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[E4C2] Turning Home Grown Mushrooms Into A Multi-Million Dollar Business – Back to the Roots


nikhil & alejandro of back to the rootsBack to the Roots is founded in 2009 by young entrepreneurs Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley. They product gourmet mushroom kits that grow in soil composed of 100% recycled coffee grounds.

In this interview, Co-Founder Nikhil Arora shares how their green business idea became a reality, from the early days of collecting used coffee grounds from local Berkeley coffee shops, to their partnerships with Peet’s Coffee and Whole Foods, to the $5 million business it is today.

He also talks about the evolution of their product design, and how their urgent ad in Craigslist turned their mountain sized heaps of coffee ground waste into a valuable sideline business in soil amendments.

As of 2011, the company has:

  • Diverted and reused 1 million lbs of coffee grounds from the landfill
  • Helped customers grow over 250,000 lbs of their own fresh mushrooms
  • Sustained 10 school gardens through our nutritious soil amendment donations
  • Created 21 urban, green-collar jobs in the West Oakland community

10% Off Back to the Roots Aquafarms

And Get Free Shipping Until X’mas – Use Discount Code AquaFarms-Entrep

Now what exactly is an AquaFarm, you may ask?

It’s basically a fish tank that grows herb. From a company that grows shrooms.

Here’s how it works. You get a 3 gallon fish tank. The nutrient-rich water from the tank gets pumped up to the plants in the growing tray. Basically fish fertilize the plants, and the plants filter the water for the fish. It’s an awesome symbiotic relationship. You can grow organic herbs like basil and wheatgrass with this closed-loop ecosystem in any kitchen or classroom! Guaranteed to fascinate children, and adults.

Get an Aquafarm from Back to the Roots

Mentioned in this Podcast

The Tropical MBA Podcast
Dynamite Circle

 Where to find Nikhil and Alejandro

  • Twitter
  • Back to The Roots Website
  • Facebook Page
  • Linkedin
  • YouTube Channel

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Lorna Li

Chief Evolutionary Officer at Entrepreneurs for a Change
Lorna Li is a business coach, entrepreneur and Amazon rainforest crusader, with a passion for green business, social enterprise, and indigenous wisdom. She helps changemaking entrepreneurs harness the power of the Internet to reach more people and make a bigger impact, while designing the lifestyle of their dreams. She is an Internet marketing consultant to changemakers, and works with innovative tech startups, sustainable brands, social enterprises & B-Corporations on SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing.
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