High on Mushrooms

“This whole country revolves around one-time use, this is not going to last. It is not sustainable.”  

 – Nikhil Arora

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Soon to be graduates of UC Berkeley, Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez spent their last college years growing mushrooms in the kitchen of their fraternity house. Though you may assume their quest to be one of the adventurous, young adults, in search of a psychedelic experience, their venture was in the field of profitable business.

In 2009, potted in a paint can, Nikhil and Alejandro attempted their first planting scheme of using recycled coffee grounds to harvest decadent gourmet mushrooms.  In sprout of their success they hustled to their local Whole Foods in attempt to shelve their shrooms.  Two weeks later, the regional produce manager for Northern California Whole Foods stores gave them the challenge of taking their idea out of paint cans and into stores.

They became over-night urban mushroom farmers.  Making their first business deal with the local Peet’s Coffee Shop to buy and reuse their pound of coffee waste to make grounds for a profitable business model, Nikhil and Alejandro made a mushroom-cloud bombing of a bust in Whole Food stores and local gourmet restaurants.  They soon became what is known today as “Back to the Roots”.

“What started as a small-scale farm supplying local restaurants and a few groceries expanded to include the mushroom kits, which now sell at 1,000 retail centers nationally. Since its founding, Back To The Roots has repurposed 1 million pounds of coffee grounds. After one year, the company had revenue of a quarter-million dollars…This year the company forecasts $5 million in revenue.”

From coffee grounds to mushrooms, these modern day entrepreneurs make a grandma proud with their efforts in the “waste not, want not” category of generational advice.  Can’t we all make “one man’s trash is a another man’s treasure” part of our daily practice in efforts to be self-sustaining stewards of our world?

I think so.

source: Back to the Roots


One comment

  1. This is great. Young entrepreneurs just asking questions and being ever interesting and imaginative.

    here is a link to their elaborated story::

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