It’s tough to call a garbage logistics company a “sexy startup,” but with an $800 million valuation, board members like Leonardo DiCaprio and David Plouffe, and big-name investors including CEO of Salesforce and the co-founder of Uber, Rubicon Global has a resume that rivals many of the flashy consumer startups you’d find in the Valley.
Dubbed the Uber for trash, Rubicon’s software connects independent garbage haulers to businesses, with the goal of making trash pickup run more efficiently and ultimately diverting garbage away from landfills. Borrowing from Uber’s on-demand playbook, Rubicon’s technology optimizes routes for haulers–saving time and gas, and saves businesses on their waste removal costs. Its platform lets companies schedule pickups, make changes to their service, and see billing and sustainability data in real time.
Rubicon has landed partnerships to haul trash at large corporations like 7-Eleven, the Salvation Army and Lumber Liquidators, and it recently landed a municipal contract with the City of Atlanta, where the company is based.
But over the last few months Rubicon has started to bring on small businesses in the Chicago area who use its garbage technology. The company has signed around 50 small business clients in Chicago–from restaurants to doggy daycares–and it works with over 170 different garbage haulers who handle the removal, such as Lakeshore Recycling. It’s allowing companies more choice in their garbage collection, and helping disrupt an industry that’s dominated by Waste Management and other large trash collectors that own landfills.
Rubicon creates a more “green incentive model,” said Brian Simms, head of sales at Rubicon and a former early Groupon employee, by helping companies recycle more and track their waste over time.
“We don’t own any landfills. We’re able to not have our incentives be aligned with sending more trash to the landfills,” Simms said. “No one is going to recycle at scale if it costs them more money; it just won’t happen. But if we can allow people to recycle in a cost effective manor, there’s a significant appetite (for that).”
Rubicon has raised around $145 million since it launched, including a $50 million round in January. Its investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Uber co-founder Oscar Salazar, and hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman.
Simms says Chicago is becoming an increasingly important market for Rubicon, and expects to be a “top five market” for the company.
“Not only can we be a very successful business, but we can truly fundamentally change the way that we treat our planet, and change the way people are empowered to impact their planet,” Simms said.
Image via Rubicon