Q&A: Jesse Lear of V.I.P. Waste Services

  • Photo by Tessa Berg
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From the February 2, 2012 edition

Sometimes good ideas are right in front of your face. Jesse Lear and Travis Smith hated driving trash from their apartment to a Dumpster. Figuring others felt the same way, the two entrepreneurs started V.I.P. Waste Services, which offers door-to-door pickup of recycling and garbage at area apartment complexes. The company has taken off throughout Central Ohio.

Lear talked about creating a job that doesn’t feel like work.

I went to Cedarville University. It’s in Cedarville, Ohio, close to Dayton. Travis and I met on the first day of school. We met playing ping-pong. We sort of became best friends.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 15, doing random little projects. My whole dream, since before I’d even gone to college, was to start a business and be making enough money to support myself by the time I graduated.

After school, I moved back in with my parents. I didn’t want a job — I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t have a business yet, but I was convinced I could start one from home. It did not work out. I’m sitting there, out in the middle of the country, on dial-up internet, trying to get something started.

I’m the kind of person who is really, really focused when I’m trying to do something. But I have to be really interested to be able to focus. Otherwise, I’m doodling or making to-do lists.

Travis and I both decided to move to Columbus. We got to the point where we were emptying our trash bags out of our cans and putting them by the door. We noticed them start to pile up. One of us said to the other, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could pay someone to pick up our trash at our door, even though we live in an apartment?”

V.I.P. will be in 30 properties by the end of March. There are some in Dublin, New Albany, Westerville, Worthington, Reynoldsburg, Pataskala, Hilliard and Galloway. We have some Downtown. It’s all over. Everybody cares more than we expected.

The best advice I’ve ever received came from one of my mentors, Tim. He once said, “Success, no matter what you’re doing, is a good habit to get into. And if what you’re doing isn’t important enough to succeed at, then you need to get out and do something else.” 

Three things I would want with me on a desert island are somebody to keep me company, a knife and the Bible.