Tech reboot: cashing in on refurbished e-assets

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 24, 2018


Gurgaon-based Reboot Systems gives discarded PCs, tablets second lease of life

Expensive electronic assets — personal computers, tablets, and smartphones — could soon be passé in Tier-II and III cities as economically-priced, refurbished gadgets become popular, making the dream of a Digital India come true, and faster.

Despite India’s prowess in information technology, the nation’s digital divide is alarming due to abysmally low computer penetration. With less than 10 per cent computer penetration, India lags behind even Pakistan (19 per cent) and Sri Lanka (14 per cent), due mainly to the high cost involved in digitisation and expensive import of IT assets. Only 2.2 per cent of public schools have computers, with 5-10 children sharing a single PC.

Extending the life of used technology, or rebirth of e-assets, may, however, work wonders. “The only way forward to increase IT penetration is to go the whole hog for refurbished PCs, tablets, and smartphones,” Rahul Chowdhury, CEO and Co-Founder, Reboot Systems India Pvt Ltd, told BusinessLine.

A refurbished “just like new” smartphone costs only Rs 999, while such a PC costs just Rs 4,500. “On an average, a refurbished desktop costs 40-60 per cent less, while a laptop costs 30-40 per cent less than the new one,” he added. He strongly denied that refurbished e-assets could be seen as “second hand”. “A refurbished PC comes with an authentic Microsoft licence fee of only Rs 600 as against a new PC’s fee of Rs 11,400. So, there is no case for a piracy.”

The Gurgaon-based Reboot Systems, India’s only national IT goods refurbisher, has, since its inception in October 2012, sold over 14,000 refurbished computers to educational institutions, NGOs, and MSMEs. It is now doubling capacity to refurbish e-assets to 10,000 pieces per month. “At present, we are selling 1,500 computers a month.”

Chowdhury said computer penetration in the US increased substantially when 27 of 50 states there mandated that all government agencies and state-owned schools/enterprises would only buy refurbished IT products, thereby saving capital expenditure and enhancing the budget, besides adopting green practices. It is 25 times environmentally friendlier to refurbish and reuse than to recycle a PC at the age of three-five years. Manufacturing a new PC requires three times the energy a PC consumes in its lifespan, he said.

Similarly, Germany and France also mandated that refurbished IT assets would be used across their government offices. India, which has just 16 computers per 1,000 people — only 90 lakh out of 16.8 crore rural households and 1.5 crore of 7.8 crore urban households currently have a PC — is yet to follow these examples.

Reboot Systems, a Microsoft-registered refurbisher and an e-waste certified IT disposition company, is engaged in recovery, refurbishing and remarketing e-assets — desktops, laptops, PC peripherals and mobility devices such as smartphones and tablets.

In 2012, the company had a private angel round and five investors invested nearly Rs 3 crore in it. Its revenues increased from Rs 87 lakh (for November 2012 to March 2013) to Rs 3.25 crore in 2014-15.

Reboot analyses the IT resources of an organisation and buys them individually at prices higher than those offered by unorganised dealers and recyclers. Before the IT asset disposition and e-waste recycling process, Reboot undertakes a military grade data wipe process within the office premises to ensure 100 per cent data security of the organisation’s IT data.

These used IT resources, instead of being scavenged and thrown away in garbage dumps, are then processed in a factory through a 16-point quality testing to troubleshoot and correct problems in order to create ‘just like new’ IT products. The Reboot products are then packaged and sold to customers with a one-year national replaceable warranty, with extended two- or three-year protection plans. By 2016, it plans to have over 250 outlets across India. It also has zonal partners in various states, brick-and-mortar stores, and an online store.

Reboot is the exclusive desktop category merchant partner for e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Junglee, and was a winner of the ISB IVEY Global Case Competition 2013 for being ‘A Frugal Solution for the Digital Divide’.

Published on July 13, 2015

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