Now that I’ve announced my return from writing retirement, let’s address the elephant in the room. What the hell am I up to nowadays? Well, one thing in particular absorbs about 150% of my awake time. The beast of burden? The one and only Bootstrap Compost. I live it. I breathe it. It smells like compost. I figure I should to tell you a bit more about it, and how I got here, and some other personal tidbits to fill the gaps.
[puts on corporate hat] Hi my name is Igor Kharitonenkov and I am co-founder and Vice President of Bootstrap Compost (BSC). BSC is a residential and commercial food scrap pickup service founded in Boston in January 2011. Our mission is to collect organic material and redistribute it to area farms for the sake of composting. Every day, we divert hundreds of pounds of food scraps from landfills, and in the process, help create a valuable resource for the local food community by creating a safe, nutrient rich, all natural soil amendment. All told, we serve to empower individuals and families by building a community around composting. To date, serving over 450 subscribers, we’ve diverted nearly 200,000 pounds of compostable material from landfills. As VP, I spearhead business development.
[takes off corporate hat] You’ll have to excuse me, but I can’t explain the trajectory, even to myself. I went from an unemployed, grad-school dropout. I was a depressed blogger, a guy whose alarm clock was set to double digits, only so I could get up to write in my pajamas. In many ways, I was a bleeding-heart liberal looking for a solution in a society that seemed apathetic to solutions. And here I am, co-founding a popular, market-proven and growing green startup company, making a real impact in our community. And we’re really doing it. Our clients, the press, fellow entrepreneurs, they love us. The plants love us. It’s really too fucking much to think about. I’ll psychoanalyze later.
Just today, I found myself on a panel at Harvard speaking about social entrepreneurship. I know what you’re thinking, but c’mon I gotta name drop, it’s Harvard. And they gave me a sweet pen for participating. Which means I feel like a made man, Goodfellas style. Anyway, I was asked about the mentality of succeeding as an entrepreneur. My advice? Fake it until you make it. It’s what I said and it got a good laugh. But I’m not selling myself short, this is relevant. I told the story of my friend who cheated on every test in college. He got a degree without putting in half the work. He’s now a successful businessman. I don’t endorse this by any means. I believe in an honest day’s work. But my friend has serious charisma and can sell you fire in hell. As for me, I’m not as naturally gifted. But maybe I was in the right place at the right time. Maybe it was my hard work. I think it was a combination, but mostly, it was good attitude and a hope that just one day, maybe one day, I’d be able to prove that yes, I do in fact have some talents to offer this real world. It was a fight and I had my doubts. I got depressed. But I knew a better day would come. I faked that good day, until I got there. I’m still, in many ways, getting there.
To those who know me best, I’ve always been a believer in that cliche JFK quote, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Living in the United States with a college degree in hand, I’m like in the top 5% of the global population. I pretty much have a golden ticket, no matter what happens, so I’m doing what I set out to do: fight the good fight in the name of mother nature. And I’m making a living doing it.