Pilzling is a start-up from Cologne. In the middle of the city, we produce our gourmet mushrooms with circular economy concepts always in mind. In cooperation with cafés, roasteries and breweries, we test alternative ways for urban food production and sustainable regional networking of actors. Through the (further) development of technologies for smart and resource-saving farm systems, we want to generate interest in resource re-use and be part of urban sustainable development.
Inspired by the versatile properties of mushrooms and their mycelium (root-like web) to interconnect with other organisms and form natural resource cycles, we founded our startup. As a nutrient base for our Pilzlings (aka our mushrooms!), we transform waste products of urban life such as coffee grounds, wood chips and used grains from breweries into high-quality sources of protein. This approach is considered part of a circular economy, as it actively intervenes in the existing resource flows, adding value and thereby giving new life to seemingly waste material. To professionalize this philosophy, we are developing tools, smart technologies and processes for sustainable production of mushrooms in urban environments.
We have now been able to set up and test our concept in Cologne for a year. However, it was clear from the beginning that this phase would eventually come to an end. The WandelWerk, as seen in the video, unfortunately no longer exists due to the planned demolition of the building. We are now all the more motivated to find a new and long-term home for our Pilzlings as well as ourselves!
Our main persuading points:
Short supply chains
Energy efficient processes
Local food production
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
Recycling and Reuse of urban waste products (coffee grounds, wood chips, brewery byproducts).
Development of compact automated fruit rooms for urban pubs and restaurants (mushrooms can be harvested on site).
Production of vegan/vegetarian alternative products based on mushrooms (e.g. "burger patties", "sausages" etc.)
Use and development of smart farm systems (applicable to other urban production facilities)
Further processing of our own biological waste (materials based on mycelium e.g. acoustic panels or insulation materials etc.)
Distribution of organic compost for surrounding farms
Our target groups range from private individuals who love mushrooms or are looking for vegetarian alternatives, to companies and restaurants.
Why would you support this project?
We want to pave the way for urban food production and a circular economy in Cologne. Thinking locally and in a decentralized way is a key element for us, and we want to make a contribution to the responsible use of natural resources.
Mushrooms often have a long transport route behind them and are frequently flown in from distant countries. With our concept we not only bypass this approach, but go one step further and lighten the urban footprint by reusing supposedly local waste products, which would normally rot away in landfills.
Your support gives us the opportunity to boldly move forward with our planning of a new location, to help meet the growing demand we have received. We want our Pilzlings to show that alternative and innovative production is possible. Please help us to continue inspiring others!
Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities - Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: Sustainable consumption and production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns - towards a circular economy.
Goal 13: Climate action - Take urgent action to address climate change and its impact.
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
First and foremost, we could supply even more people in Cologne with our mushrooms, but in fact we are also concerned with the more fundamental: the basis of our work has been laid, now we want and need to think bigger and more long-term. For this we are looking for a new location for our farm, and we want to move towards an even more sustainable circular economy! To achieve this, we want to work more intensively on the topics of waste heat recovery ( to reduce the CO2 balance of our heating systems), the development of biodegradable materials (based on mycelium, e.g. acoustic panels or insulating materials, etc.) and the expansion of smart farm systems (automation and sensor technology). Through your support we can start to tackle the many plans we have.
For our cheapest model of a farm we probably need at least 62.500€. This will be used for construction, equipment and many other small things. With our set start level here on Startnext (12.500€) and your help, we can raise the minimum necessary equity for our loan (50.000€) - apart from that, it shows us how much you like our Pilzlings!
Since you are surely interested in details, what will happen with the money from Startnext + the additional 50.000€ loan:
5000-10000€ -> Construction(wood, insulation, and parts of the fruiting rooms)
10.000-15.000€ -> Completion of fruiting rooms rooms(among other things ventilation system, filter systems, etc.
30.000-45.000€ -> other equipment (rolling shelves, cargo bike and much more!)
45.000€+ ->Supporting the initial rent/deposit and making our dreams come true!!!
Who are the people behind the project?
Behind Pilzling are Christian, Fabian, Vanessa, and Trevor - four Cologne residents (by choice!) with a passion for sustainability, urban development, and smart solutions for the world of tomorrow. About a year ago, we started growing gourmet mushrooms in the heart of Cologne-Ehrenfeld and have been steadily learning ever since. We research, build, design, and tinker with our farm together while also cycling all over Cologne to collect coffee grounds for our weekly production. Oh, and of course we all have a huge passion for mushrooms!
We are grateful for our community and the productive exchange we have had with our cooperation partners. In addition to our own core Pilzling team, there were countless others who made valuable contributions to our early success - one in particular we'd like to thank is John Brandt, who helped us capture some of the great footage for the video.
If you've read this far, you're probably wondering why Vanessa doesn't appear in our video. She joined us shortly after the video was finished and we are very delighted to have her as a part of our team.
Together with your backing, we are motivated to put our ideas into action!