BTTR Ventures Social Entrepreneur Story
Social entrepreneur Nikhil Arora and his business partner Alex Velez, one of the world’s leading successful entrepreneurs gave up careers in investment banking to start a company that grows gourmet mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. Back to the Roots uses the old coffee grounds as food for mushrooms that they sell wholesale, and also package into kits that allow buyers to grow their own mushrooms at home. It all started with a random fact which they learned in a business ethics class at UC Berkely, which is that gourmet mushrooms can be grown in coffee grounds. That seed of an idea led the two to speculate that by turning waste into something of value they could make a huge impact. They contacted their professor to learn more, and he put them in touch with each other and with the famed mycologist Paul Stamets. They ordered spores, scrounged for used grounds, and inoculated them with mycelium in Velez’s frat house room, which became a mini-science lab.