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How this mushroom-beverage entrepreneur got hesitant passersby to try his mushroom-based drinks.

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This story appears in the December 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

One summer night in 2017, a friend texted me at 1 a.m. with some news. A chocolate company she knew was leaving its retail space on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Calif. Did I want to take over the remaining three years of the lease? she asked. I replied instantly: Yes!

Courtesy of Four Sigmatic

The next morning, I told my team about my decision … sort of. “We’re doing a fun little thing,” I said, trying to make it seem light and easy and not costly or work-intensive. I didn’t want to spook them; I’m definitely the risk-taker of the group. But in truth, I’d committed us to a lot of unknowns. We were an online-focused business trying to get Americans to drink mushroom tea. That alone is a tough task. Now we were about to go retail for the first time -- on the hottest (read: expensive) street in L.A. And I wanted to use this space to operate a “Shroom Room,” a sort of a café where everyone gets complimentary ’shrooms.

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