In April 2020, three undergraduate students at Stanford University launched ReMatter, a software tool for scrap recyclers, after gaining their first official customer. Since the soft launch last spring, ReMatter CEO Wyatt Pontius says more small-to-medium-sized scrap recyclers have purchased ReMatter software. He adds that he and his two former classmates—Drake Hougo and Sean O’Bannon—have graduated from Stanford and are working full-time for ReMatter.
Pontius says the software platform was an idea he developed while interning at Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy a few years ago.
“TomKat Center was given a mandate to look into recycling and see if there was room for innovation,” Pontius says. “I started looking at municipal recycling. I quickly realized there are a lot of problems with municipal recycling beyond the scope of anything I could do to make an impact. So, I turned to the scrap recycling side of things and was blown away by the scale of how much material scrap recyclers move, how much impact they can have on making this country by providing essential material to essential businesses.”
After researching the scrap recycling industry and asking several companies about their needs, Pontius says he came up with the idea to develop a software program that would help scrap recyclers manage assets and dispatching. In 2019, he also asked Hougo and O’Bannon to help develop the program.
Pontius says the final ReMatter software program enables recyclers to track assets and dispatching. Recyclers can use the software on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone to enter details about bin placement and to track drivers and job assignments.
He adds that the company is working to deploy a full software suite this year that will offer inventory management and sales modules.
Once one recycler was able to apply ReMatter to his business in April at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Hougo says it gave him and his co-workers the confidence to grow the business after graduation that semester. “What gave us confidence early on was we were able to onboard our first customer completely remote,” he says.
Hougo adds that it’s odd that the majority of ReMatter’s customers have never met anyone from the company in person because of pandemic; however, he is hopeful the company can eventually meet in-person with customers in 2021 if the pandemic is resolved.
“Graduating in a pandemic and taking on the risk of starting a business while so much of the country is in a hard time definitely feels risky,” O’Bannon adds. “We recognize that at any point things can change on a dime. But there’s excitement to working in the scrap recycling industry. There are a lot of good people in the industry. So, despite the risks, we’re excited to be able to offer something to this industry.”