How This Young Man is Changing the Tech Landscapes with Sustainable Smartphones

Yug Bhatia, Founder and CEO, ControlZ

In a world dominated by fast-paced consumerism and rapid technological advancements, the choice between refurbishing phones and manufacturing new ones holds the key to economic prosperity, environmental responsibility, and equitable access to premium technology. As a promoter of minimalism, sustainability and circular economy, Mahima Sharma, Founder, The Think Pot engaged in an insightful conversation with Yug Bhatia, Founder and CEO, ControlZ. Together they find out how the concept of ‘Refurbishing Smartphones’ is reshaping the way we think about innovation, sustainability, and clean environmental practices.  In this exclusive interview Yug also delves into the data security aspects and your privacy too! Take a read…

Can you discuss the economic benefits of refurbishing phones compared to manufacturing new ones? How does your business contribute to job creation and local economies?

Refurbishing phones holds a central role in our business model, and the economic benefits are profound. By refurbishing phones, we actively contribute to a circular economy by elongating the life cycle of smartphones. This process substantially reduces the need for producing new phones, leading to a direct conservation of raw materials and a reduction in energy consumption. This conservation results in significant cost savings for our consumers and business partners, providing them with attractive and affordable alternatives to purchasing brand-new smartphones.

Furthermore, our refurbishment process plays a pivotal role in job creation and fostering local economies. Our operations involve a comprehensive refurbishment process carried out by a team of skilled engineers, technicians, and support staff. We prioritize the localization of our operations, aiming to source components locally whenever feasible. This not only bolsters the local economy but also fosters skill development and job growth within the community. By providing employment opportunities to individuals in the region, we actively contribute to the economic prosperity of the communities in which we operate.

Are there any environmental benefits associated with your business model?

Annually, 1.5 billion smartphones are sold worldwide, yet a significant portion of these devices is not fully utilized to their capacity. Premature disposal and suboptimal usage patterns mean that valuable resources and potential functionalities of these devices are not maximized, representing a substantial missed opportunity for sustainability and responsible consumption.

Renewing phones represents a pivotal initiative in minimizing the environmental impact of the electronics industry. It stands as a key strategy in reducing waste and efficiently managing precious resources by revitalizing existing components, consequently mitigating the necessity for extensive new manufacturing.

In essence, extending the life of smartphones reduces the overall waste generated by the constant cycle of disposal and manufacturing. This process aligns with our dedication to sustainable practices, contributing to a greener and more environmentally conscious future.  Research and studies unequivocally confirm the environmental advantages of refurbishing. The data is compelling—refurbishing phones emit a striking 80% less carbon and consume a remarkable 85% less energy compared to manufacturing brand-new devices. 

At ControlZ, our unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility is deeply ingrained in our operational ethos. Through our practices, we actively engage in the broader global effort to combat environmental challenges, paving the way for a more sustainable and ecologically mindful approach to electronics.

Are there any technological innovations driving your industry forward? Please share all, in case these are an integral part of the supply chain management.

The Change is in your HandsOur company is at the forefront of incorporating cutting-edge technological innovations to drive efficiency and effectiveness in our smartphone refurbishment process. We leverage advanced automation technology as a cornerstone of our operations. This automation empowers us to conduct a comprehensive initial quality check of devices, ensuring that every aspect of the smartphone is rigorously assessed. From the internal components to the exterior aesthetics, our automated systems meticulously evaluate each device, enabling a streamlined and standardized assessment process.

Moreover, we’re actively progressing toward full automation in the renewal process. This strategic development aims to enhance the efficiency of our operations, resulting in quicker, more straightforward, and highly accurate refurbishments. Complete automation is set to revolutionize our refurbishment pipeline, optimizing resource allocation, reducing turnaround times, and further elevating the overall quality of our renewed smartphones.

These technological advancements play an integral role in our supply chain management. They ensure that our processes are not only efficient but also consistent, meeting high standards of quality and performance. By embracing automation and working towards complete automation in refurbishment, we position ourselves as industry leaders, demonstrating our commitment to delivering top-tier refurbished smartphones while contributing to a more sustainable and technologically advanced electronics industry.

How do you ensure data privacy in case a refurbished phone comes to you from someone who doesn’t know how to delete his data from the phone? What tips would you give to the consumers to follow before putting their phone on sale as well as buying a refurbished one?

When a refurbished phone is received from an individual who may not have deleted their data, we have a meticulous process in place that securely erases any existing data, leaving no trace of the previous owner’s personal information. We use what has undergone a product claims test by ADISA. ADISA sets the standard for data disposal services. We meet and exceed the most rigorous standards in data erasure set by the major leaders in secure data disposal.  Our team ensures that all data is wiped securely, following best practices to maintain the highest levels of data privacy and security.

Coming to the second part of your query, to educate consumers and encourage responsible actions concerning data privacy, we provide the following tips:

  • Before Selling a Phone Perform a Factory Reset: Always conduct a factory reset on your phone to wipe all personal data and restore it to its original state.
  • Backup Data: Before resetting, ensure you have backed up your important data like photos, contacts, and documents to a secure location.
  • When Buying a Refurbished Phone Do your research: It is important to note that not all refurbished phones deliver the same quality. Therefore, it’s recommended to conduct extensive research before purchasing one. Look for trustworthy sellers that provide dependable warranties for your peace of mind.
  • Ask questions: Once you find a potential seller, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Ask about the refurbishment process, warranty coverage, and the return policy of the seller to clarify any doubts.
  • Check the IMEI number: Every phone has a distinct IMEI number used to follow stringent privacy standards to protect your personal information
How do pricing strategies in the refurbished phone market compare to the new phone market? Where do you see the refurbished phone market heading in the next 5-10 years?

Refurbished phones stand out as a cost-effective alternative compared to their new counterparts. Typically priced 40-60% lower, these renewed devices appeal to price-sensitive consumers seeking a budget-friendly option. This pricing advantage is a direct result of the refurbishment process, repurposing existing phones and reducing production expenses.

Looking into the future, the refurbished phone market is on an upward trajectory, driven by consumer trends favoring sustainability and fiscal prudence. As people increasingly opt for pre-owned devices, the market is expected to witness substantial growth. We are strategically positioned to leverage this trend, focusing on robust revenue growth through competitive pricing strategies for renewed devices. Our commitment to refining refurbishment processes and ensuring cost-competitive offerings is poised to significantly contribute to the expanding refurbished phone market. This shift not only caters to consumer demands for affordable and eco-conscious choices but also signals a promising future where refurbished devices carve a prominent niche in the smartphone industry.

In what ways does your company work to ensure that refurbished technology is accessible to marginalized or underserved communities, both locally and globally? 

ControlZ holds a vision of democratizing access to premium technology, ensuring that it is within reach for all. We aim to cater to the aspirational audience that seeks top-tier quality but might face financial constraints. By refurbishing smartphones to the highest standards, we want to bridge this gap and offer an opportunity for individuals to experience and own premium devices without the traditionally associated high costs.

Secondly, our commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with this objective. Through refurbishment, we make premium technology not only accessible but also sustainable, reducing the environmental footprint. By prolonging the life cycle of smartphones and providing them at affordable prices, we empower individuals to embrace innovation and enjoy the benefits of advanced technology without burdening their pockets.

In essence, our goal is twofold: to make high-quality technology attainable for everyone and to ensure that this accessibility is in harmony with our environment. We believe that by doing so, we’re not only meeting the needs of our customers but also contributing positively to the global community and the planet we share.

About Yug Bhatia: He is the Founder and CEO of ControlZ, which is committed to renewing smartphones and promoting sustainable consumption. He also serves as the Associate Director of Corporate Affairs at LML. Yug is hands-on with ControlZ operations, ensuring high-quality standards and foreseeing potential issues taking forwards his goal of promoting responsible consumption and solutions for the community.

Images Courtesy: ControlZ

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