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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fwd: How Two Frat Boys Turned Shrooms and Trash into Millions



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Daily GOOD <hello@goodinc.com>
Date: Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 1:44 PM
Subject: How Two Frat Boys Turned Shrooms and Trash into Millions
To: GOOD Readers <technologiclee@gmail.com>


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Upcycling's Upshot: How Urban Mushroom Farmers Turned Scavenging into a Business
TODAY'S GOOD



10% fratty 50% fungal 40% fresh

In domestic relationships, one of the quickest ways to butter up your partner is by taking out the trash. In business, removing festering piles of waste also makes you the sort of person who's gets missed when you're not around.

In 2009, Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez were recent graduates of the University of California at Berkeley who had both been offered positions in consulting and investment banking. Yet both were stuck on an idea they came across in their business ethics class: Gourmet mushrooms grow and flourish in recycled coffee grounds; thus, waste from one industry could be fertile ground for another. Trash, if not treasure, could be a sustainable and cost-free raw material.

The two set to experimenting with growing mushrooms in coffee grounds in the basement of Velez's fraternity. They managed one crop in an old paint bucket and immediately charged out to their local Whole Foods, where they showed their harvest to the first person they saw in the produce department: "Hey, look, we grew these mushrooms."

Two weeks later, they received a call from the regional produce manager for Northern California Whole Foods stores. They were told that if they could figure out how to do it on a larger scale, "we can blow this up in stores."

But if the pair were going to make a real go of upcycling coffee grounds and establishing themselves as gourmet mushroom suppliers, they would need more than what they could collect on foot from local coffee shops.

Photo courtesy of Spencer Brown

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