BELLEVUE, WA -- Coinstar Inc. said it's accepting entries for its second annual Next Big Idea contest. The company also said it has invested an undisclosed sum in last year's winning company, ecoATM, a maker of mobile phone recycling kiosks.
Entrepreneurs with a viable business idea for an innovative, kiosk-based solution are invited to submit their entries by Sept. 30 for a chance to win this year's Next Big Idea $10,000 prize. Submissions can be made at the Coinstar website.
Coinstar will select a winner who presents the best kiosk solution for consumers or retailers, most promising growth potential, originality and practicality, among other criteria. Winning ideas may come from a service that doesn't exist today, such as self-service coin counting that was pioneered by Coinstar in the early 1990s, or from changing the way an existing product is offered, like its Redbox DVD rental kiosks. The winner will be announced at the Customer Engagement Technology World conference on Nov. 10 in New York City.
"As a leader in automated retail, Coinstar is looking to reward entrepreneurs who have an innovative idea for a self-service solution and to identify high-potential companies for future investment opportunities," said Coinstar chief operating officer Gregg Kaplan.
San Diego-based ecoATM was the winner of Coinstar's inaugural Big Idea contest in 2009. Its eCycling stations allow consumers to trade in used electronic devices for cash and store credit. The kiosks visually and electronically scan used devices, like mobile phones and iPods, to establish their precise values and pay consumers on the spot.In the ecoATM business plan, the collected devices would be sold in worldwide secondary markets or responsibly recycled to reclaim the materials.
Founded in 2008, ecoATM currently has pilot kiosks in a limited number of markets and plans to expand in the United States and internationally over the next several years.
"As a leader in automated retail, Coinstar is continually looking for kiosk concepts that are innovative and compelling," Kaplan commented. "We believe ecoATM could be a viable business as it provides an easy way for consumers to properly resell and/or recycle the more than $7 billion in used mobile phones that are annually retired in the U.S., while creating a sustainable secondary market for these devices."