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Back to the Roots offers gourmet mushroom-growing kits that turn old coffee grounds into fancy additions to home-cooked meals. Not only that, but the social enterprise has also incorporated pretty packaging and top notch marketing to grow their sustainable, environmentally-friendly business.
Back to the Roots was founded by Alex Velez and Nikhil Arora who were inspired to recycle used coffee grounds to create something desirable while attending their last semester at UC Berkley in 2009. When first experimenting with the idea, the young social entrepreneurs transformed a fraternity kitchen into their mini science lab, and after successfully growing their own gourmet mushrooms, pitched the product to their local Whole Foods.
In their TEDx video, featured above, Alex and Nihil discuss the backstory of their successful urban mushroom farm business. They share what they’ve learned about operating a social business and what it really takes to be sustainable and profitable.
Today Back to the Roots is working to inspire youth and encouraging schools to incorporate “grow your own mushroom” projects to teach students about fresh, local and sustainable food. They also offer urban mushroom kits as corporate gifts, as well as bulk orders.