Not many companies can claim that business was booming during the most recent financial crisis. Fewer can claim that they founded a purpose-driven business during one of the worst economic disasters of our time.
But Back to the Roots can.
Alejandro and Nikhil were still in school, completing their degrees, when they discovered in one of their classes that mushrooms can be grown in used coffee grounds.
Though maybe not the most revolutionary finding—this new found information fascinated them, leaving them with the desire to do something.
I had the chance to catch up with Nikhil, co-founder of Back to the Roots, and learn more about his B Corp company. As it turns out, Back to the Roots is driven by more than just fun food growing facts—they’re also passionate about bringing food back to the basics.
Alejandro and Nikhil are on a mission to make food personal again. To them, that means connecting people together with food made from kitchens–not labs–and going a step beyond just organic.
They launched their business with only one product—a mushroom growing kit—and the belief that there was a better way of doing business. Since then, their inventory has expanded, but they continue to live by the same philosophy of doing business with purpose.
Nikhil: “We’ve always been more than just a mushroom farm.”
Recently, Back to the Roots launched a new product, a self-watering cherry tomato planter. A low-tech and ancient gardening practice, the planter incorporates the olla, a ceramic unglazed pot that can absorb and then release water, acting as a natural water irrigation system.
Nikhil went on to explain Back to the Roots’ commitment to the future of food. According to him, we’re transitioning into a new wave of food, something he refers to as “radical transparency.”
Nikhil: “People want to know where their food comes from and how it’s made. They want to hear our story. Our narrative is part of a larger movement of undoing food. There should never be a patent on food. We ensure that our products are transparent and replicable. We only use nature’s technology.”
Beyond their ability to make transparent and healthy food, Back to the Roots prioritizes giving back to their customers’ communities. One such program is called Pour it Forward. When a customer takes a photo with one of their Ready to Eat or Ready to Grow products, Back to the Roots donates a product to the customer’s classroom of choice, anywhere it the United States. Beyond this, they provide classroom resources for teachers interested in educating their students about healthy eating and gardening.
With a great product line that disrupts traditional food norms and a business culture that strengthens communities, it’s no wonder they’ve received investments from incredible innovators and business leaders, including the likes of Blake MyCoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes, and Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality at Airbnb.
The social entrepreneurial community is watching and can’t wait to see what Back to the Roots does next. They’re living proof of a model that works. Purpose-driven business is not only possible, but necessary.