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Gumelo lets you grow your own food

We met the entrepreneurial guys of Gumelo, a Portuguese startup in the food sector, at the SIAL 2014 fair in Paris. We just loved what they do and thought it would be good for them to get some exposure beyond the borders of Portugal.

Grow mushrooms in your apartment

As we explained in a previous article, the concept behind Gumelo is simple : wherever you live, you should be able to grow your own food. Gumelo’s concept stands for simplicity and enables everyone, even those living in apartments, to grow and harvest mushrooms.

Growing mushrooms is not new. You may have tried it in your basement but it’s far from being easy, it takes space, you need a basement and the least we can say is that it’s no “sexy”. You probably won’t bring your friends to your basement to let them admire your mushroom production, will you ? Gumelo has solved the problems for you …

The story and the entrepreneurs behind Gumelo

First of all, where is this name, “Gumelo”, coming from ? The translation of “mushroom” in Portuguese is “Cogumelo” which has, just like in English, a shortened version, namely “Gumelo”.

The project was born in Almeirim, 100 km north of Lisbon, in the head of João Cavaleiro, a trained biologist with a passion for mushrooms. João found a scientific study dedicated to growing mushrooms on coffee by-products. He experimented growing Oyster mushroom on spent coffee grounds. Later his childhood friend Tiago Marques (whom we met at SIAL) joined the team to take care of design aspects. Yet, a team made of a biologist and a designer was, in Tiago’s words, not the best combination to succeed and Rui Apolinário, another friend, came in to bring his management and selling skills.

How Gumelo works

The city of Almeirim is known for its restaurants. The team of Gumelo collects there the spent coffee grounds they need and will then seed it. Everything is made more or less by hand.

The coffee ground and seeds are then sealed into a special plastic bag that is put into the box. You’ll note that Tiago has made a great job at designing an attractive packaging in recycled cardboard with water-based inks.

The box is everything you need. You open it, cut through the sealed bag, spray it with water twice a day and soon you’ll be able to harvest delicious Oyster mushrooms.

There is a normal version, priced at 15€, and a small one targeted at children for 10-12€.

Tiago was kind enough to give us a box and we’ll obviously use it and report


Tiago explained that he was extremely motivated to “create something” with his friends and to start his own venture. We find Gumelo an amazing example of a profitable, yet low-cost project, that brings friends together and build long-term ties. This team proves that you don’t need to have an ICT project to start a venture. The word “startup” is too often connected to an ICT innovation but it’s by far not true. There are myriad customers’ problems, customer dissatisfaction in this world that can be addressed by something else than technology.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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