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Back to the Roots

New Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit

Turning a million pounds of java waste into millions of dollars.

Ever wondered what coffee shops do with all of those used coffee grounds?

Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez were classmates at UC Berkeley. One day, their teacher mentioned that used coffee grounds could potentially be used to grow mushrooms.

The young men smelled a challenge. So they collected coffee grounds from the campus coffee shops. Then, they found a mushroom expert online, got some gourmet mushroom spore, and grew their first batch of mushrooms in a paint bucket.

The “Fungis” were successful. In 2009, they became Back to the Roots, a company that quickly began selling 500 pounds of mushrooms a week to local retailers.

But wait!  Community feedback was unexpected. People wanted to try growing their own mushrooms. And just like that, Back to the Roots switched from mushroom growers, to mushroom kit makers.

What’s a mushroom kit? Well, essentially it’s a bag of USED coffee grounds infused with mushroom spore. Just mist twice a day, and voila, within ten days, you got a pound and a half of mushrooms!

Last year, Back to the Roots repurposed one million pounds of coffee waste and sold kits at retail stores coast to coast. Recent annual revenue projections?  $5.4 million dollars!

Arora and Velez exemplify two of our Business Axioms For Entrepreneurs: Find a new application for an existing productand Go with the Flow.

Turn waste into grow-your-own mushroom kits? Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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