In SUGEE Startups, we will introduce you to inspirational startups in the world which can be your role-model.
We begin this series with Mycotech in Indonesia, which is pursuing the potential of mushroom as a solution for realizing a sustainable society. This time, we interviewed their CMO and Co-founder, Mr. Ronaldiaz. He passionately told us interesting stories behind this unprecedented mycology project. This interview in the latter part of this column definitely gives you insights and encourages you to take action in what you can do for our society.
Mycotech is the mushroom startup in Indonesia which founded 2012 when they realized the potential of mushroom as the solution to save the world. Their mission is to deliver sustainable material from renewable resources with affordability. After several years of research in laboratories, which have supported by the Indonesian government, currently, they are producing environmentally friendly materials from mushrooms.
In this section, we will show you a part of the interview of Mr. Ronaldiaz, CMO and co-founder of Mycotech, which was conducted on 2 June 2020.
You can find a full version of this interview on our Youtube channel. Check it out!（SUGEE YouTube: Turning Waste into Profit with Mycotech）
Thank you for accepting our interview Mr. Ronaldiaz!
At first, could you explain the history of Mycotech itself?
OK. I started my career as an architect. I practiced architecture in Jakarta and Singapore for about three to four years. And then my friends and I came up with an idea of making a product based on the agricultural base. So, we started with the Grow box, a DIY mushroom kit that you can grow anytime and anywhere. We exported them into Singapore where I was working and it was a huge hit. Afterward, we did a lot of research, and then found out that mushroom, not only can be just gourmet or you can just eat a mushroom, but we concern also mushroom into materials.
That’s why, in 2015, we started creating mushroom materials and at the same time, we created a company called Mycotech.
Afterward, we have done a lot of collaborative researches with partner institutions. From 2016 to 2018, our business model was project-bases. We did several projects with several partners all across Asia and Europe. One of them was in Vietnam and had some projects were in Germany, Bali, and Singapore. By the end of 2018, we completed seed round funding. After that, we shifted our focus from a project-based business model into full research while trying the product-market fit. Because we have been able to reach the product-market fit by the end of 2019, our target has shifted into product-market availability in 2020. Currently, we are trying to scale up our production capacity to fulfill all demands that coming up to us.
At first, we started with MYCOTREE. It is a mushroom composite. We bind agricultural wastes with mushroom mycelium. You can shape it any shape you like.
Afterward, we started making BIOBO in 2018. It’s a binderless board that you do not need to use any grue to combine them. It is easy to use. You can just cut them into anything you like. For example, you can make any furniture you want out of them.
And at last, we found out that mushrooms can also make leather-like materials. We call it MYLEA, Mycelium Leather. There is no animal harmed in the manufacturing process of it.
What is the most challenging during development?
Our biggest challenge is that we do not have any standard to be followed on. Because we are the first ones to make mushroom materials, so we have to find our own standards.
Also, after funding in 2018, we started growing our team to accelerate the growth of the company itself. Afterward, one of the main challenges that we faced was creating a company culture among a lot of people. Each person has their own values and their visions. Therefore aligning all the visions was the challenge for the company to move forward in one direction as one.
Then how do you align everyone’s value?
First of all, we all know that Mycotech as the company has its objective. In Mycotech, however, we always talk to the staff and our employees about their personal objectives and how Mycotech can help them to achieve it. Then we try to align their objectives, with the company one. That’s why we can align them or direct them in one direction.
Although it doesn’t mean we offer them help, the employee itself should put their position in the company. They have to change themselves because our principle is “we cannot change other people”. Hence most of the people in Mycotech are highly initiated and we do not need to tell them what to do.
From the Website, we can see that Mycotech team is passionate about making an impact on Social and Environmental problems. Could you explain to us how mushroom products contribute to a sustainable society?
Currently, the processes in most industries are the linear process from extractions of raw materials into dumping.
However, we use agricultural waste as raw materials. We start with the waste of other industries and then make products out of them. It means we upcycle them. Afterward, we make our products. Also, because our product is fully biodegradable and is a natural base, it is really easy to be degraded to the earth. Therefore, it does not become waste, but it became compostable and degradable to the earth. At last, it backs into the earth, and then it contributes to the agricultural industries to produce waste which we use to produce materials. Consequently it becomes circular.
What we are trying to do is this, to revolutionize the way how we produce material, from linear to circular.
Does Mycotech have any plans for expanding your products overseas?
In 2019, we focused on production in Indonesia, however, Japan is one of the main destination markets for us. Last year, we got invited to the exhibition in Osaka, “Living Design Exhibition”. We got a positive impression of this market because the market is aligned with our values and Japanese people showed us huge interests in how we create the materials. Hence our target is to enter the Japanese market this year.
Finally, the last question.What are Mycotech’s biggest dreams and goals in the future?
Our dream is to collaborate with local communities to use their local agricultural wastes to grow their own local materials which they use locally in their communities. For example, entering into the Japanese market, we are planning to collaborate with the local farmers there to use their local waste, rather than produce it in Indonesia then export it. Because sustainability is our core value, we try to reduce our carbon footprint as low as possible.
That will be our future. We will have small productions in many countries all across the world. Not only grow the materials, but we also want to grow together with the local communities.
Besides, currently, leather is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases. We use a lot of spaces and use a lot of water to produce it. Also, their production process is really toxic and chemicals. It’s really bad for the earth. So that’s why Mycotech here. We are trying to give you more sustainable alternatives from leather.
We call it, “Creating profits while saving”.
This time we introduced an amazing Mycelium startup from Indonesia, Mycotech. They are powerfully changing the notion of materials with the solution no one ever imagined. Their slogan, “Creating profits while saving” is exactly describing their spirit. If you found an interest in them, do not hesitate to visit their website to be a part of their challenge. (https://www.mycote.ch)
In SUGEE Kansai YouTube channel, we are publishing the full version of this interview video. You can see more stories about Mycotech’s passion against this material, their entering plan to Japan, and also their challenge with Olympic, etc. Please check it out!
（SUGEE YouTube: Turning Waste into Profit with Mycotech）