We recently ran into Brett Mosley, CEO and Founder of Denver-based BuyMyTronics.com (www.buymytronics.com), a startup in the electronics recycling and trade-in market, and thought it would be interesting to hear about his company and business. We talked with Brett about what his firm is all about and how he got into the business.
What's the idea behind BuyMyTronics?
Brett Mosley: What we are, essentially, is a company flipping the recycling industry upside-down. We are recycling e-waste--small gadgets, cell phones, iPods, iPhones, and all that good stuff. What we've done, is we've found a way to pay people for both broken and working items, which is a win-win for consumers--who get money--and for the environment--because it keeps really toxic things out of our waste stream. We're doing things that are good for the environment, and good for the wallet.
How do you make money, and can you really make money on broken electronics?
Brett Mosley: A little more than half of what we buy is working. What we do, is we buy used things, and put them back out on the market, and make some profits there. As for the broken stuff, we refurbish them in-house, and for some things which are much more complex, we actually group and sell to people who specialize in those repairs. For example, we might buy an iPod for $10, and put in $20 in parts and $20 in labor, and then we sell it and make a profit. We also pay for shipping, and make sure that items such as Macs and PCs are wiped clean beyond Department of Defense standards.
How'd you start the company, and what's your background?
Brett Mosley: I've always been entrepreneurial, since I was a kid, when my parents were running small businesses. I definitely had experience working in an environment where you are on your own, and you don't have anyone to rely on but yourself, so you make things happen. I graduated from the University of San Diego (USD), and graduated with a degree in business with an emphasis in finance and real estate--and actually just a few credit hours short of marketing. It was a really good education, pedigree, and upbringing. After college, I went into real estate, and then back into the financial field, which I was doing while starting this business. Eventually, doing this on the side, this started to make more so things worked out all right.
Where'd the original idea for the business come from?
Brett Mosley: The initial lightbulb actually happened twice through my college years. Once, I had broken a friend's digital camera, and I had to go get it fixed, and it cost $200 to fix the thing. I figured out that the actual cost at that point of buying that camera used was $100 to $150--the economics just didn't make sense. You were paying an arm and leg to fix something. The same thing with the iPod--and I figured, that doesn't make sense, why don't I start buying these from people, who get some money--better than nothing--and bring those repairs in house, and then put them back on the market. Everyone wins and the consumer gets money for something they think is completely worthless as a broken item.
It seems the repair operations might be difficult to scale--has that been an issue for you?
Brett Mosley: The efficiency of scale has been extremely difficult to get to for us, and we're now just starting to be able to be more comprehensive in our execution of my original dream. At the start, we were looking at simpler fixed, like iPod batteries, and we're now doing Apple repairs, and camera repairs we hadn't been doing when we first started the business. The critical mass of product took awhile, but it's now there and continuing to grow.
Seems like there are only limited number of electronics items that would be worth buying and fixing - are there specific things which are worth buying?
Brett Mosley: What is worth the most are Apple product, across the board. They hold their value. If you look at a five year old Mac laptop, compared to a five year old PC laptop, and you know as well as I which has more value. Apple products are better designed, have better software, and are better products in themselves. We love doing Mac repairs, and if we could do Apple repairs all day, we would. They make a much, more stable product to fix, and consumers willing to pay more because of consumer demand.
It seems buying back products might be capital intensive--is that the case?
Brett Mosley: Yes and no. All of my competition has taken multiple millions of dollars. But, we've grown organically, starting by buying things locally on Craigslist, but now we have multimillion dollar revenues in less than two or three years without having had to attract venture firms.
What are your plans now?
Brett Mosley: Adding more categories. There's always something we're adding, such as adding all cameras on the site. We take over 5,000 products now, probably 6,000 by the end of this month. We take in cell phones, iPods, iPhones, PDAs, game consoles, MP3 players, and now cameras. We take Apple products down to the software. We're also adding new categories, such as camcorders, GPS, and we've been seeing 100 to 200% growth year over year.
What's driving that growth?
Brett Mosley: The concept itself, and we also just relaunched the site in November. Instead of buying a new car, I bought a new site and invested in the technology. The technology on our new site is definitely the top of the line in the industry, for sure.