Entrepreneur Spotlight- Nancy Rosborough, Mycorrhiza Biotech

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Description automatically generated                                                                        City of Burlington 

Economic Development Department

March 24, 2021

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Nancy Rosborough

Producing an estimated 200 pounds of truffles in a country that has struggled in every region to produce, even a handful, of truffles should surely warrant recognition. Mycorrhiza Biotech is an agri-business that specializes in fungi and allied organisms to develop products, tools and services for diverse agricultural applications that help America’s farms and forests thrive. Nancy Rosborough, the Chief Executive Officer, is this month’s Entrepreneur Spotlight! 

Hailing from Washington, D.C.-- Nancy has roots in North Carolina, as her mother grew up in Alamance County on the farm that Nancy currently manages and grows truffles. After graduating from Howard University, Nancy began working in Corporate America. Yet, she understood that she always had an inkling that entrepreneurship suited her preferences more. When recounting her childhood experiences, Nancy fondly remembers her time on the farm and the joy that cultivating the land brought her. She pursued farming and merged her corporate experiences with her love of nature. 

A person standing next to a tractor

Description automatically generatedThe family farm has been owned and operated by Nancy’s family since the 1800s. Nancy explains: “what used to be farms and dirt roads has begun turning into subdivisions. I wanted to keep the farm going as the surrounding community urbanized. I spent all my summers on the farm and had nothing but good memories there.” She knew she wasn’t interested in dairy or tobacco (farming), and so after her mom sent her an article on truffles-- Nancy decided to start her truffle farming journey by purchasing seedlings from a vendor in Oregon.  

Like every other successful entrepreneur, Nancy recognized the risk and continued to persevere. There’s so much risk associated with truffle farming because “you plant them and wait 10-15 years before you have a crop. Coming from strategic planning and risk management in Corporate America, I knew it was critical to address the risks associated with truffle farming.” In this case the risk involved the confirming the types of trees, ensuring the “right” fungus colonized the roots, analyzing the initial condition of the soil, and ensuring the ongoing viability of the fungus and soil. She started Mycorrhiza to address those risks, and help farmers produce truffles.  

Any farmers with at least five acres and some farming experience who are looking to save their land or just recently acquired land are ideal customers for Mycorrhiza Biotech’s services. Currently, they have clients in production growing truffles; they also conduct analysis work, seedling certifications, fertilizer work contracts, and produce their own seedlings. Nancy’s company is fully self-funded with little debt. Mycorrhiza Biotechnology employs three full-time and two part-time employees, and the team is looking to expand this year to hire additional full-time employees and interns.  

As the CEO, Nancy has a range of daily responsibilities—like strategic planning, farm and greenhouse operations management, finance, laboratory oversight, marketing, and stewarding contracts. With such a diverse background of professional experience, not much intimidates Nancy in the process of business development and growth. She says, “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” She recognizes the importance of hiring the right people who understand the nature of R&D and the importance of trial and error. “I know people on my team that can fix any mistakes we can make.” 

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Nancy leaves the wisdom to set goals, and whatever business you pick make sure it aligns with your heart’s desires-- something that is important to you at your core. If the business wasn’t tied to agriculture and the farm, I would've been gone.” She also highlights the importance of finding a good partner who will “stay the course and someone you can trust, knowing you're going in the same direction (if you have partner). If you go alone, set up board of directors right away to have advisors. You’ll need great business analysts because you need someone who has no clue what you're doing to bring in a different perspective.”