Elite Daily Interviews Recommerce Startup TechPayout - Elite Daily
In 2012, families tend to have a plethora of used, no-longer-desired electronics that sit in the back of a closet simply because everyone wants the newest model gadgets these days. So what happens to these mounds of ignored gadgets?
Currently, the most common thing people do with them is simply throw them out or recycle them properly, and the vast majority of people never think twice about it. But, for the Elite entrepreneur, this status quo is a market opportunity.
Think about retail clothing lines: when clothing brands and stores started to become popular for all social classes in the beginning of the century; for the first time, families had an excess amount of clothing. Some would become hand-me-downs but that was not enough to meet the vast supply.
Besides charity, thrift stores popped up on a large scale around the country allowing families to sell second-hand clothing to the store, which would then sell it back to customers looking for a discount. A simple yet lucrative business model.
Boutique buy-back startup TechPayout was founded by Audrick Kramer to apply this thrift store business model to electronics, while transforming the brick-and-mortar facets of the company into an efficient and streamlined commerce platform.
Being as though this concept is far from new, at first glance one may not perceive TechPayout to be a disruptive service. However, this is a dubious assumption: TechPayout has perfected a unique commerce platform inspired by this olden-day thrift store concept in way that other startups in the sectors have failed to do.
With a strong emphasis on customer service and social media, TechPayout gives users the opportunity to get immediate price quotes for used devices (over 500+ items in their database including smartphones, tablets, iPods), and if they like what they see, they can send in their device (free shipping) in exchange for cash paid via Paypal or Check.
The platform offers an alternative to the frustrations of eBay or Craigslist, and because of TechPayout's streamlined model, Kramer is able to bring in bigger margins than many of the big box store buy-back programs.
Not only is the electronic thrift concept a lucrative market opportunity, but Mobile devices, in particular, are a major growth-market right now. This means more supply & demand for TechPayout, which naturally translates to more business. According to MobileThinking.com, over 1.5 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2011, an increase of over 11% from previous year. And of that, almost 500 million smartphones were sold worldwide in 2011, up a whopping 63% from 2010.
That means a lot of old phones just laying around in a drawer, or worse: a landfill. From the customer's standpoint, wouldn't they rather get paid for what they are acclimated to discarding? The majority of gadgets bought-back eventually find their way in to the hand's of a new user, but for those electronics that have seen their last days, TechPayout promises that no items will ever end up in a landfill and works closely with local recycling centers.
Without further adieu, here is Elite Daily's Interview with Audrick Kramer:
When did that moment hit you that made you want to risk it all by launching an innovative venture?
I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, but did not have the “aha” moment for an ideal business plan until last year. My consumer electronics background helped form TechPayout’s current business model. I decided to leave the corporate world and focus 100% of my efforts on TechPayout."
What is the biggest failure you have experienced in your career? What advice would you give other young people about overcoming failure in a make-or-break venture?
I believe getting too much education before corporate work experience slowed down my career path. I attended my MBA program directly after finishing my Bachelor’s degree. I assumed I would be fast tracked for management by doing so. I learned that no matter how educated and professional you are, you always have to put in the hard time in a corporate career. Experience is so important from a corporate standpoint, as well as an entrepreneurial standpoint." I would advise anyone thinking of pursuing higher education to put some time into either building your own business or working a few years in corporate. The experience you gain will be very valuable after you finish the next degree." And by the way, nothing in life is a failure, just learning lessons."
Was there a turning point in your life that led to the idea for you to start TechPayout?
I had the business model in my mind for some time; I just needed an extra push from an outside perspective. I was lucky enough to meet a few people that shared the same background and passion that were completely on board to help launch TechPayout. As soon as I explained the business model, ideas were flying and the next thing I knew I had left my corporate job and had launched TechPayout."
Explain TechPayout to us and how it works, in a nutshell?
As our slogan says "Turn the tech in your closet to cash in your pocket". Here's how it works: 1) QUOTE YOUR ITEM - Go to techpayout.com and get an instant quote. We have around 500 items in our database and also do custom quotes on just about anything. 2) SEND IT - If you like the pricing, checkout and print your FREE shipping label. Send your item to us at your convenience (quicker you ship, quicker we pay). 3) GET PAID FAST - Once we receive your item(s), we will inspect and typically pay within 24 hours. We pay via Paypal (instant) or Check (few days to arrive in the mail).
What does success mean to you and your business? What is your dream accomplishment for this business?
Our business model is constantly evolving to fit the needs of our customers. Success will be defined as to be a top competitor in the recommerce industry. We have defined aggressive revenue goals and unit volume goals for ourselves." My personal dream for TechPayout is to not only be an industry leader in technology buyback, but to help educate consumers that there are profitable methods to recycle technology. Simply too many phones and devices sit unused and destined for a landfill in the average American’s household."
Who’s career has inspired you & TechPayout the most?
Carlos Dominguez, SVP of Cisco Systems is my mentor and has inspired me the most. Carlos pushes the envelope daily by training people to adapt new technology. He pushed me to follow my plan with Techpayout and give 100% of my time to it." He also introduced me to using social media for business long before Social Media was adopted in the corporate realm. Much of TechPayout’s social media strategy and presence would not be as strong without Carlos’ introducing me to it years ago."
With such an ecologically based business plan, the idea of TechPayout seems too good to be profitable. Some might think you would be lucky to break even. Explain how TechPayout is a financially profitable company?
During initial rounds of business plan preparation, a lot of thought has gone into the revenue model for TechPayout. Luckily we are very familiar with reselling and can assure that all pricing has been planned not only to be very competitive in our industry, but indeed profitable as well." We adjust our pricing daily and are constantly analyzing market pricing fluctuations, as well as competitive pricing. This helps to maximize profit and still pay our customers top dollar for their equipment."
We value your idea and think it is incredibly progressive, but some might view your company as iconoclastic. What would you say to that? Why should a business care about environmental concerns if they don’t have to?
From a business perspective, companies are sitting on thousands of dollars of unused inventory each time they upgrade their staff’s cell phone, computer, or tablet. We simply provide them with a smart method to earn back initial money that was spent on equipment. By using TechPayout they are not only cashing in on aging unused inventory, they are also being environmentally friendly by not throwing out electronics."
Consumers also benefit. An average consumer upgrades their phone every 18 months. A typical American family has 3-4 phones in their house that they have not recycled. Consumers can also be “green” by using TechPayout. They can then recycle their old cell phones and put the money toward newer technology."
The whole point is this; TechPayout provides an avenue for everyone to be environmentally friendly and get paid by doing so. It’s a win-win for everyone. We are happy to provide the service and love doing it."
What plans do you have for your career that we would have never suspected? How do you plan on expanding your business, keeping it relevant in the future?
I actually just launched a Social Media consulting company. It’s a small company that specializes in social media strategy, analysis, and social media management. TechPayout is very active in social media. I plan on using social media to continue to drive sales going forward." My goal is to leverage new technology and bring it into our business model. We will continue to keep a very competitive social media presence in the future."
5, 10, 50 years down the line, when you have achieved everything you aspire for today, where do you see yourself?
I always want to stay relevant and be constantly learning. I would love to sit on a few boards and still be involved in managing a business. Giving back by teaching at a local college would also be very rewarding to me."
More Info on TechPayout:
After interviewing Audrick Kramer, Elite was interested to find more on TechPayout that we have decided to share with you. Let's look at what makes TechPayout unique:
Pricing: TechPayout offers custom 'real human being' quotes, always monitoring price fluctuations in the market, and recognizing additional value for items like brand new packaging, or an unlocked iPhone4.
Social presence: TechPayout is constantly listening to its customers on Twitter & Facebook, and interacting with them on a daily basis.
Win-Win transaction: TechPayout helps customers stay green and de-clutter while making some green at the same time, all items are then given a second life through various channels.
Boutique Approach: TechPayout offers immediate responses, faster payment time, higher customer service, and a real phone # to get a hold of them directly.
Other TechPayout amenities that are coming soon include: Macbook buybacks, monthly sweepstakes, a robust referral program, mobile app, and other incentives to reward their user base.
If you are interested in selling or buying used gadgets, visit http://techpayout.com/