Talkin’ Trash: Babson’s Junk Teen Spills Secrets to Success

Brothers Kirk and Jacob McKinney at their co-founded business Junk Teens.

Whether they are gleefully demolishing a rickety jungle gym or unearthing a bizarre collection of hidden wigs, Kirk McKinney ’26 and his brother, Jacob, know the value of taking out the trash.

Junk Teens, a waste removal company started by the McKinney brothers when they were in high school, has 145,000 followers on TikTok and a rapidly growing roster of junk removal requests. Kirk McKinney took some time to talk about his growing business, how to make the junk business more sustainable, and how his time at Babson has helped boost his success.

All right, I’ve been dying to know, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve encountered on a job?

“Every single day, we come across strange things. Just last week, we found half of a frozen fish that had been vacuum sealed inside a freezer. We find stuff like that every single day. Anytime I find something interesting like that, I like to post about it,” McKinney said, referring to the Junk Teens social media accounts.

Kirk McKinney '27 against a Babson College background
Babson’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has helped Kirk McKinney ’26 and Junk Teens.

A cardboard cutout of Elvis and a surprise nest of baby bunnies (who were returned safely to their nests) are some other examples of unexpected finds.

“There’s some other stuff I found that I haven’t posted about yet, but I’m going to be making a Top 10 Strangest Items Ever Found video soon,” McKinney said.

What are the most difficult things to remove?

“Sleeper sofas and treadmills. They can take an hour or more to remove. Sleeper sofas are just heavy and obnoxious,” he said. “We’ll be taking it to the truck and the mattress pops out in the middle of moving. With treadmills, a lot of the time, people put them together inside of their basement. There’s no way to know if we’ll be able to get it out without breaking it down. So, we usually cut the top part off. If we’re saving the treadmill, we have to disassemble it, and that whole process takes a lot of time and is awkward.”

How has Babson helped your business?

“I think the biggest thing that Babson has taught me is how important it is to have a good team. How valuable it is to have good people that have positive energy and aren’t going to hold you down,” McKinney said. In particular, he noted that hiring the right team was a common theme among the entrepreneurial founders, CEOs, and C-suite leaders on Babson’s packed schedule of speaker events on the Wellesley campus.

Junk Teens Co-founders Kirk (right) and Jacob McKinney.
Junk Teens co-founders Kirk (right) and Jacob McKinney in front of their first truck.

“I have a lot of people that reach out to me every week that want to work with us. Usually, when someone reaches out, we try to find the soonest availability to have them in and see how they do. Attitude is everything,” McKinney said.

Are there other ways Babson has impacted your business?

“A very big part of our business is my friend Jake Ross ’24, a Babson student who owns (the PR firm) Build You Marketing. He’s helping us get our story to outlets that might want to write about us,” McKinney said. “It’s great being able to meet people like him at Babson that I can trust because I know that they’re from my school. I meet them before I even start working with them. That’s very valuable, and it’s helped me a lot.”

Is it difficult to run a successful business while attending college?

“Babson is the only school I wanted to go to, because of the culture and all the extra resources that Babson has that most schools don’t offer,” he said. “The people that Babson accepts as students makes it overall a perfect environment for an entrepreneur to be able to work on a business while being in school. Also, having my brother as a business partner makes it possible to balance Babson and Junk Teens.”

Posted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, Outcomes

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