There’s a fungus among us – and why that could be a good thing

Taking a unique path in his career endeavors, college-dropout Daniel Martinez is building a mushroom machine that allows people to quickly grow various types of fungi in the comfort of their own homes. 

Many species of this fungi are packed with health benefits and have attracted a growing amount of respect in the culinary arts and healthy support of the mind and body. 

Martinez and his first MycoGuru prototype grow box in his bedroom/workshop. (Matthew Wetcher/SFMN)

Martinez, 26, is launching a company, “MycoGuru.” He created a solution to grow various fungi at home quickly. He has developed a product/system called the “MycoGuru,” which produces mushrooms in a single automated system. 

He wants to create three models: one with a modern look, one that looks like it is from the 1800s, and one with a retro aesthetic. All three designs would serve the same purpose in growing mushrooms; the only difference would be the artistic and creative appearance. 

There will be different grow boxes including some custom so people can choose from a variety of options to suit their needs and preferences. Martinez said the boxes will cost anywhere from $80 to $250.                  

“The MycoGuru grow boxes can be something that people can have sitting in their house and look nice and at the same time grow mushrooms that aren’t easily found in supermarkets, and they are exciting to see because some mushrooms can double in size 24 hours,” Martinez said. 

Martinez is building a website where people will be able to learn about and purchase these MycoGuru grow boxes. “The website is up and running, and should be released within the next month or two,” Martinez said. He plans to have the grow boxes for sale on other platforms such as Etsy and Amazon. 

Cordycep and lion’s mane mushroom spores colonizing into fully colonized grown mushroom culture in petri dishes. (Matthew Wetcher/SFMN)

Martinez said he is focused on producing and designing these grow boxes and providing a variety of edible mushrooms. These mushrooms include oyster, turkey-tail, lion’s mane, reishi, maitake, shitake, and cordyceps mushrooms. 

Martinez said people could have edible mushrooms in about seven days once the grow box is set up. He said oyster, maitake, shitake, and cordyceps mushrooms could grow extremely fast. “They are all super beneficial for your health and super tasty,” he said. 

“The lion’s mane mushroom is super expensive, so if you can grow it on your own and get a solid yield, you can just produce this constant cycle of mushrooms,” Martinez said. 

Martinez became fascinated with  fungi through the American mycologist and entrepreneur Paul Edward Stamets, who sells mushroom products through his company – Fungi Perfecti. 

Stamets is an author and advocate of medicinal fungi and mycoremediation. He has promoted his therapeutic mushroom brand Host Defense for years, and his products are found on Whole Foods supermarket shelves. Stamets says that mushrooms are a functional food that can boost immunity, support digestion, and reduce stress and fatigue. Stamets is involved with countless studies showcasing the health benefits of mushrooms on the human mind and body. 

Martinez listened to a podcast with Stamets, which inspired him to investigate fungi. 

Martinez began experimenting with growing mushrooms himself and decided to pursue mycology studies. 

“I remember that I wanted to create an automated grow box to grow my own mushrooms,” he said. Martinez decided to teach himself coding to build an automated system to grow mushrooms efficiently and effectively. 

“Exotic mushrooms are scarcely found in grocery stores, maybe in their powdered and supplement form but not in their raw natural form,” Martinez said. He realized that his grow boxes would be able to provide raw mushrooms to people in the comfort of their own homes. 

Using a 3D printer, Martinez designed the base of the grow box. He then coded an automated humidity system to keep the moisture conditions in balance for optimal mushroom growth. 

The LED logo designed by Martinez. (Matthew Wetcher/SFMN)

Martinez’s mother, Erika Abudei, said “He began to assemble and build this beautiful prototype and was suddenly designing, soldering, 3D printing, and constructing all day every day. He worked for hours, staying awake all night trying different models until he finally came up with the MycoGuru which surpassed my expectations. I can see how truly passionate he’s been about it and how excited he is to bring this idea into existence. I am so proud to see him executing the things he would say he would do.”

“If you are doing something that you love you are not really working and if you turn a passion into a career I feel like that is something very special that few people can say,” Martinez said. “I have so many visions of having my own commercial grow operation to provide for restaurants, markets, and create mushroom oriented products. I would like to also have a company that can teach people about the process of growing mushrooms and bring fungi into everyone’s daily life.”

Matthew Wetcher is a photographer and videographer, which began as an artistic fascination at an early age. Matthew ventured into digital journalism at Florida International University and is now fusing his passion for content creation with the art of storytelling. Matthew is also admired for his love of philosophy, music, and conscious living.