Baltimore-based tech startup Apkudo raises $37.5M to help companies manage connected devices across supply chains and reduce e-waste
In just over a decade since the launch of the first iPhone, smartphones and other connected devices have quickly become part of our everyday lives. But while billions of people are sending over 8.7 billion texts to each other globally every day, one thing we may be unaware of is the impact smart devices have on the environment.
According to some sources, the average lifespan of smartphones is currently 2.5 years. Other sources claimed that it could be about one to one and a half years for the newer generation of smart devices before they are replaced. Regardless, while we trade in our old smartphones for new ones, we still have no idea what happens to these devices after they’re returned to the phone company or the manufacturers.
Currently, there are more than six billion smartphones circulating globally and this number is expected to grow rapidly with increasing connectivity and consumption across the globe. These electronic devices are made of valuable resources, from the rare earth metals contained in their batteries to their individual electronic components.
Yet today, less than 20% of electronics are collected, refurbished, or recycled worldwide, which translates to a lost value of more than $50 billion each year. Furthermore, these devices contain several hazardous materials and when not managed properly at end-of-life, pollute air and groundwater at an alarming rate. It’s against this backdrop that one tech startup has made it its mission to help reduce the environmental impact of unused smartphones and other connected devices.
Enter Apkudo, a Baltimore, Maryland-based device-testing platform that helps companies manage inventory of connected devices across their supply chain networks. Apkudo enables supply chain efficiency and transparency across the lifecycle of connected devices and helps companies manage, sell, and test connected devices like smartphones and laptops while supporting smart decision-making and strengthening the repair, resale, and recycling market. With ApKuod, companies are able to “drastically cut down on e-waste by uncovering the next best use for every connected device,” the company said on its website.
To further grow its Circular Industry Platform and expand its reach, Apkudo announced today that it raised $37.5 million in a Series C funding round co-led by Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund, and Piper Sandler Merchant Banking with participation from MissionOG, Harbert Growth, Grotech Ventures, Lavrock Ventures, and Point Field Partners.
The latest funding comes almost a year after the startup raised $14.4 million in growth funding to expand its international reach and double its staff. The latest round, which brings Apkudo’s total raised to $75 million, will be used to expand Apkudo’s engineering teams, build out the company’s go-to-market function and establish a global international presence.
“Management chose to raise now so that we can respond appropriately to the intense market demands for the Apkudo platform,” Matthews said. “Our customers are also asking us to expand with them beyond mobility and into compute while also working together in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.”
Matthews founded Apkudo in 2011 with his friend Ben Leslie. The two met while they were both students at the University of New South Wales in Australia. The duo sought to build a service that companies could be used to help companies manage connected devices to maximize device value, minimize labor costs and reduce e-waste.
Apkudo’s technology creates greater transparency and resiliency across the electronic device value chain, empowering businesses to make smart decisions regarding their devices, from launch, to forward logistics, to return, reuse, and recycling at a device’s end-of-life.
“Velocity, accuracy, and transparency are required attributes of efficient, effective circular supply chains,” said Josh Matthews, CEO and Co-founder of Apkudo. “The Apkudo Circular Industry Platform is transformative in its approach to connecting industry participants and optimizing these outcomes for each and every device that moves through it.”
“There is so much value within the connected devices already in the market today. Increasing their useful life and keeping these valuable materials in circulation, and out of landfills and the environment, is a critical part of accelerating the circular economy,” said Martin Aares, Head of Asset Management at Closed Loop Partners. “Apkudo is helping build a circular future for connected devices––one that is more transparent and agile. We look forward to working with the Apkudo team as they accelerate the systems change needed for a waste-free future.”
“It’s actually a simple question – what should I do with this device, right now?”, added Seth Harward, managing director, Piper Sandler Merchant Banking. “But it took Apkudo to recognize all the pieces needed to answer that question, then build the solution that customers needed, and then finally make it easy for companies to use. This additional investment will help Apkudo get their solution to companies all over the world looking for a better way.”