Despite the growing number of cell phone recyclers, junk drawers across the country hold 130 million cell phones each year. "Everyone perceives value in their phone; they just don't know what to do with it," says Cyrus Farudi, the 27-year-old co-founder of Flipswap.
Three years ago, Cyrus--along with brothers Sohrob, 30, and Rahmeen, 25, and friends Edo Cohen, 27, and Andrew Berman, 30--decided to tackle the problem of electronics waste. But instead of recycling cell phones, they put them back into use. Their program, now used by 2,500 retailers nationwide and available at cellphonetradeins.com, offers consumers cash for trading in their old phones. More than 15,000 units a month are shipped to Flipswap in Torrance, California, inspected and then sold to companies that sell them back to consumers, most of whom are overseas. The entrepreneurs, who project $12 million in sales this year, have since added iPods to the mix and plan to start "flipswapping" other electronics soon.