Sustainable Mushroom Startup Mamu Wins Best Venture Lab Project
Sustainable mushroom maker Mamu wins Best Venture lab Project at December graduation, capping a stellar year.
Sustainable mushroom maker start-up Mamu won Best Venture Lab Project at the December graduation, capping a stellar launch year that saw the IE Business School team reap accolades for its principles of circular economy.
Formed by International MBA students Margarita Limcaoco, Antoine Lamarche, Alex French and Vince Lee Monrroy, the company collects spent grain (used barley) from breweries and recycles it as raw material to produce fresh mushrooms.
The foursome’s award at the graduation ceremony in December came on the heels of winning both First Place and Best MBA Team at IE Venture Day in November, First Place at the Entrepreneurial Summit Pitch Competition that same month, and placing as a Finalist at IE Startup Lab in June.
“The students of Mamu showed a passion for having impact in our society while doing something that scaled financially in the Venture Lab.”
“From the beginning of their MBA program in the Entrepreneurial Venturing class, the students of Mamu showed a passion for having impact in our society while doing something that scaled financially in the Venture Lab,” said Managing Director of Venture Lab Paris de l’Etraz. “This passion all came together around a concept that was actually scaling in Canada. Their level of commitment and passion was second to none.”
Mamu was born during the five-week intensive Startup Lab module, where the team members said that in addition to classes, they were “given real investors and entrepreneurs as mentors, and a chance to pitch, pivot, and persevere every week.”
Then, Mamu placed as one of 54 teams across all IE University’s programs accepted to the Venture Lab, which ran from September to December.
A mix of Philippines, Luxemburg, Panama and Costa Rica, the team members said their international vision helped them find someone in Canada doing a similar project– which showed them the viability of the project and gave them a mentor who generously shared his know-how.
But the key to their successful experience, said Limcaoco, was the synergy created by their different backgrounds coupled with the disciplined setting of Venture Lab.
“Venture Lab helped us make time to nurture the project,” she said. “We come from very different concentrations, with different professional goals. But we were lucky enough to be the right team and find an idea we were crazy about, mostly the sustainability angle.”
In fact, the team’s excitement about the project expanded as they saw they could actually grow great-tasting mushrooms and that there was a market for them. Blind taste tests, trips to Madrid’s central wholesale market Mercamadrid and strategically placing the product with restaurants showed the team the company could expand beyond the walls of IE Business School.
“Since the beginning, I knew I did not want this to be just something academic,” French said. “It is risky and scary but the excitement and passion is greater.”
As the recent graduates weigh the next step of their young company, they have harkened upon a new way to further reduce waste by turning their raw material into animal feed.
“That would make us a zero-waste business, which is our real vision,” Limcaoco said. “We want to show this business model is possible. It’s just a matter of connecting the dots.”