The Trash Porters tops Swim with the Sharks contest
WILMINGTON – Chris Boozer never thought the trash business would become his calling in life, but after winning the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center’s 11th annual Swim with the Sharks pitch competition, he thinks he’s on to something.
The Wilmington-based startup was founded earlier this year after Boozer saw a need firsthand.
Carrying his garbage out to the dumpster at his apartment building, he would often be stopped by older residents who would see if he could help them take theirs out too. He also watched as other less-mobile residents put their trash in their vehicles to drive it to the nearest dumpster, where it would often be overflowing with garbage.
To meet that need, Boozer created The Trash Porters, a waste management valet company that comes direct to doorsteps once every weekday to collect trash and twice a week to collect recycling, properly disposing of it off-site. He has already signed contracts with several apartment communities to give residents another valuable amenity while reducing ugly and unhygienic piles of trash around dumpsters.
“We take away those legal liabilities away from the property management companies,” he told Delaware Business Times, adding that includes junk removal and lawn debris service as needed too.
The Trash Porters was one of five companies competing in this year’s Swim with the Sharks’ competition, along with Droneversity, a Wilmington startup that teaches drone operations; the artisanal café Sleeping Bird Coffee; Restore MD, a member-supported direct primary care practice; and Needle Wielders, a quilting educational space and store.
Boozer came out on top of the Sept. 27 event, closing the EEC’s annual Entrepreneurial Summit held this year at Penn Cinema in Wilmington, and earning a $10,000 cash prize, a yearlong membership into the EEC’s incubator program and county chamber, and $1,400 in free marketing.
Droneversity finished as the runner-up, earning a $1,500 cash prize, while Restore MD was selected as the people’s choice winner, earning $1,000.
Boozer said being involved in the pitch competition was a “life-changing experience” that gave him the confidence that his venture was worth pursuing.
“The day of [the pitch] I was super nervous, but I had some great conversations with people who really helped me get on stage and just be myself. They reminded me that I talk trash for a living,” he said with a laugh.
After his successful appearance at Swim with the Sharks, Boozer has already been able to turn the attention into new business, signing three new contracts in the last week. He’s also looking to invest the cash prize into a new dump truck and box truck to help the company grow.
Right now, Boozer is the only full-time employee for The Trash Porters, which also has four part-time workers, but the Launcher program participant hopes to be able to start hiring more full-time employees soon. He intends to lend a helping hand to others in his community who need an opportunity.
“This thing is really bigger than just collecting trash and recycling, because people like me felt like we’ve been written off and thrown out like trash. This has really given me a new opportunity,” he said. “I know I’m here to be an example of what you can do when they say you can’t do it.”