Cell Phone Recycler Rings Up Some Cash

A lot of ideas are bandied about in coffee shops, and then forgotten. But Mark Bowles and his business partners took their recycling brainchild, which they came up with while consuming caffeinated drinks in a Starbucks, and put it into action.

As Bowles recalls, the derivation for ecoATM began in late 2008 at a Starbucks in Del Mar, Calif., where he met daily for two months with Michael Librizzi and Pieter van Rooyen. Bowles, who previously co-founded Staccato Communications and a host of other tech startups, according to his LinkedIn profile, says the three of them together have launched numerous companies over the past 20 years in the wireless, mobile and chip industries.

“We would sip coffee and contemplate ideas for our next venture. Surrounding us at other tables were other groups of unemployed techies who also were carefully scheming their next moves in the wavering economy of 2008,” Bowles says.

That’s how ecoATM was founded…in a coffee shop, says Bowles. You can read more about the VC-backed company in my story on Reuters.

The idea behind ecoATM, which competes against other VC-backed ewaste recyclers, gets much of its inspiration from Coinstar, which has helped people return their jars of pennies and other loose change. Now, ecoATM has another connection to Coinstar. Coinstar founder Jens Molbak has joined the ecoATM board and invested an undisclosed amount.

Bowles says that the Series A round remains open.