Tommy McCoy and Abhishek Luthra, are the founders of Haulshare. Tommy and Abhi are young, minority business owners solving a huge problem in the waste management industry and they were recently featured on Yelp NOVA.
HaulShare is an online marketplace that connects those in need of junk removal services to haul professions. Unlike competitors, HaulShare offers same-day service and charges for the items removed, rather than the amount of truck space needed.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual moment to start HaulShare?
Waste management services are actually in my blood. My family has over 60+ years experience in the industry running Champion Services Inc. a residential, commercial, and industrial waste and recycling firm located in Northern Virginia. I’ve held every job possible, from riding on the back of the trucks, driving trash trucks myself to making keystone business decisions.
The idea for HaulShare was born out of a necessity I observed through my experiences working at Champion. Residential and commercial customers have a hard time getting bulk items removed! I saw the need and got to work creating a solution. To initially get the idea off the ground, we partnered with Champion Services Inc. to fulfill their bulk item requests. The day we launched we placed our first order! Since then we’ve been focused on building our technology infrastructure, partnership network and brand to scale. To date our business model has been fully bootstrapped.
How did you validate the idea?
We validated the idea with surveys sent to our customer base and property managers. As we progressed, we completed a lean canvas experiment. A lean canvas experiment is a strategic management template for validating and developing new or existing business models. This model is explained in the book “The Lean Startup.”
Who is your target demographic?
Our two main customer segments are property managers and residential homeowners. Women between the age of 25-65 make up 90% of our total customer base. We operate a double-sided marketplace; our customer base of property managers and residential homeowners and the haul fulfillment professionals. We target hauling companies that have been in business longer than a year and with their own license and insurance.
How did you fund the idea initially?
Traditionally, there is a large financial barrier to enter into the waste management industry. However, because we were able to leverage cloud based technologies and strategic partnerships, we started and funded HaulShare with less than $1000.
Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team?
My co-founder, Abhishek Luthra, and I have known each other for 15 years. Even though we grew up in the same area of Northern Virginia and regularly saw each other at the gym, we weren’t considered close friends until after I graduated from college. We reconnected at homecoming at James Madison University in 2017.
I knew Abhishek would make a good partner because I saw a great deal of myself in him. Our values, work ethic and competitive nature were practically identical. Abhishek offered technical skills that have been vital to our success.
Together we built a team of four trusted individuals who bring unique talents and a burning desire to see the company succeed.
What motivated you to start your own business?
The motivation to start my business was something my parents planted in my mind at a young age. They are obviously very supportive. I also want to positively impact my community and I think the HaulShare concept which solves a common problem and supports small businesses is my way of doing that. When people ask me about my entrepreneurial spirit, I think of it as a burning desire. A burning desire to win. When the desire sets in, it’s impossible to ignore. I find that feeling to be motivating and compelling.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
When things go wrong, I remember seeing my parent’s resilience. I have seen them stare in the face of failure and overcome it firsthand. Remembering this helps me stay level-headed and resourceful, always eager to find the right solution.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
My advice to someone just starting out is: if you like what you’ve built, you’ve waited too long. In other words, don’t wait for the idea to be perfect because you may never start!
What has driven the most sales?
We have driven the most sales by creating relationships with our customer base. We have focused on the biggest need today, which is our B2B relationships. We are building out our model and our reputation so we can scale through digital marketing efforts.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
Strategic partnerships with larger property management firms and brand awareness.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Unlike most junk removal services we focus primarily on b2b customers or property management organizations. Everything we do is with our customer in mind. Our customer service separates us from our competitors.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
AWS, Stripe, and Gsuite Being a technology platform, we use the latest technologies and development practices to ensure our application is highly secure, scalable and easy to use. Using AWS and Stripe allows us to meet all three goals. Gsuite allows us to both collaborate internally and communicate externally with our customers to provide the best customer experience possible.
What are your favourite books? What are your favourite podcasts?
- My favorite book is “Leaders Eat Last - by Simon Sinek, and “Social” - By Matthew Lieberman. Our team is currently reading “Made in America” by Sam Walton as the Book of the Month. We read one book a month to challenge ourselves to continue learning as a team. It's important to our team to expose ourselves to as much business and industry related information as possible. We will only go as far as the effort we put in.
- A Bit of Optimism and Masters in Business
What are the next products you’re working on? Are there any releases you can tell us about?
Our next project is to fully automate the remaining administrative elements of our web application.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I see HaulShare being well capitalized and operating nationwide. We plan to acquire businesses in our industry and invest in technology to reduce waste.
Would you ever sell?
Yes, our goal is to eventually sell.