iCracked Launches A Way To ‘Uber’ Someone Up To Buy Back Your Old iPhones

iCracked, the Y Combinator company that has quietly built up an empire on repairing broken iPhones and iPads, is launching a way to call someone up on demand to buy your old phones back.

With the new iPhone 5s and 5c out this week, it’s an opportune moment for the 30-person startup from Redwood City. iCracked basically started out of a dorm room at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where co-founder AJ Forsythe gained a reputation on campus as someone who could fix iPhones on the cheap.

He parlayed that skill into a business that’s on track to do eight figures in revenue this year by selling repair kits and deploying contractors or “iTechs” to fix or buy back devices on the spot. They have more than 400 of these skilled contractors throughout the world.

To date, they’ve had a buyback service where you can mail in your phone. But that business is relatively small with a few thousands devices sent in each month.

But today, they’re launching a way that you can call up someone on-demand in the next few hours to take iPhones or iPads off your hands. Depending on the storage, condition and model of the device, they’ll pay up to a few hundred dollars for the latest iPhones or iPads. It’s available in the San Francisco Bay Area now, but they’ll widen out the reach of the program later on. They’ll expand to Southern California next month, then New York.

The hope is that by lowering barriers, they’ll get many, many more consumers to trade in their phones or tablets for cash.

“The problem with most of the competing buyback programs is the amount of friction it takes to get paid,” said Paul Iliya, the company’s chief commercial officer.

So the way it works is, you go here. You share a little bit about your device — is it an iPhone or iPad? What model is it? How much storage does it have?

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Then you fill out your location, and share your contact information. An iTech will later contact you to set up an appointment. They’ll get dispatched in the next few hours, take a few pictures of your device, check the IMEI number (or unique serial number) to make sure it isn’t stolen, then you’ll sign away the device.

The coolest part is that iCracked will hand you a branded debit card carrying the value of the device. The company spent a year working on this because they didn’t want the financial risk of having contractors walk around with hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash. When an iTech accepts a device, they can load the debit card with money on the spot and hand it over.

Then you can use it like a regular debit card from your personal bank by taking out cash at an ATM or buying goods at a store. The whole in-person transaction should take 15 minutes at most.

The new service ties into iCracked’s ambition of being the ‘AAA’ for people’s devices.

“We just want to create this business where no matter you are in the lifecycle of your device, you can call on iCracked for whatever you need, whether that could be repairs, buybacks or warranties,” Iliya said.

iCracked has just taken seed funding from Y Combinator, its affiliated Start Fund, and other angels like Elad Gil and Roger Dickey.