WHO: Rich Littlehale
WHAT: YouRenew, an online business where you can buy, sell, and recycle your old electronics.
HOW: People, planet, and profit: the three bottom lines on which Rich Littlehale wanted to launch a company. Passionate about preserving the environment, Littlehale was in his junior year at Yale University when he stumbled upon a golden idea. “I had originally thought up an idea for a beverage company,” says Littlehale, “but the initial capital required and the barriers to entry seemed too daunting.”
So instead, Littlehale decided to launch a business that focused on products that had already been made, instead of using money and resources to create something new. YouRenew allows customers to recycle their old electronics — customers visit the site, and search to see the value of their used electronics. Those with value can be sold on the site, and those without are recycled. For every item you recycle, you can choose to donate to carbonfund.org, dedicated to using domestic renewable energy, or americanforests.org, where your recycled product can go towards planting a tree. YouRenew has also offset all of its carbon emissions, so you can be sure your donation is making a real difference, without a negative impact on the environment.
In order to launch the company, Littlehale had to make some big changes to his lifestyle. “I took a year off from school to focus on the company full-time,” says Littlehale (though he is back at Yale finishing his degree now). Using $15,000, Littlefield decided to jump right in. “I knew it was a good time to take a risk – I’m young, and have no family to support or any big financial commitments.”
A little over a year later, the company has grown, and is aiming to process over $10 million in used electronic devices in 2010. “Right now, we’re laser focused on improving YouRenew and sharing our story,” says Littlehale. “We founded the company with the belief that people and organizations want to do the right thing with their old electronics,” says Littlehale, “and the more people who are aware of both the problem with not recycling their old electronics and who know about us as a convenient solution to do so, the better!”
HIS ADVICE: “Make sure that your business is something you believe in to your core,” says Littlehale. “If you truly believe in it, you’ll attract employees who do as well and it will get you through the tough times when things do not seem to be going your way.”
If you come across a small business with a great story, please let us know. All suggestions welcomed!