From a Pile of Garbage to a $150 Million Empire

Inspiration for million dollar start-ups may come in any form, but a common thread shared by nearly every successful entrepreneur in existence today reverts back to the simple notion of persistence. And Brian Scudamore’s rise to the top of that coveted entrepreneurial mountain of success proves no different.

As with all start-up ventures, Brian’s vision sprung from inspiration. And his came like a bolt of lightning while idling in a McDonald’s drive-thru, waiting patiently for his lunch. There, in front of him, was a pickup truck with “Marx Hauling” written on the side.

“There’s my ticket,” Brian said.

Brian was dangerously close to finishing one credit shy of graduating high school when he began thinking about his future, how he would pay for college, and how he would support himself, with or without a diploma or degree. But when he saw that junk trunk sitting in front of him, he knew the answer.

Brian went out and spent $700 on an old beater pickup truck and started scouring neighborhoods and businesses in search of garbage. Yes, you read that right. Garbage.

In an initial effort to make some extra cash for school, Brian quickly found himself having to cut class to meet the demand of his new start-up – hauling junk away for a fee. He went door-to-door with no advertising or marketing. Dubbing his business The Rubbish Boys, he found himself slowly amassing a small fortune by hauling people’s junk away.

As the success of his business grew legs, he realized he needed a gimmicky name that would be easily recognizable and hard to forget. Using a play on the popular slogan “Got Milk?”, Brian landed on “1-800-GOT-JUNK?”. And he simply had to have that phone number.

Brian called the number and reached an air traffic control office in Idaho. Seeing that the number was clearly taken, he called back over 60 times more, begging for the rights to the number. Staying ever persistent by remaining true to his vision, he jumped the gun and had the logo with the phone number placed on all of his trucks, knowing he’d eventually get what he wanted. The Idaho office ended up releasing the number to him for free… just so he’d go away.

Eight years later, Brian’s $700 start-up, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, raked in its first million. The company has since grown to a $150 million empire in its 27 years of existence, employing more than 3,000 customers in multiple countries. But as persistence would have it, Brian’s not stopping there. He’s shooting for a billion. And there’s nothing to suggest he won’t get there.

“With this company, I made the future happen in my mind. Once I became very centered in that picture, it was clear we would get there,” he says. “We believe 100 percent that we will get to a billion [in total sales]. Any entrepreneur, or any leader, for that matter—in religion, in athletics— needs a clear vision.”


How Brian Scudamore built a $150M empire with $700 and a pickup truck – with Brian Scudamore