Teen’s Unusual Hobby Turns into a Million Dollar Business
And no, it’s not a tech startup.
Four years ago, 19-year-old Ian Purkayastha had an obsession, foraging for wild mushrooms in the woods of Arkansas. A few years later, he tried truffle ravioli, and that is when his story unfolds.
Young Ian fell in love with truffles, so much so that he began ordering black truffles from a French distributor. To help pay for the steep cost of his unusually sophisticated palate, Ian started selling some of his supply to local chefs.
When he saw the high demand, Ian, at the age of 16, convinced Italian distributor P.A.Q. Gubbio to make him their North American distributor. And while all his peers finished high school, Ian went in the truffle business. “What I didn’t realize is they didn’t have any preexisting clients in the US. Basically I did everything to build the company from the ground up,” he recalled.
And how does it feel to be a teen in the midst of all these top chefs? “I try not to disclose my age too often,” he says. “When I was first starting out a few chefs wouldn’t give me the light of day.”
With over a million dollars in sales and 3 new sales reps, we’re pretty sure that Ian (and his stomach) are doing quite well.