Being Green is Only Part of Fargreen

Being Green is Only Part of Fargreen

By Kate Jeracki

Trang Tran has a few modest goals for the business she started at Colorado State University: help rice farmers in her native Vietnam stay on the land by growing an additional profitable crop; reduce air and water pollution by turning waste into mulch; and reform the country’s market for a staple item.

“Fargreen will be the first branded mushrooms sold in Vietnam,” said Trang, 27. “Most of the mushrooms sold in the markets today come from China, but because of the trust gap when it comes to quality, sellers don’t tell customers where they are from. Nobody would buy them.”

She and business partner Tanmay Telang are raising capital by winning business plan competitions, including the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition at the University of Washington in Seattle in February, and are in the final round of the Walmart for Better Living Business Plan Competition in Bentonville, Ark., in April.

“We want to have $150,000 on hand to operate for a year before we need to make a profit,” explained Tanmay, the Fargreen’s chief operating officer and an engineer. “Once we prove the concept, we’d like to take Fargreen to other countries with similar challenges, like India, where I am from.”

Tanmay Telang, left, and Trang Tran are raising money for their company by winning business competitions
Tanmay Telang, left, and Trang Tran are raising money for their company by winning business competitions

Fargreen has been awarded a fellowship with the CSU Center for Collaborative Conservation and is one of the student companies in the Venture Accelerator in the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, It is also on the Collegiate Track of the CSU-sponsored Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge in Fort Collins in May. They have a shot at $20,000 in the pitch competition, as well as a chance to compete for the overall award of $250,000 plus a one year business mentorship.

Fargreen was originally a Global Sustainable Social Enterprise MBA program business solution to the pollution caused by burning waste from the rice harvest. If the waste were turned into mulch instead, they reasoned, it would provide a perfect medium for growing oyster and paddy straw mushrooms, which could then be marketed domestically as premium products.

Based on the success of a small test crop in Ha Nam province over the summer of 2013, Trang and Tanmay will be going to Vietnam after graduation in May to run an extended pilot and add local farmers to the Fargreen network.

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