All too often we get that amazing business idea that could open the door to a life of provision and influence but most of the time we just dismiss it as a passing thought. What we don’t realize is that there is a burgeoning list of successful entrepreneurs who have taken their sudden thoughts seriously and are REALLY happy they did. Nikhil Arora is one of them who I recently had the privilege of interviewing. He and his friend Alex Velez are the co-founders of Back To The Roots, a company that is bent on connecting children with the science of food cycles. Their first business idea came one day during a class at university when they heard that mushrooms can be grown in used coffee grounds. Let’s fast forward 5 years to the present and they both are now overseeing a multi-million dollar operation which was built on this original idea.
When Nikhil and Alex started their business, there were some cafes that were actually paying them to take away their used coffee grounds. Back at their shop they’d refine the process of preparing the coffee grains, seeding and then incubating them to be packaged later. Unbelievably, their mushroom growing kits are now gracing the shelves of the some of the largest retailers in the US.
Not content with urban mushroom farming, Nikhil and Alex went to work on their next idea which is based on the science of hydroponics. After much planning and market research they created the AquaFarm, but not without some apprehension. During their market research phase there were a number of naysayers in the retail industry that didn’t share Nikhil and Alex’s vision. Still, the idea seemed like a win if they did things right from the beginning. One of their foundational decisions to reduce the probability of any negative anomalies was to work with an experienced design firm called Daylight Design based in San Francisco. After having learned from their ordeal with designing their mushroom kits, they knew that bringing professional designers on board would yield quicker results and make the product more accessible.
Designing a plastic product is no easy task and is usually prohibitively expensive. So Nikhil and Alex took to a popular crowd funding website called Kickstarter. The AquaFarm campaign began with a goal of raising $100,000. But after 30 days they were able to raise almost $250,000 based on people’s excitement and positive outlook for the product. Be sure to listen to this part in the interview because I believe this is extremely pivotal for any budding entrepreneur. So what’s next for the product line of Back To The Roots? Well, they have the ground and water covered. It seems to me like we’ll be seeing something to do with the air. Maybe a high tech bird feeder… There are lots of possibilities and maybe you could help shed some light on the best ones. Be sure to leave your ideas below for some serious consideration!