In Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 9, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots, producer of gourmet mushroom growing kits nourished with recycled Peet’s Coffee grounds.
Back to the Roots co-founders Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora
Arora and his co-founder were about to graduate from UC Berkeley in 2009 when they learned during a class lecture that it’s possible to grow gourmet mushrooms in used coffee grounds. Inspired by the notion of turning waste into fresh, local food, they founded Back to the Roots. Since then, connecting families to food has become Arora’s “true passion,” and the company’s slickly designed, easy-to-use urban mushroom farm kits produce a gourmet crop of oyster mushrooms in about 10 days. Back to the Roots now also sells a three-gallon aquaponics garden, perfect for growing an herb garden on a kitchen counter or in a classroom.
Last year, President Obama invited Arora and his co-founder to the White House to discuss how the administration could support small businesses. Arora says it was “cool to be representing Oakland,” which he describes as the epicenter of the start-up food culture. In addition to a loan from the city, Back to the Roots received redevelopment funding to move its warehouse to Oakland. The company also received a $25,000 loan from Whole Foods (which is fitting because produce guys from the Berkeley store were early advisors) and raised nearly $250,000 via Kick Starter.
With a core commitment to sustainability, Back to the Roots is a certified B Corporation. Today, they’re working to build a global, “hip and fun” lifestyle brand that connects people to food.
Are you interested in growing your own food?
Listen to the interview with Arora:Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum(27:37 mins; mp3)
Back to the Roots Website: http://www.backtotheroots.com
960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com
Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo