Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Hans Chung – Social Entrepreneur Planting Phones

Hans Chung

Who is the person?

Hans Chung, co-founder of PlantMyPhone. Before PlantMyPhone, I co-founded and sold a blog advertising network (CrispAds) that was acquired by Intela, a growing lead-generation company. Prior to doing startups, I was a business strategy consultant focused on advising large Asian technology companies about new growth opportunities.

Name of Social Enterprise?

  • PlantMyPhone

What came about that made them help in social change?

  • Running an ad network was a great learning experience, but not a meaningful experience. I wanted to do something meaningful after that.

What is your product or service?

  • PlantMyPhone responsibly recycles your phone and sells the recycled materials to fund tree planting.

Date officially launched?

  • PlantMyPhone launched at the end of March 2010. Before that we spend 2 years on Mokugift, a service that lets people plant real trees in tropical countries and send an e-card to represent it.

How many years and how many people has this person helped?

  • PlantMyPhone has been live for 6 months and planted about 4000 trees
  • Mokugift has been live for 2.5 years and planted 282,000 trees

What is the cost per person that is being helped? Are you working on decreasing that cost by being more efficient?Could others help you and how?

  • We plant trees via two award winning tree planting organizations that focus on integrating trees into agricultural processes that are environmentally and economically sustainable. Our partners focus on their part, we see our role as finding new sources to fund the expansion of their operations. So we are more interested in growth than in reducing costs of tree planting. The costs we would want to reduce are the cost of acquiring new participants in cell phone recycling. Our costs are in upfront time spent in establishing partnerships. Others can help by promoting our pledge campaign either as individuals or as companies.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

  • Pbwiki, google analytics

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

  • 5

What is the one thing that you did right?

  • Be true to our mission and saying ‘no’ some opportunities. We believe that it is very important to provide a tangible connection for people, so we plant a minimum of one tree for every cell phone that we send in. Often times we loose money when doing this, but on average we can afford to do it. We will not act like other companies that plant a fraction of a tree if some action is taken (ie: visit this web page and we will plant 1/1000th of a tree).

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

  • It was a challenge to understand the offline logistics involved creating all the materials and processes for marketing and accepting cell phones for recycling. We had to learn quickly and made mistakes along the way. Coming from a completely online industry, we needed a lot of patience.

What can you tell other entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?

  • You have to be economically sustainable first before you can help your cause. Leverage technology to enable people to be closer to their philanthropic impact. Your cause can be an ‘add-on’ to a me-too service, but if your cause is built into the core you have more opportunities and direction. For example, Tom’s shoes is a shoe company that adds-on philanthropy. Their shoes must compete on par with other shoe companies who focus purely on shoes.

What book(s) have you read that others should read?

Plan B 4.0, Innovator’s Dilema

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