Driven by her passion for environmental science and economics, Lily Shen developed Trash Warrior in 2019 as a solution to the challenges of waste management collection in her hometown of San Francisco. A full-service, technology-enabled waste management platform helps business-to-business (B2B) customers connect with providers who can provide on-demand waste removal and bin rental services.
“I’ve always been very interested in environmental science. I trained as a bioeconomist in college and graduate school,” she says. “The Garbage Warriors are a blend of my passions for environmental science and economics.”
When Shen launched Trash Warrior, the platform was initially focused on connecting businesses and individual consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area. But Shen, he says, realized that a B2B focus suited the platform better.
Today, Trash Warrior is in use in nearly 300 cities across the United States, with thousands of service providers participating in the network. According to Shen, the platform has been used for about 60,000 orders to date.
In October, Trash Warrior secured $8 million in a pre-A investment round led by San Francisco-based AltaIR Capital to help improve the platform’s technology, hire, increase sales and boost marketing efforts. Amino Capital, Operator Partners, Vermillion Ventures and Hyphen Capital also participated in this funding round, along with previous Trash Warrior investors including Primavera Capital, Sand Hill Angels, Lombard Street Ventures and 500 Startups.
AltaIR Capital CEO and General Partner Igor Ryabenkiy said: “Garbage Warrior invented an innovative approach to solving a market problem and ensured the company’s rapid growth.”
Trash Warrior matches business customers with providers that fit their needs based on customer preferences, location, provider details, and ranking on the platform. We also consider factors such as availability, sustainability requirements, and pricing when pairing customers with providers.
Focused on B2B, Shen said most of the customers using the platform are companies that run warehouses that need to dispose of various materials. Clients include companies such as Amazon, Instacart, Imperfect Foods, Weee!, Tuft & Needle, Holiday Inn, Hyatt and Hilton.
On the other hand, the service providers featured in Trash Warrior are primarily small regional carriers and small business owners. Similar to Uber, providers get paid upon completion of work orders. Customers can rate providers after completing their services, and the platform ranks providers from bronze to platinum based on those ratings.
Shen said haulers and small businesses offering these services should be trainable and willing to meet the standards required by Trash Warrior and its customers. She says that if customers have specific expectations about how and where to dispose of materials, providers should be willing to follow those instructions.
“Some customers are very focused on finding environmental solutions. To implement those preferences, we need a provider network that can be trained in that direction,” says Shen.
Over the past three years, Trash Warrior has organically grown its network of customers and providers, says Shen. She adds that once the platform secures four to six trusted providers in a city, its network of customers and providers tends to grow by word of mouth.
Shen says being a service provider for Trash Warrior has helped extend the reach of some small business owners. According to her, a small family-owned business in the San Francisco area nearly tripled its income by becoming her provider of active Trash Warrior services.
The platform has also helped simplify communication between customers and providers.With Trash Warrior, customers no longer need to make multiple phone calls with specific details of a particular job, Providers no longer have to make multiple phone calls to secure payment for work, Shen said.
where are you going
Shen said the focus is on rolling out the Trash Warrior platform in metropolitan areas across the United States.
Currently, the platform tends to work best in more urban areas as it builds a network of customers and providers. She adds that she manually handles requests from customers who need service at one location, but she says situations like this don’t happen often.
The platform continues to roll out in more cities and regions across the country. According to Shen, the service launched in Oklahoma City in early October.
As more customers and providers use Trash Warrior to connect, the platform is revealing the prices paid for haulage services and how and where materials are being moved, Shen said.
“Trash Warrior knows better than smaller private carriers about the appropriate solutions to waste streams in most of the markets we operate in,” says Shen.
She adds that she hopes the platform will provide useful waste and recycling market data that can be used to improve waste diversion efforts and recycling rates.
“Our main plan is to reach more enterprise B2B customers and deepen our product capabilities with a focus on sustainability and data transparency capabilities,” she says. “With our new funding round, we hope to build and utilize a highly detailed database of waste diversions for each US waste stream and every zip code.”