Smartphones have quickly become an indispensable part of everyday life for the vast majority of the global population, but while more than 6 billion of us are sending texts or following GPS app directions, we may be unaware of just how large an impact our beloved smart devices have on the environment.
On average, a new smartphone generates 85 kilograms in emissions within its first year of use, according to research by Deloitte, and 95 percent of that amount comes from manufacturing, including extracting raw materials and shipping processes.
One major way to help reduce the environmental impact of smartphones and other connected devices is by recycling materials and reusing existing products that are still functional. Baltimore-based Apkudo built a solution with this in mind. The company developed a device-testing platform that helps companies manage smart device inventory across their supply chain networks.
“Connected devices are increasingly a significant part of our modern lives. However, the impact on the environment is considerable and being able to reuse and recycle these devices on a global scale is an important issue that each and every one of us has to address,” Darwin Stephenson, chief innovation officer at Apkudo, told Built In via email. “By democratizing access to refurbished devices, we can significantly reduce the production of new devices, reduce tons of electronic waste entering landfills and get these devices into the hands of people that need them.”
Apkudo does this with its Hive platform. The solution enables companies to connect both their internal systems with those of their external partners on its operating system. From there, Hive gathers data on the devices within their supply chain network, using robotics to determine things like functionality diagnostics and cosmetic grading. Hive then makes automated decisions based on that data and provides companies with insights as to what to do with the devices.
Its solution has gained a lot of traction recently among enterprise customers like AT&T, Samsung, Verizon and Amazon, as the company has doubled its customer count in less than 12 months, according to Stephenson. Apkudo hopes to further this momentum and secured a round of growth funding last month to kickstart its efforts.
Led by Closed Loop Partners, Apkudo’s recent $14.4 million investment will go toward expanding its business, solution and international reach. The company is currently in the final development stages of new products that will bring Apkudo’s platform to both small businesses and consumers, Stephenson said.
To do so, Apkudo is doubling the size of its workforce over the next year with a huge focus on engineering talent. It’s also looking to fill positions for customer care representatives and consultative account managers on its team of about 100 people. Though the company is mainly remote, about 20 percent of its workforce are based at facilities like its Baltimore device lab.
“We’re all about creating products that democratize connected devices. That means software for small businesses, robotics for medium sized businesses and mobile applications for consumers,” Stephenson said. “[In the] long term, we aspire to be the operating system that connected device companies run their business on.”