For Roorkee-based Attero Recycling (Attero), 2011 holds special significance since in July, it ventured into a new territory – that of getting individuals initiated into the process of recycling electronic waste (e-waste). Through its mobile take-back service available on its website – www.atterobay.com, individuals can exchange their mobile phones for cash or credit, based on the estimated value. “We are looking to gauge the response to this service and depending on its success, we will look to launch more services that target individual customers,” says Rohan Gupta, founder-chief-operating officer, Attero. Interestingly, Attero’s credit partners for the venture include youth oriented brands such as United Colours of Benetton and Costa Coffee.

“We had previously outsourced our supply chain management function, but now, an internal team gives us the confidence to launch more challenging services such as the mobile-take back service,” says Gupta

Additionally, the company is just a month away from launching its second e-waste recycling plant in Bengaluru. “This plant will be smaller than our first at Roorkee and the focus here would be on collecting e-waste from SEZs (special economic zones),” adds Gupta.

In our last interaction with Gupta, dated December 15, 2009, we sensed that Attero had worked out a sound business plan with a strong focus on developing the right technology for the job ahead. While that still remains the case, the company has surged forward in terms of building its workforce and improving upon its existing organisational structure. And this has allowed it to foray into areas that would have otherwise been a stiff challenge.

Hiring smart

One of the most significant changes at Attero has been the inception of an in-house logistics team headed by Llyod Stanford, who has over 35 years of international experience working in supply chain management. “We had previously outsourced our supply chain management function, but now, an internal team gives us the confidence to launch more challenging services such as the mobile-take back service,” says Gupta. The company has also instituted comprehensive information technology systems to coordinate with its plant, sales force and backend.

While the company has made some smart hires over the last year, it has also continued its effort in creating awareness about people’s collective responsibility towards preserving the environment. In this regard, it has tied up with schools and non-government organisations to participate in its e-waste programme.

Changing laws

One of the changes that Gupta and his team at Attero are excited about is the new law on e-waste regulation that is expected to be implemented by next year. The proposed law mandates all corporates to be responsible for the collection of their e-waste, including the process of handing goods over to companies in charge of disposal. “Once the law is implemented, we will be looking at expanding our clientele significantly,” says Gupta. This law will also allow the company a greater chance to monetise the process of e-waste collection and disposal as at the moment, only few companies pay for the service rendered.

Looking forward

At present, Gupta states that Attero is sufficiently funded. “In the future, we are considering the option of growing inorganically and at that time, we will require funding,” he adds. The company, which broke even in 2010, also received a Series B funding to the tune of US $ 8.3 million in a round led by venture firms IFC, Granite Hill India Opportunities Fund and its existing investors, IndoUS Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Juvertson. These funds were used towards research and development and the establishment of the new plant in Bengaluru.

As for revenues, Attero grossed between US $ 4 million and US $ 5 million in the last fiscal. “In the current fiscal, we want to multiply our last year’s numbers by four,” shares Gupta. And for this to happen, the company must work towards capitalising on the awareness generated on preserving the environment, an area that individuals and corporate alike are starting to take seriously.

Then and Now – what’s changed 

Inception:  Logistics team led by Lloyd Sanford 

Investment:  Series B funding of US $ 8.3 million led by IFC, Granite Hill and existing investors

Launch:  Mobile take-back service in July 2011. Will soon launch second recycling plant in Bengaluru

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