In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.
At a glance
Founder: Thomas Brain
Business: Oak & Spore
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
At Oak and Spore, we specialise in three core areas of the mushroom industry. Firstly, we grow and supply fresh mushrooms for the local Canterbury market. We take pride in the quality of our produce and strive to provide the best possible customer experience. We grow and supply gourmet species to the top restaurants in Christchurch, alongside making them available at local farmers markets.
Secondly, we offer mushroom growing kits for the New Zealand market. Our kits are widely stocked in leading hardware stores, such as Bunnings and Mitre 10, making it easy for anyone to grow mushrooms at home. We take a comprehensive approach to our kits, providing detailed instructions and support, ensuring our customers have success in their mushroom growing endeavours.
Lastly, we provide online education courses and a YouTube channel, focused on teaching people how to grow mushrooms at home. Our courses cover what it takes to start a small scale profitable mushroom farm. We take pride in offering a comprehensive and engaging educational experience, and we are committed to helping people develop their mushroom growing skills.
We are passionate about mushrooms and believe they have the power to transform the way people think about food and sustainability. Whether you are a local market shopper, a DIY enthusiast, or a global learner, our company has something to offer.
What’s the backstory for your business idea?
After serving 12 years as an Airman in the RNZAF, and a Police Officer in Auckland, I found my calling in the mushroom industry. I had grown weary of working for the government, so googled “what’s the most expensive crop I can grow” and discovered that mushrooms were among the top.
Since then, I have dedicated myself to growing fresh mushrooms for the local Canterbury market, creating mushroom growing kits for the New Zealand market available in Bunnings and Mitre 10 stores, and running a mushroom education YouTube channel and online courses to share my knowledge with a global market.
What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?
I learnt everything I could from YouTube, and at the same time started my own YouTube channel. My channel is now one of the established mushroom growing channels, with an emphasis on growing mushrooms as a business, on YouTube. We have 43,000 subscribers, and interact daily with growers from around the world.
Never having a mentor was always one of my greatest challenges, and because of that I grew my business to offer mentoring services to the industry.