AnyJunk scooped the coveted Good Web Guide Awards Website of The Year. Here, founder and CEO Jason Mohr shares his story.

Former Rothschild banker, Jason Mohr, founded AnyJunk in 2004 with a single rubbish truck. Last night, fifteen years on, the leading disruptor in waste management took home The Good Web Guide’s prestigious Website of the Year Award, in recognition of the innovative, tech-based solution to a universal problem, executed with eminently navigable clarity and ease.

In the afterglow of the win, we were delighted to grab twenty minutes with Jason to chat the AnyJunk’s trajectory. Here, he tells us about swapping banking for rubbish disposal, how the likes of Uber inspired him to develop the pioneering tech which enables a reduction in carbon emissions and supports local companies; and reveals the strangest thing AnyJunk has been asked to dispose of.

Congratulations to Jason and the AnyJunk team!

Huge congratulations! AnyJunk, your low-cost eco-friendly large waste removal business, has just been crowned Website of the Year at our annual Good Web Guide Awards. You’re a hugely deserving winner. What does the accolade mean for you and for AnyJunk?

Super happy and proud to win. The Good Web Guide Awards are about celebrating websites with simple user journeys that deliver great value services and products customers can trust. So winning Website of the Year is not only a fantastic recognition of all the hard work the team has put into the AnyJunk site, but also – on a more practical note - should definitely help reassure new visitors about the credibility of our solution!

Tell us a little about AnyJunk’s origins. The business started trading in 2004 – was there been a big eureka moment, or had the idea been percolating for a while?

When I quit the City to do something entrepreneurial, I had no idea at all what that would be. I spent about a year looking at different ideas (including international money transfer and window boxes outside restaurants) and finally hit on junk removal. Maybe deep down I’ve always been a fan of minimalism though.

How did – and does – AnyJunk differ from other large rubbish clearance companies?

Our key differentiator is how we use tech to partner with local waste businesses, rather than operating our own fleet. Our digital platform matches jobs to the nearest operator with spare capacity who then connects to us via our App as they undertake the work. This model cuts miles per collection and increases response speeds – allowing us to provide a low cost, fast and very reliable service. Plus, rather than adding our own trucks and congestion to the roads, we get to support local business and help cut carbon emissions.

You are a trained lawyer and a former Rothschild banker, which, at a glance, seems a far cry from removing rubbish. How different is daily life as the CEO and founder of AnyJunk?

I remember a few months after launching AnyJunk, a couple of my former Rothschild colleagues saw me loading junk on their way to work. I was covered in dust trying to manoeuvre junk across a rush hour pavement in the City. They were in suits carrying Financial Times and coffees. So yes….very different. Although these days, I no longer lift the junk myself!

Can you describe a typical day?

Not really as it changes so much. Although maybe that tells you I should be a bit more systematic in how I work!

Tell us about the early days of the business. For the first six months, you had a single truck, which you personally worked on. What was that period like – daunting? Liberating?

I absolutely loved it. The manual labour was great compared to being stuck in an office all day, and promoting the business and building a client base was genuinely loads of fun. We used to drive along busy streets playing music through an external speaker on the truck (like an ice cream van), stand with big banners outside tube stations, and hand out cards in B&Q car parks. It was such a change from stuffy meetings and being told what to do by my boss. I just couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner.

Let’s talk about AnyJunk’s eco-credentials. Can you explain a little about what makes it such an environmentally friendly option for people wanting to get rid of their large waste?

The first part is what happens with the junk and the second is the logistics and carbon footprint to get it there. In terms of disposal, everything we collect (unless it can be reused) is taken to licensed commercial recycling facilities – that on average divert over 96 per cent of waste from landfill. In terms of logistics and fuel emissions, our tech platform / local partner model means that distance travelled to and from each collection is less than a traditional operator, because our virtual fleet is so big and we’re always connecting the nearest available operator rather than sending trucks from miles away.

AnyJunk operates on the basis that, via its app, it connects people to local waste collection companies. How has the advent of the web, and the attendant innovations such as mobile apps, impacted your business? Could you have pulled it off without the technology?

Technology has transformed how we operate. It allows us to connect with local partners in real time and monitor their service at a fraction of the cost than was ever possible when I started AnyJunk in 2004. Plus customers’ attitudes towards brands and service are steadily changing. Today being a great service brand is increasingly not about big advertising spend and employing thousands of people wearing a branded polo shirt. What’s important is the service itself and what customers think and say about it. And, although we all like the reassurance of a national brand, I think given the choice most people would prefer to support local business. Happily AnyJunk ticks both boxes.

In fact, you were an early adopter of this kind of model: a disruptor service reinventing a commodity without the cumbersome necessity to own any trucks yourself. Has it been interesting to watch other businesses – Airbnb, Uber for example – unfold with similar models?

It would be nice to agree, but the truth is that it was companies like Uber and Airbnb that inspired me. We operated as a traditional business with our own fleet before our tech platform model. That said, platform businesses tend to rely on gig style workers, whereas we work with small businesses and help optimise their productivity.

What has been the stand-out moment in AnyJunk’s 15-year history?

Opening the London Stock Exchange after winning British Chambers of Commerce’s Business of the Year was very cool. Although to be honest I spent most of the time worrying about the speech I had to give afterwards.

Have there been any especially funny moments? Or edge-of-seat ones?

Lots of funny ones, but probably best not published here! As for edge-of the-seat ones – a few, but that’s half the fun of running your own business.

What’s the oddest thing you remember AnyJunk being asked to remove?

Probably the Skoda car cake. It was a to-scale cake of a Skoda car that they used for a TV advert. We ended up taking it away for compost.

You’re already turning over £10m per annum and taking on 2,000 collections a week. What’s in store for the next five years, in time for your 20th anniversary?

Overseas expansion (we’re launching with a partner in the US in a few weeks!) and also applying our technology and model to similar service sectors.

And finally, what advice would you give to any other would-be entrepreneurs with a great idea to change the face of an industry?

Sounds naff I know, but a great idea isn’t the important bit, it’s the stubbornness needed to make it a reality.

Read more:

GWG Awards 2019 Winners
My Web with Jason Mohr

By Nancy Alsop

November 2019