2015: The Year Bootstrap Learned to Tie Its Boots

By Igor Kharitonenkov, Co-Founder

It wasn’t long ago when Bootstrap Compost, serving just a couple hundred clients around town, was operating out of our backyards (Andy’s and my own), much to the chagrin of our neighbors. We did it all – collection, cleaning and delivery. At just 24 years young, I quickly learned the art of business negotiation; pizzas were exchanged and annoyances were quelled. When the going gets tough, buy them off with pie, I say.

2011 - Max cleaning buckets in the backyard.
2011 – Max cleaning buckets in the backyard.

Still, our little operation was bothering more than just our immediate abutters. With a garden hose running 100 feet from my third-story apartment down to the backyard cleaning station, the message was clear: “Sorry roommates, you’ll have to hydrate elsewhere.” And to think we cleaned outdoors. In the winter. In Boston. For that reason, we even managed to anger ourselves. To this day, I’m not quite sure how we pulled it all off were it not for Andy, Adam, Jake, Jonas, Everett, Max and those first few staffers who had the heart, humor, and courage to believe in our operation.

And they weren’t wrong to believe.

Much has changed since those early rug rat days and 2015 will always serve as the year we put on our big boy pants. For starters, we secured our first bank loan to help grow the business, allowing us to add two more vans to the Bootstrap fleet. What’s more, in 2015 we added 500 subscribers (our biggest growth year yet) putting us in charge of managing organics for 1,400 households and businesses. Over the past 12 months, we hired 8 additional staff, including an array of rockstar drivers (I’m only reciting the now common cliché as Jacob, John, and Kurt all play in bands [but hey, great drivers too!]). Additionally, we brought on Audrey as our warehouse assistant and Lily as client billing coordinator to help out resident billing buddha Jake. Meanwhile, longtime employee Faith was promoted to operations manager. And, of course, Andy and I would like to thank the remaining staff for continuing to push us to new heights, and I’m talking about you, Emma, Megan, Jessie, Andrew, Mike, and Danny.

Our talent scout Kurt - joined us in September 2015 and helped bring on Jacob and John
Pickup artist and head talent scout Kurt. Kurt joined us in September 2015 and helped recruit Jacob and John.

And what heights were those? Well, it seems to me like we collected a mountain of food waste this year because we did — 475,000 pounds of organics wrangled, to be exact. As result, Bootstrap eliminated over 451,000 pounds of harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, while creating 237,000 pounds of compost for local use, the majority of which stayed with our farming partners for agriculture and landscaping purposes. And remember those mountains of snow in February and March? We only cancelled 1.5 days of service throughout the entire snowpocalypse as our staff of Boston yeti’s worked tirelessly to adjust schedules and make sure all of our clients were served — rain, snow or shine. It’s a true testament to our company-wide commitment to be the best; to never give up.

Rain, sleet, snow or shine – that bucket will make it to you.

When things got a bit nicer, we took off a Monday in July, allowing Team Boot to relax and take a paid day on the beach. We played some football too. Although I’m happy to know we have a competitive staff, jeez, the number of injuries that took place was concerning. See, it’s not always all work around here. Heck, we spent $2,600 on snacks this year alone, fueling our staff on KIND bars, hummus, KIND bars, fruit, KIND bars, and chips.

The Boot gang takes a team day at Good Harbor Beach
The Boot gang takes a team day at Good Harbor Beach.

Rounding out our workday efforts, we took 331 farm trips in 2015; we hand-stenciled 1,500+ buckets; we launched a line of sustainable merch; we expanded to two new communities (Melrose and Wellesley); we added our first Boston Public School to the roster, among dozens of new commercial accounts; and, best of all, we stayed true to our mission, by donating over 250 pounds of finished compost to the Mission Hill School, Community Servings, and the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain; the Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester; the Ivy Street School in Brookline; and Bigelow Daycare in Somerville. All this and over 3,000 pounds of soil amendment were delivered to the doorsteps of our subscribers. Oh yea, and we moved our entire operation to Malden to our new (and much larger) home as we continue to serve a growing army of compost nerds.

700+ containers of locally sourced soil amendment were hand packed and delivered in December!
700+ containers of locally-sourced soil amendment were hand packed and delivered to residents all over Boston in December.

All this is not to say that every day at Bootstrap is easy, because it’s not. Because every day at Bootstrap is a challenge. As a team we strive to meet and exceed these challenges. But ultimately, if it wasn’t for you – our clients, our fans and our supporters – we would have given up long ago. The way I see it, you gotta work for someone, so you might as well work for someone who gives a fuck. So thank you for caring about your planet and your community and continuing to believe in the Boot. Now let’s go kick 2016’s butt!

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