Teddy Douglass found entrepreneurial inspiration in rubbish.
"I would kind of let it pile up on my balcony," he said.
The communal Dumpster at his Grandview Heights apartment complex was a good 300 yards away, and there were times -- particularly during bad weather -- when that journey was just too much of a hassle.
How nice it would be, the 24-year-old mused two years ago when he was majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of Cincinnati, if someone would just come and get this garbage.
Today, Douglass is president of TrashCab, a business with offices on Checkrein Avenue in the Northland area that does precisely that: offers door-to-door pickup of apartment-dwellers' trash.
More importantly -- and the factor that helped bring in business partner Brennan Kelley, the company's vice president and only other employee -- TrashCab offers recycling for those left out of Columbus' new curbside recycling program, which is restricted to single-family homes and buildings with four or fewer units.
"Because of the single-family home program that's going on throughout the city of Columbus, a lot of the apartment owners and residents are feeling left out of this," Kelley said last week. "We want to kind of fill that gap."
For a fee of $24 a month or $265 for an entire year, TrashCab will collect and recycle materials eligible for that treatment and deliver other household waste to the community Dumpster. The service is offered once a week.
Additional and special pickups are available with advance notice, according to the company's website.
Douglass said he first had the idea for what became TrashCab two years ago. He found friends who felt similarly about hauling their own trash to garbage containers, and eventually began developing a business plan after mutual acquaintances led him to Kelley, 29, who was doing legal and contract work at the time for a construction company.
"I thought it was a good idea," Kelley said. "I thought the name was catchy, so we just started working on a business plan to see if it was feasible."
"It's offered a lot down South," Douglass said. "I really didn't find anything like this in Columbus at the time."
After six to eight months of refining the plan, the duo formally launched the company a little over a year ago.
"We took our lumps and bruises early on, but we feel we have a steady base beneath us now," Douglass said.
"It's gone well," Kelley said. "We took our time making sure we had everything lined up and in the right order before we got out and started soliciting business."
In seeking customers, TrashCab's executives target individual apartment-dwellers as well as property managers who might sign on for the service at an entire complex.
"We figured by taking both approaches we could really broaden our base and reach as many people as possible," Kelley said.
TrashCab has customers all over central Ohio -- individual renters for the most part, but with growing acceptance among managers of complexes big and small, Douglass said.
"We feel like we're getting pretty close to flipping that around," he said.
Other than finding office space and buying a pickup truck to make the collections, TrashCab didn't involve a lot of startup costs, Kelley said.
"That's part of the message that we want to put across," he added, "that it doesn't cost that much to provide multifamily recycling."
"Honestly, we started with the idea of not even offering recycling, but we've really embraced it and taken a lot of steps to increasing our recycling," Douglass said.
For more information, visit trashcab.com or call 614-289-8727.