North Spore LLC

Providing Education and Equipment to Grow Sustainable and Nutritious Mushrooms

Seed funding | MTAF 2.5 | Range 3 | PRIME | $667,751

 “MTI understands and supports us in the business ecosystem we function within, from spawn distribution to sourcing sawdust to Swedish autoclaves and HEPA filtration for sterile processes.” – Michael Kersula, Director of Operations, North Spore LLC

new employees since 2019

increase in monthly revenue since 2020

North Spore is on a mission to disrupt the food system by empowering people to grow and harvest their own edible and medicinal mushrooms. They provide growing materials and education to those interested in cultivating their own edible and medicinal mushrooms in a variety of settings and scales. MTI has supported this small company in a number of ways, allowing it to pivot, grow, and remain nimble even in the face of a global pandemic, resulting in its elevated status as a trusted name in mushroom cultivation.

A year after their founding in 2014, North Spore looked to increase yields and scale its business by switching from a primarily straw-based process of mushroom cultivation to a pellet-based one. North Spore’s co-founder and CEO, Eliah Thanhauser, who had heard about MTI in his Scale Up program, approached MTI for help with implementation and was successful; a seed funding program grant supported their first hardwood pellet processing equipment.

While successfully scaling up this hardwood pellet technology, North Spore was also building its online brand through an e-commerce website selling tinctures, grow kits, teas, plug, and sawdust spawn in an effort to satisfy the increasing demand for home cultivation supplies.

In March of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic struck, which decreased fresh mushroom sales by 98 percent. North Spore’s pivot to an e-commerce company was underway, with an MTAF 2.5 grant funding an improved HEPA-filtered laboratory, vacuum-type autoclave, and custom ribbon blenders for enhanced grain processing. Once production capacity was scaled up, further MTI funding helped build the marketing team so they could continue to grow.

In order to be successful within the growing market for mushroom cultivation, North Spore’s pivot to a 100 percent e-commerce company required a large, multi-year investment in new infrastructure. MTI PRIME funding helped to defray losses from pandemic disruptions with the renovation and build-out of North Spore’s state-of-the-art processing facility in Portland. The increased capacity of the facility was accompanied by an increase in efficiency through improved layout, equipment, and healthier ergonomics for their employees.

MTI helped North Spore invest in the infrastructure it needed to make a quick and sustainable pivot to e-commerce, as well as evolve their marketing team and hire a manager to improve the production equipment funded previously in 2015. Beyond monetary grants, MTI has helped North Spore continue to grow by providing mentorship to their leadership team.

North Spore is excited to continue growing in Maine, where they credit at least some of their successes to their expanding team of creative, hard-working, enthusiastic people. North Spore also draws inspiration from other innovative Maine businesses such as Modernist Pantry, Blue Ox Malthouse, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. North Spore looks forward to continued growth and to one day becoming a globally recognized brand for everything mushrooms.