Another Cloud Podcast

A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.

Want to Make a Social and Environmental Impact at the Same Time? Listen to this.

with Alex McBratney and Dustin Riedel

Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.

Alex McBratney (Host)  00:00

Hello, and welcome to Another Cloud Podcast, a podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience. Hey, we are excited to be here on a Friday afternoon. We have a guest, his name is Brandon Smith from Human I-T, VP of Business Development. Brandon, it is great to have you on this podcast. Welcome. Welcome. 

Brandon Smith (Guest)  00:31

Thank you, Alex. Great to be here. Appreciate that. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  00:34

And you're absolutely welcome. We're glad to have you here. Dustin, my co-host. How you doing today? What's going on? What's new?

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  00:41

Rockin' and rollin. Thrilled that it's Friday, thrilled that we have a great person and Brandon good, longtime, longtime friend of mine for like, I wouldn't even know how long five or six years. 

Brandon Smith (Guest)  00:55

Five, six, yeah, yeah, pre-dawn...

Alex McBratney (Host)  00:58

Great because a hot minute...

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  01:00

... but good friends 

Alex McBratney (Host)  01:01

Pre-COVID. You guys go way back.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  01:05

Yeah. Brandon is that..., we were doing Tuesday dinners at like twice a month, even when, like, for a good maybe the past year and a half or two years. And when COVID was real rough. We were meeting in the park at night, eating pizza hanging out trying to get our social on. We're both extroverts.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  01:28

We needed that human interaction.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  01:29

We did.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  01:30

But it was definitely sitting in the park in the dark with a pizza.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  01:34

Yeah, it was incredible. While holding hands, maybe. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  01:40

Clearly, we can tell we all know each other fairly well. We can banter... I've actually had the pleasure of meeting Brandon. Gosh, it must have been six or seven years ago when Human-I-T was just in its infancy. You guys were in the heart of commerce up there in LA and a small little warehouse. And some people are probably wondering, Well, why do they have a small warehouse floor. So what I'd like to do is Brandon, and once you give a two minute commercial, on what Human-I-T is what you guys do. And then Dustin and I are going to dig in and help share the audience and find out from you like where are some areas where things are changing how things are growing, but let you take over and just give us that that highlight of Human-I-T.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  02:24

Yeah, happy, too. So why we need a warehouse, right. So Human-I-T is a nonprofit, we're also a social enterprise, what we do is simply put as we take in the old or unwanted technology that businesses no longer need. It's from the consumer grade desktops, laptops, tablets, those types of things. So the enterprise grade servers, switches, phone systems, you name it, rather than just grinding them up or flipping them for a quick buck. We'll bring him in, we'll wipe them, refurbish them, and even upgrade them, and then finally repurpose them out to provide digital access to remote students, low income families, nonprofits, that type of thing. So we're allowed to help people gain access, typically, for the first time, not just with devices themselves, but internet connections, we have digital literacy training courses, as well as both hardware and software support to really help whether it's a first time user or something that's a little bit older, you know, like a senior citizen or a veteran that needs access, or a student that just needs to do their homework over the last year. During COVID. It's all about giving people that access, give them that opportunity to what we say is actually giving. So it's equal opportunity, not equal outcome. So it's really great to everybody needs a computer, you can imagine what it would have been like for anybody's kids over the last year to just hop on and do something as simple as your homework, let alone stay entertained, just so you know, regrettably, one out of five students over the last year haven't had a computer. So we're in that fight for what's called a digital divide. And it's about getting devices out there. We're definitely producing a lot of E waste. Over 150,000 computers are thrown out every single day. Meanwhile, there's 80 million Americans that don't have a computer. So it's not a supply and demand issue is just allocation. Let's give these things a second life. Let's not shred them and dump them overseas. We don't need to make a bunch of new stuff. Let's take the three year old computer from a company, wipe it, refurbish it and take their assets that they need off their hands anyhow, and get it out to the people that need it.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  04:21

Can you tell us those numbers again, how many people in the US don't have a computer?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  04:25

over 80 million lack either computer or internet access? 

Alex McBratney (Host)  04:29

Wow. You guys heard...

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  04:31

 20 million is like 25%.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  04:35

It's and you need both, right? Yeah, that's why we provide all parts of digital access. It's not enough to just hand smoke computer and say good luck. You know, and that was kind of that was a little bit excuses or the reasoning we heard before because it was like, go to your local library. Go to your Starbucks go to the school computer lab. Well, those haven't been opened in what 14 months. So you and you need that you can't expect a third grader to hop on a city bus to their local library. There's just not a way to provide Equal access as far as digital access, so get an internet and the computer and the training and the tech support, you know, give everybody they need so that it doesn't become book wait. So it's not being going on eBay or to the pawn shop what's really support people through these devices.

Alex McBratney (Host)  05:16

Absolutely. And what's really interesting, I can't believe one in five, you know, people don't have access, and then you think about that digital divide, that you're talking about earlier, and how hard it is. And, you know, in the inner city in these low-income families that might have three or four kids, and there might be one to go between the three or four of them. And COVID, I think shined the biggest light on this issue this last year, year and a half coming up almost on just on how disparate it is and how challenging it is. When you add on the internet access to that, how are you guys solving for the internet piece? We know you do, you know, e waste recycling, refurbish and get them out there. But how are you partnering with different ISP peas out there to get the access to the internet for these families?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  06:03

That's exactly what we're doing is partnering with ISP is that really know the need the most will partner I think we've got relationships with frontier Verizon, we're talking to sprint speaking with AT&T, along with other folks just in the in ISP, you know, within the telecom world, we actually just announced a partnership with Broadvoice yesterday on Earth Day, which was pretty exciting. So it's really about working with the individual users or the groups and then to understanding their needs better. So if you have somebody in Whittier, for example, just fill, you know, let us know that they're looking for internet, not every internet is made equal. So they might have different needs, depending on you know, how many people are in that household? How high speed do they need? And we'll actually walk them through that process and determine, you know, where do you live? What needs Do you have will call on the phone with them or actually communicate via text as well, to talk to that provider and make sure they're not being upsold. Make sure they know exactly what they're getting into. Because if if you call right now, they're going to sell you a house phone, right, they're gonna sell you a house phone, they're gonna sell you a cable package, they're gonna send you internet. And if you're already low income, you just need that internet connection. You just want your kids to do homework, you just want to apply for jobs or build a resume or go back to school, or even just communicate during COVID, you know, as we are right now, virtually so the internet was absolutely vital as soon as it was not. First we do devices that then we'll worry about internet later, it was one of the first things that he might he jumped on, you got to have both.

Alex McBratney (Host)  07:30

Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that we found too, is like when we first met I, you know, you guys were talking with some of the cable companies and really getting that piece out there. What wasn't wanted? As far as the partnerships go with the ISP, how does it look, as far as our government subsidies that get put in play is, you know, how, what kind of discounts are they looking at?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  07:52

Yeah, we usually try to work internally, because it's good for providers as well. I mean, there's, there's social and environmental well, and particularly social benefit in providing these low cost services to folks to hop onto their help on to their, their, to their providers, right. So they have their own benefits through them as individuals. But really, I think that a lot of the time, it's about working through how do I phrase this route? Yeah, I think they have their own skin in the game of making sure that people are getting access. So I've been working through them and actually doing that. There's also like through the providers themselves, there's also our subsidies through federal, state, local governments, there's actually some funding through the cares act and America, marry recoveries act, Biden's one that went through a couple of weeks ago, I can't remember exactly the name, but there is funding, especially around digital access, right now, everyone's really understanding that, you know, when they've had their kids at home for 12 months, and you know, Timmy, screaming in the backyard with an iPad that does have the internet connection, they do have their computer, you can only imagine what it would be like to not have that, especially when it comes to education. And, and to your point, Alex, the people that don't have that are the people that are like, you know, lower income minorities, they're already on the wrong side of equality and a lot of ways. And the lack of a digital access is just a big part a big contributor to that. And if you can open up, you know, the largest information source in the world, which is the internet, which star through computers, there's a lot more opportunity for people that way.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  09:25

Yeah. I know, I've heard the stories, even just in my own life, you know, it's like, you've got a neighbor, you've got friends who you go COVID hits, and they're like, everybody's already got an iPad, right. And let's find a couple Chromebooks and it's like, no big deal for one family. And then we've gotten a neighbor who's a single mom, and you know, it's just a struggle to be able to find enough device even did at the beginning just to be able to get the device and then to be able to afford the device is another topic. So there is a huge divide there. And I'm glad that you guys are doing something proactively to shrink that gap.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  10:07

You'd be surprised or maybe not how many people share a single device between multiple households and through, you know, entire complexes. There's kids that do exclusively homework on one neighbor's smartphone. It's been amazing the people that we've met over the years and really thinking back to where how I found humanity was through volunteering. I went out to a distribution event and they're getting 100 computers away in Huntington Park, I believe at an elementary school on a Saturday morning. And there was 100 families there 100 computers to give away. So it can be a conveyor belt of conveyor belt, but an assembly line system, you'd go down, you get your monitor your, your, your mouse, I was the keyboard guy. So I got to get the keyboards out to the kids. And this mom comes through, she got a kid in one arm, tower in the other, barely hanging on to the monitor. And she's got this little eight year old girl with her. And I'll never forget this for the rest of my life. But I go down, I'm like, Hey, honey, here you go. And I hand her the keyboard. And she grabs it like a teddy bear. And she holds it close. And she starts to kind of cry. And it's not a cry, cry. It's a happy cry. And you don't see that out a little kids like that. And she started crying. And I knew what that meant for her in that moment. And I started crying, because I could see you know, and I didn't care it was this for talking to your friends doing your homework watching cartoons. I'm not here to judge or nor do I care. But the fact that I'm sitting here with my smartphone in my pocket, my smartwatch on my wrist, everything that I need at home, my laptop, my tablet, and just seeing how much it means for this kid to just get most basic access is what she saw it as it was, you know, I became a volunteer that day and I quit my job not therefore after and that was about six years ago.

Alex McBratney (Host)  11:49

That's amazing. Let's I want to learn a little bit more, or at least tell the audience about how, how are you getting the computers? Where are they coming from what partnerships you have with certain companies or organizations to drive in the volume that you need to support the community?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  12:04

Yeah, great question. So what's great about e waste is that every company manufactures it. Every company has to get older, you know, has to get the newer stuff in. So you know, my first donor was USC, we really started working with one school USC and before we knew it, we hadn't Yeah, fight on go Trojans. We got 27 other schools and there you go. Yeah. Um, well, from there you see it you UCLA found out and we started talking to UCLA and then we start talking to UCLA health, and then cedar Sinai, and then Pepperdine, and then Red Bull, and then Live Nation and then Mattel and then Zillow, you know, it's really just letting people know that there's, you can get the same solution you're getting before as far as E waste, we can come in, in a very competitive if not free price, because there's a lot of value in what you're giving us. Just give us these devices, we're gonna give you everything you need. As far as from an asset management, decommissioning itat service standpoint, we'll bring it in, we're going to donate it out and give it a second life on your behalf. It's a tax write off for you. And you get to kind of share that warm and fuzzy impact. You know, with us, we're just the middleman of helping those people out. But if you give us 100 devices, 100 laptops, let's call it, we want to give everything we can have Second Life and get it back out there. And that's something that you and your company can be very proud of.

Alex McBratney (Host)  13:24

And from what I understand, like when things come in, like a phone server, or, you know, routers and whatnot, there's certain things that a family is not going to know what to do with the phone server, or you know, a Cisco router, eight, you know, a TA or something like that. What do you do with that? That equipment that comes in? And how does that look as far as like, selling it, refurbishing it has you guys do with that?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  13:46

Yeah, so the devices, we take in, we say everything with a plug outside of appliances, so we don't want that old break room microwave, nobody wants that break, room, microwave? Nobody does. We'll take anything else. But everything that comes in, you know, we do get the consumer grade stuff, the desktops and laptops, a lot of the time it is in one door wipe, refurbish it and out the other, right. But we do get that the phone systems access points, servers, switches, you know, I can't take a switch and hand that to a veteran and like that's going to help him or her right, it's not. But what we'll do is we'll still bring it in, we'll still provide the same service, the tax deduction, the corporate grade data wiping that they're used to. And then we're still gonna give a second life. So we'll resell those items to promote reuse, which is a revenue stream for us. That essentially allows us to a not charge our customers typically not at all and I would say currently, over 90% of our donors don't pay a dime. And they're getting corporate grade wiping itemized tax deductible receipts, even free pickup or logistics anywhere in the country, which is pretty great. But they're able to get those benefits and then it's really about just giving those things, get them back out there.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  14:54

That's incredible. Yeah. Talk about the waste. You mentioned a number at the beginning 150,000 computers per day.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  15:08

So it's the largest growing waste stream on the planet. You know we hear a lot about plastic bags and straws and all that. And it's very true very real problems but it's a waste is the largest growing waste stream I mean you mad, you know what we all go through and pretty much everybody that's watching this video right now has an old cell phone or laptop in a drawer somewhere and there's not sure what to do with it, right. So we're trying to kind of show that we can get these things back out there, we can give them a second life, that there's just there's a ton of it out there tons and tons. And what is constantly happened it was, you know, call it 30 years ago, it was a lot of shredding and smelting and grinding these things down because it was a gold, platinum silver in the machines for conductivity on the green board, right. And when really the housing market kind of hash, oh, 809 and commodities dropped, a lot of recyclers went out of business because they were really reliant on more raw material more grinding up to get more of that gold, platinum. And now that there's not as many materials in there, and they're worth less, there's just nothing there, they just went out of business, you know, so that kind of turned into something where, and then I would say at the same time the environmental aspect came around, it's like, well, we're just grinding this stuff up, pulling a little bit of gold, silver here, local like here domestically, and then it's being dumped in South Asia, Southeast Asia or Africa. And if you want to YouTube, it, it's pretty, pretty grim. You know, as far as what they do, as far as trumping trucks was in truck loads into communities, where they'll pick through themselves to see what they what else they can salvage, they pour our hydrofluoric acid on top to let the materials kind of to actually illuminate. And then that hydrofluoric acid goes right into the ground right into the water supply and poisons communities. And you can imagine what it be like crawling over a pile of sharp computers and metal and things like that. So it's just, it's awful, you know, and you don't need to be destroying these things when they should, and they could go on and be used again

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  17:02

Right. So everything except for the office microwave and if it's a router, we're not handing that out to a veteran, we're going to take that, wipe that once again, sell it off on the secondary market, and you guys retain those dollars and are able to make a bigger impact even from that Cisco, a TA or router, whatever it is.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  17:27

Exactly. And that's what's great is we have a really a circular economy built into our nonprofit, which is what not a lot of nonprofits can say maybe a goodwill would be a good example, actually. So we can actually we can create our own money. A lot of nonprofits out there, they're looking for foundations and looking for corporate giving individual giving, they're looking for checks, and we love that as well. But it's not our only way we can actually stretch that money a lot farther because we have a built in service within our organization that allows us to make our own buck. So we have revenue that helps us fund expansion like we did into Detroit. Less than a year ago now. We're able to go out there really plant our roots. And we did a establish a facility in the focus hope location of Detroit, and with some partners like GM and Quicken Loans actually go out there and now we're engaging their business community actually was just launched this week, called empowering digital to Detroit. And what we're trying to do is create a circular economy and create a green initiative that again takes in more business e waste wipes it refurbishes it gets it back out to the community, and just and we're able to make money and sustain ourselves that way. So we're not just waiting on handouts, we can be sustainable on our own.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  18:36

I love that. Yeah. And so tell us a little I know, Detroit's only a year old. Um, you kind of got this two part that we've discussed so far, hey, let's lower the impact to the environment. Let's take these goods and give them off to people that need them and can shrink that digital divide. Tell us what you're doing out in Detroit? Because I think that's like, even bigger than kind of that those two aspects right there. Or maybe it's just kind of that next level up? Could you tell us a little bit more about that?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  19:10

Yeah, so Detroit, it's actually the least digitally connected city over 50,000 people as of last year. And actually, it's my hometown, I was born there. Go redwings. So it was really special to me to actually be able to work there. And now every day and now we have, I think up to about 30 employees there and a fully functioning, you know, facility there where we're sending trucks out every single day, to go pick up your waste from partners. And we're working really closely with the city right now in the mayor's office, really, because they saw the value in what we were doing in Southern California. You know, we have that circular economy and that own revenue generation built in to where we weren't so dependent on funders to keep our lights on. We could really just, hey, give us give us that foundation and will grow and will sustain on our own. So Detroit's been a lot of fun. It's really going to be mark my words an example for the rest of the country of how sustainable digital inclusion, and environmental can really come together in a city like that, and that is our goal is, you know, we, we work every, we have the ability to work at any city to country, you know, so if it's three pallets of stuff on a dock in Miami, or if it's a server room uninstalling in Seattle, we can get boots on the ground, we get shipping labels, we do freight, whatever that is, we're shipping it to either Los Angeles or Detroit, but it's been great there to really work on helping provide digital access to the people educate a lot and really work around environmental standards, help with those internet connections, and get the businesses you know, engaged in that. It's everyone's neighbors, it's everyone's friends from everyone's church, it's from, it's our own community, it's and we are that singular community, you know, within that. So it is great to really just again, I feel like we're just middlemen that have the great opportunity to just be able to connect, hey, here's this surplus of us at a business, here's a community that don't have that yet, let's turn one into the other. And though they'll help each other out, because that community, you know, even looking at like USC, for example, if I could take a USC computer and give it to a 10 year old today, that ends up getting a scholarship. I mean, that's, that's my life's work. I mean, I'd hang it up, right, I'd hang up my boots right there, I'd be so happy to see something like that happen. And that's the kind of impact that we're making. So those are the people that we're helping, and I imagine that we'll start to see some of that come around. We've already heard some great stories of things like that happening. So it's, it's been fantastic.

Alex McBratney (Host)  21:34

I love the generational aspect of it, right. Where you can you look at that 10 year old and you can get them a computer. And all of a sudden it gives them the what they need to stay to keep up or to push ahead, to be able to succeed in life and to you know, be have the equal opportunity as far as digital digitally is concerned. What always can what always blew my mind, I guess is this is a complete no brainer in my book, right? Like if I'm getting rid of my couple laptops or whatever it is, send them to Human-I-T. What do you see? Are there any like objections you get from businesses that you're trying to get their e waste from to where they say, No, we're good. We're just gonna keep using our recycling company or like, like, what are the reasons that someone would even give to like, not be able to not work with you guys? I'm just not the right question, right?

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  22:25

There's no good answer.

Alex McBratney (Host)  22:27

Like, and sales, we get objections, right. Somebody, but this is like, it's good for the environment, it's good for the community. Who would keep doing it, too. 

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  22:36

It doesn't cost you anything, right?

Alex McBratney (Host)  22:38

Doesn't cost you anything. I mean, it's like a win, triple wins, trifecta. 

Brandon Smith (Guest)  22:42

It is. Yeah. So I mean, there really aren't a lot about objections, I think that people need to know that we are I think the when people look at a nonprofit, you know, they kind of have this conception, that you're a humble nonprofit, I'm going to show up in my camera and try to load 1000 computers in the back of it. I'm not going to happen, you know, but we walk the walk as far as, you know, standing toe and toe with some of the best AI type providers in the country. So our data destruction methods. I mean, we do it for Cedars Sinai Hospital, UCLA health, you know, some of the biggest banks, law offices and hospitals in the world that have vetted us come in, walked out, you know, seen and gotten the documentation walked our warehouse, and really can trust on us on the data security standpoint. Yeah, that's always the first one, right is really data security. But the chain of custody, everything else that we do that level of reporting, I mean, the fact that we give, make model serial item type quantity for free for everything that we can reuse again, and we give them back and all they got to do is put that little dollar amount for the write off. And to the point, yeah, most of it's, it's free for I'd say over 95% of our clients, you know, it's we do have charges for when it's, Hey, I got a calculator in Death Valley, you know, I still need your services. But, you know, you guys are probably gonna lose some money on gas on this one, you know, we don't want to be able to say no, we want people to still have an option as far as making a good environmental and social decision. So that's why we'll kind of include those every once in a while. But no, not a lot of objections. It's just getting in front of the right people and awareness. So things like this, I'm just letting people know that recycling is good for bottles and cans, but what's repurpose, let's get these things back out there. And there's a big group of people, people you probably know and just you don't know that how, how, how on the wrong side of the digital divide, they are.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  24:29

So who are the right people like, you know, so you already mentioned USC and UCLA, but pick another big school East Coast school that you're not in yet. Who would you target in a university or in a fortune like 500 company?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  24:46

Yeah, typically, you know, what's, again, with how we target there's not a lot of education is actually really good, because there's just a lot of devices. You think about it, the more typically the more employee count, the higher the head Count the more devices those people have. And then a or then I guess be would be, the better funded they are, the more the more refreshes they do, the more often they have new stuff, meaning the more often they have old stuff. So for us, it's we're really biased to what, what, like who they work or what they do. But the more employee count, they have the industry a little bit like we work with a couple of animation companies out here in Southern California. So that helps, too, because you can't quite make the latest greatest on a five year old computer, you know, but those older computers might work for somebody else.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  25:34

Yeah, surfing the internet. Whether or not I can make a Pixar movie on my five year old computer is a different question of whether or not I can hop on Zoom and be able to do my homework. Those are well, different capabilities.

Alex McBratney (Host)  25:47

There's going to be some kid in South LA with the computer with an Nvidia card just like crushing the gaming scene.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  25:53

Yeah. So when you talk to so who are like the key stakeholders on this decision, is this decision made in a silo within it? Is it the CIO CTO who's like, hey, all of this stuff that comes back out the backside, I make the decisions on we bought where we buy from? And then I also make the same decision on who we pass this off to? Is it a marketing play? I mean, I can see a lot of different people, obviously, you get the right CEO involved, they would be game to, to push this over. But who is it within the organization that really you guys want to talk to?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  26:34

Yeah, it's funny that you mentioned that because it really can go through anyone at an organization. So I mean, you look at it, typically the decision makers, the people they work with that actually manage the assets, a lot of it, maybe not the CIO CTO, but maybe level two down director VP level, those are the folks typically that you know, know what's happening know what's happening on the refreshes what, you know, sometimes procurement gets involved a little bit, but it are usually the people that we kind of end up at, but we could actually go through a corporate social responsibility marketing, because they see like, Hey, we want to green initiative this year. And we had, I think, literally, just yesterday, we announced initiatives with Broadvoice city of Detroit, Pelican products, Univision, and one more, that's escaping me, but that was a pretty busy Earth Day for us, you know, with all these alliances, but Pelican was a great one where it went through their CIO, Lance, great guy, you know, yeah. Great, dude, hey, Lance, if you're watching.

Alex McBratney (Host)  27:35

That really just worship... 

Brandon Smith (Guest)  27:36

we did it and we did tech drives, too. So that's another thing that we'll do too, because this is something that actually the employees and the employer can kind of come together on. So if you work somewhere, you just hate bringing your unwanted technology, whether it's around now, whether it's around the holidays, America recycles days in November, bringing that old smartphone, that old laptop, whatever, you're gonna get that corporate grade wiping it's a write off for you warm and fuzzy feeling of helping people on the planet, right. But that's something that a lot of employers in, please get to celebrate together. And Pelican did that. We did a an international initiative with them, actually. So we collected their technology, if you know from all over, brought it in, I think we ended up actually with over 10 was it 10 pallets I believe, or is over 10,000 pounds of electronic waste from them majority Believe it or not from employees. And this is during COVID. Two, they were literally putting in their cars driving in their local office and dropping it off and helping their equipment get back out there. So yeah, marketing, HR for more of the employee involvement. Accounting loves write offs, why wouldn't they? Right accounting Good one. But one of my favorite stories is actually with Live Nation, Live Nation entertainment, Ticketmaster, house blues, it was his Michael, their CEO. He actually went in and was looking for a computer for one of his kids. So I actually went into the office and saw the IT team kind of in the middle of a refresh and said, You guys have all those computers? And like, Yeah, well, how many other kids are like my kids that need this, especially with, you know, this move to remote learning. And that really sparked he's like, hey, it, I want you guys to find a nonprofit out there that that can do all this for you. That could really help like, I want to start donating our stuff. And we actually cleared out seven floors from their Hollywood office as far as taking in unwanted technology that they no longer needed. We worked on their Beverly Hills Office and Nashville across the country. But it really that was the spark the CEOs eye that really saw. This is our opportunity for our brand to do more. And really, you know, and do it in a way to where it's solving a business problem while also doing good in the community. You know, typically folks have to kind of trade one for another. If you want to help people you're thinking you got to spend it. Or if you don't want to help people. That's the way you're gonna get it for free. I'm just gonna throw in the back of my building. I hope you don't. That kind of thing, but That's where we can actually be very, very competitive. And from a cost standpoint, we are helping people on the planet. And then there's that proactive brand enhancement of working together on that in the first place. And really, again, like celebrating the fact that our employees and our company came together to help all these people to help the planet. You know, it's really a holistic approach within an entire organization of really everybody kind of being able to be a part of that. And it ends up kind of in the middle of that spoke of that wheel. And it's kind of funny, because I think it sometimes are looked at as, as the scapegoat or blamed a little bit or I guess, only when things are perfect. And it is there are things quiet, and are they doing their best job, hey, this is working, that's working, nothing's down. But the minute something goes down, it's you know, everyone's cursing it his name. And I think what's great about the people that I get to work with, it's like, Hey, I can make you look good, I can make you look good and feel good. I'm gonna save your department money, your CEO is going to be stoked marketing is going to shout this from the hilltops. HR is going to engage your employees, your employees are all going to be happy accounting is going to write it off. It really is something for everybody. And it's great to let it you know, wear that Superman's cape, you know, for a little bit and say, Hey, like, Look what I brought around. Look how our organization is looking good for our customers and people want to work with, you know, eco friendly brands, people want to work with brands that do good in the community.

Alex McBratney (Host)  31:23

That's so true. And so in LA, how much square footage is your warehouse now since you've moved from that probably a 2000 square foot building when we first met?

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  31:33

Alex, it was 2200 square feet.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  31:39

22 Yeah, there was a restroom on the back. Hey, yeah. Now there's a parking spot there now, um, geez, we're at we just moved to a new facility actually, not too far from commerce, we've kind of hopped around commerce, it was really where we were born and raised in a lot of ways. I think the one that you saw before was about 2000, then we went to 20,000. I think we're pushing 30,000 right now. beautiful facility, you know, we're really filling in, if we have three trucks that go out of there every single day, taking about 3011 pallets each. So obviously, those watermelon or pumpkin bins that you see at the grocery store 33 of those just locally, that doesn't even speak to what we freight and shipping. So we're looking for I would say in this current month, about 400 pallets just to Los Angeles, this, you know, this month, that doesn't account for Detroit, we also get drop offs that are Long Beach location. And we're kind of eyeing the rest of the country eventually to you know, really looking at Detroit and setting them as the flagship of what expansion could look like, we would really like to take this everywhere in the country and kind of be that goodwill of us, that allows for the community to give us the unwanted stuff and get it back to that same community to help provide digital access.

Alex McBratney (Host)  32:50

I love that expansion in and starting in LA is is a great city, Southern California in general, just because it's so dense, and there's so many businesses here. It's a great launching off point to now go to Detroit at some point, I'm sure you're looking at Atlanta or New York, these big cities that have a lot of lot of E waste, right, and every big city has their community of people that need that need the leg up and need that digital divide, you know, shorten that gap, for sure. And I just, I just love that Detroit's on is on the map. And that you guys are just rocking it out there.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  33:25

Yeah, it's it really is something that, you know, you can look at LA and then Detroit's kind of walking the walk as far as like, Can you expand? Can you replicate? And we've, you know, along with the mayor's office, and some great partners, we're doing it. So it is digital inclusion is something that is needed everywhere, you know, so we're able to work within those communities. A lot of them have funding for that nowadays, too. You could imagine what it's like for kids not to have computers. I mean, that's the most obvious one to me. You know, seniors getting computers for the first time, you know, it is multi generational into your point, Alex, like there are, you know, seniors getting access, even just for telehealth, you know, we've literally had see it, like, he was a he was also a veteran, but he was a senior, and he said, you know, you guys saved my life, I was able to talk to my pharmacist and talk to my doctor and do that remotely, and actually get everybody on the same page. And without a computer. I couldn't have done it, you know, and he's he actually brought in, his name is art great guy brought in over 20 other, you know, would be where ended up eventual recipients. So it's kind of one of those, hey, I'm bringing all my friends and family, I'll really shout this from the mountaintops. And that's what we're looking to do, too. So I mean, people want to help us, it's like, hey, if you can't supply a waste, if you don't, you know, and typically people can just find out what your job is doing with it. We're also looking for people that we can help, you know, so we're always looking to work with nonprofits, you know, or directly with, you know, kids on student lunch programs, lowering, you know, certified low income programs for adults and families. So we're able to really work into those groups and especially if your nonprofits I think is great because we can talk to the groups that know though receiving groups best, like veterans group like, I don't know, do you guys want 15 laptops for a loaner program? Do you want 25 desktops in a lab somewhere? Do you want a game? You know, do you want a graphic design center, I mean, whatever that is, whatever helps that community, we're able to work with the people that know them best. So we're happy to just again be in the middle like, hey, we'll take it in. It's my it's, you know, my department business development. Let's work with you to get your e-waste out of landfills out of shredders out of some guy just flipping it for a quick buck on eBay. Let's get it out back to the community. Oh, by the way, you're going to save some money. It's a write off all that good stuff. You know, but then getting it back out to the people that need it.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  35:43

Sign me up. I'm ready. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  35:45

So good. So let's get I love the stories and it just is heartwarming, right? You talked about the little girl that have their her keyboard and in the veteran that's able to say, you know, help them save his life through telehealth, like what are some what are some other big stories or you know, situations where it really stand out that really made an imprint on your on your heart there?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  36:08

Yeah, and I and I joke I mean, I don't even joke I think I say it seriously this point, I don't I'm gonna have a hard time ever leaving anything nonprofit, it's really changed who I am. And I mean that in such a big way because you know, I've, I have a history I've done projects with Nike and Columbia Sportswear and Jones soda and Sony PlayStation and got to travel the country doing it and loved it. But, you know, it was really giving back and realizing that there's so many people that have that don't have anything, you know, and that I take for granted every single day. So I'm sorry, what's your question one more time?

Alex McBratney (Host)  36:42

No, just I love the stories.  Yeah. Yeah, thank you because I have one. I have one. But that's yeah, I started getting into another one. I Don't worry, Brandon. It is Friday, so I'll get it.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  36:56

Alright, appreciate that.

Alex McBratney (Host)  36:58


Brandon Smith (Guest)  36:58

I one of the families I remember meeting too, and it was, you know, pre COVID, I went over to their house and I had a laptop daughter had autism son actually had learning disability or brain damage from a stray bullet. It was definitely in not the best area of La here. And went to their house, I remember and I walk in and the woman just greets me come in, gives me a hug, you know, come right in. Explain that they didn't have water because they couldn't afford it, you know, and they were actually using the neighbor's garden hose for everything from drinking water, to putting in the toilet tank to flush their toilets. Right? She walks me through the house. And you know, I kind of got a lot of light from the ceiling, and there was a hole in the roof, you know, they couldn't afford it. And it was literal cardboard stapled to the roof just to keep enough of the elements out. But this was in her son's room. You know, the disability. And that was that was heartbreaking to me. And she walked me into the living room and, you know, instructs me to sit on the floor. And okay, you know, and she lived across the street from elementary school. Council. Yeah. So that's for sure. And to find out, it's because of all the stray bullets that go through her neighborhood. And I look in the wall. And sure enough, there's quite at least 20 bullet holes. And this is across the street from elementary school, right. So you can imagine what you couldn't, you could imagine what some of the other streets look like. But she's like, yeah, we can't we sit on the floor here. Because if you start here and pop and you hit the floor quick, and you're quicker to the floor, and you're closer to the floor, and you're less likely to get hit while you're there. So they don't have a dining room table, there's no couch, you know, but I was able to give her daughter a computer and her daughter was, you know, again, with a learning disability, in I think Junior High popping on the city bus at three o'clock, going out and going An hour to the library, waiting in line for a computer. And then there's a little ticker in your computer that says that you only have so much time to do your homework. She'd skipped dinner, hop on the bus in the dark and come home. And that was here Monday through Friday. And it's a couple $100 device that just changed that whole you know, that's one kid stops using it, it goes the other kid. And then mom can hop on there and go apply, build a resume, apply for a job dad gonna hop on there and go do online education. You can imagine even just something as simple as YouTube, just the wealth of information behind that. But it's that's just one story from one family I met and there's so many more out there, you know, the that need that digital access. And I mean, that's who we're out there fighting for, you know, and I again, that's why it'd be so hard for me to break and do anything else as long as there are people that you know, need this stuff, especially when there's companies that are calling me, hey, I've got 1000 laptops, you guys take those. You don't know what to do with it. It's an idea. It looks like an episode of hoarders where it's just stuck to the ceiling because they don't know what to do with it.

Alex McBratney (Host)  39:44


Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  39:45

And every company has it. They've got that room that nobody talks about. It's just full of stuff that needs to get pulled out. 

Brandon Smith (Guest)  39:53

And it's got all their monitors on there.  Yeah. They just don't know what to do with it. 

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  39:59

So yeah, I really did get like flashes of three people that we need to get you in touch, in touch with, like, immediately. emails will be coming out after this podcast. Ah, so what is what is that process look like? I mean, like I'm in, I'm ready to go, obviously, you've spoken at our events before we're, we're in deep with Human-I-T. Um, you know, for anybody watching what is their next step? How can they get involved? Let's say we're, you know, the CIO at a company is watching this, what does he do after this podcast here today?

Brandon Smith (Guest)  40:40

Yeah, best thing, hop on the website Check that out. They can also get in touch with me, I'll kind of leave my info to and I'm typing me, Alex, please tag me. You know, but the process is really easy. You know, it's just let us know, you know, we'll answer any questions that you have, as far as data security, we really want to make sure that you feel comfortable with you know, this is your data, this is your employee files, social security numbers, this is your client information. Like that's the biggest thing for us is number one, data security. We can't help anybody if we're not wiping your drives, and we're not managing chain of custody, and things like that, that's got to come first, you know, so we can't do what we do unless we're really satisfying business needs first. But as far as whether it's a first time donor, or repeat donor hop on our website, there's a spot where you can say, Hey, I'm just looking for information, and we'll get in touch with you, we've got our number, you can call us your convenience. Or if you're ready to go, there's actually a form on there that just says, you know, what's your name? What do you got? Where's it coming from? How can I help you out? And essentially, what they'll do is actually submit just more of the scope of work stuff will respond within one business day. And a lot of the time, it's just making sure we're covering all the bases for what you need. And then we'll determine logistics. Do you need white glove service where you need someone to uninstalled these things? or collect them from several floors? Some several offices, what have you? Do you just need a couple of shipping labels? Because they're in the corner of the room with a box? You know, are they on the dock somewhere, you know, you've got Hey, I've got six pallets in my warehouse, Brandon, can you get it, you know, I'll get it the next day. And again, we'll typically cover all these logistical costs too. So it'll be you know, a great team that'll hop on and again, usually same day, if not within the next business day, and just look to kind of get those items out of your way. I've met quite a few IT professionals that literally step over towers and monitors and, and devices on the way their desk every morning. And it's like, well, just Hey, we'll take it off your hands, you know, we'll give it a second life, the sooner we can get it out of your office and out there, the more practical application, it has to be used by more people and for longer. And that's the whole point.

Alex McBratney (Host)  42:42

Absolutely amazing. I love it. And we love singing your praises, we love you. And it has been in our back pocket for our clients for as long as we've known you guys and trying to get the word out. And we've run into each other at different events. And it's absolutely cool. And just the fact that you're doing such good for the environment, but just the human piece, right, the human of the it. And being able to help people in need is absolutely amazing. And you guys are ramping it up, you're expanding nationwide, and it's only going to get better from here. So anything that we can do to help you know, to come to us, but we want to use this podcast to be able to hopefully broadcast that out and get people to learn about you guys. There's a lot of it executives out there. And just executives in general people in general that don't know that you're out there, so absolutely going to get the word out. But thanks again for jumping on the podcast and being able to share some of those stories and really, you know, kind of where you guys are at.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  43:41

Now I appreciate it. I mean, this, this is a lot of fun. I think the biggest thing that that we always say is like, well, how can I help? I want to volunteer, I want to help I don't have tech, how can I you know, just it's awareness. It's just let people know that there's options out there and, you know, combat if you're not in it, if you're in it, ask find out where your stuff goes. And it's just as simple as just, hey, where does our UAS go? What do we do with this stuff? Again, give us the opportunity to kind of lay out our offering, compare it with what you got. And you know, I think most people like you said earlier, it's it's a win win situation, it's going to help your brand look good. It's gonna help your company look good, it's gonna give you it's gonna make you look good and feel good. It's gonna give you solution you need anyhow, you know, and we're just grateful to kind of be a part of that. So yeah, grateful for the opportunity to talk to you guys today and share what we do and, and, you know, the more tech we take in eventually the more people we can help and that's the name of the game. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  44:34

100%. Dustin, I love you, buddy.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  44:38

Yeah, my pleasure, Brandon. Great to see you again. Looking forward to our next Tuesday dinner.

Alex McBratney (Host)  44:43

In the park, in the park.

Dustin Ridel (Co-Host)  44:48

We're back at... 

Alex McBratney (Host)  44:49

Brass circle. Alright boys.

Brandon Smith (Guest)  44:52

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks guys. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  44:54

Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at, LinkedIn, or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on Another Cloud Podcast.