Packed with nutritional value, low in calories and being great sources of fibre and protein, mushroom is really a superfood in many people’s minds. Other than a healthy source of food, mushroom can be turned into useful items as well – such as wallets, boots, by converting it to leather. (Yes, you heard us right, mushroom leather!)

In our second instalment of Kopi Chat Da Bao, we’ve got Adi Reza, CEO and co-founder of Mycotech to share more about his ‘mushroom business’ and how it has grown to evolve into useful materials for other purposes.

What is Mycotech and what do you do?

Mycotech is one of Indonesia’s green start-ups, based at BLOCK71 Jakarta, working towards zero carbon footprint, and have since been operating for seven years. We started in 2012 as mushroom gourmet producers. And as we progressed, our team soon realized that mushroom can create a positive impact on the world. After one year growing mushrooms, we discovered that mushroom grown bags hardens and is harder to breakdown. Since then we initiate a research to develop this kind of phenomenon from our kitchen by borrowing mom’s pressure cooker. Luckily we didn’t have to break many mom’s kitchen tools after getting full access to mycology lab of Indonesian government-owned research agency and world-class laboratories in Singapore and Switzerland.

Can you share some tips in your entrepreneurial journey so far :

a) Sustaining is key

Mycotech initially started out as a gourmet mushroom producer who sold their mushrooms as food products. After seeing the potential that mushrooms had in replacing raw materials, the team began their research into their bio-material product, Mycelium. However, they did not entirely shift from a food business to a tech start-up. Till this day, the company continues to sell mushrooms as food, but channel their profits to fund their research into Mycelium. This cashflow allows the company to better sustain themselves, especially since they are still a growing start-up.

b) Do not be afraid to start small.

Everyone has to start somewhere. For Adi and his team, they began their research in their mother’s pantry. It was not always smooth-sailing and they met with many failures at first. However, it was through this process they learnt more about their product, as well as its production process and ways to improve it. This allowed them to scale-up to where they are today, with even better prospects to come in the future.

c) Create a solid foundation.

It is important not to be too ambitious when it comes to scaling up your company. Taking more time to perfect your product rather than rushing for expansion can benefit more than it costs in the long run. As mentioned by Adi, despite the increasing demand for Mycelium products, Mycotech’s focus for the coming two years will actually be to improve production processes within a smaller scale. This ensures the company maintains high production and quality standard in its products, even after it scales up in the future.

d) Know your market.

In the case of Mycotech, the demand for non-animal leather is skyrocketing. This helped their idea and company to grow significantly as there are ample opportunities in the market. Therefore, if you are keen on having your own start-up, researching more into growing trends can help you find the right type of market and demand you are willing to serve. This will help make your entrepreneurial journey smoother as opportunities will come by easier.

e) Jump on opportunities!

Opportunities are everywhere and it is up to one to seize them. When Mycotech saw the opportunity to run a kickstarter campaign in Indonesia, they agreed to it as they believed it was a chance to have their products tested by customers. The feedback received from their campaign was helpful as it taught them more about their product as well as the needs of the market. Therefore, one should never shy away from opportunities as there is always a chance of learning, which can lead to growth and improvement in the long run.

Summary

  1. Sustainability is key
  2. Do not be afraid to start small
  3. Create a solid foundation
  4. Know your market
  5. Jump on opportunities
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