence how a consumer recycles their mobile devices and fundamentally change the landscape of mobile device recycling.