2013 / 5月
為了讓這項從未有人見過的產品，打入白領客群，黃舜麟和另兩名創業夥伴張欽龍、林政緯，以「菇」的諧音「good」試想過「Juice good」等不同品牌名稱，最後選定簡單易懂的「Just good就是菇」。同時，考慮到傳統花卉園藝盤商不易接受菇菌盆栽，黃舜麟決定放棄傳統通路，改以網路平台銷售。
Reducing Office Stress
Liu Yingfeng /photos courtesy of Chin Hung-hao /tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen
With the pace of life flowing ever faster, the need to deal with stress has become an inevitable part of the average office worker’s life. Many people immerse themselves in the placid world of nature to soothe their spirit; others prefer various types of sporting activity to relax body and soul on the weekends. But the root source remains: today’s office workers are spending at least eight to nine hours a day on the job, so how are they to cope with the rigorous demands of bosses—and often moody and grouchy colleagues?
Spring Wang, general manager of 104 Management Consultants, points out that because there seems to be no immediate solution for the current economic woes, and little hope for promotion or pay rises, many office workers are tending to spend money on things that are within their means and that can bring them some pleasure.
Digital pets and flip flap solar dancing flowers were just the thing for the average office desk a few years ago, but then with the emergence of Facebook, the social network game “Happy Farm” took over. In order to bring a little of the joys of nature into the workplace, office workers imagine themselves as virtual farmers.
Hearing a cry for help from those forced to spend their weekdays confined to an office, two bright young men each sensed an opportunity. Stanley Huang, born in the 1980s, applied his creative mind to a new venture: his company, Just Good, has transformed the simple mushroom from a food item usually found on one’s dinner plate into a novel item for the office desk designed to soothe troubled hearts and minds. The second young man, Mark Lee, comes from more than 10 years in the advertising industry. Responding to what he saw as the needs of office workers, he has created a popular online comic character called Mark. Stories featuring Mark depict common workplace situations, with office workers complaining in witty and satirical ways.
In September 2012, an article about growing mushrooms appeared quite unexpectedly among the usual articles posted on the Mobile 01 online forum, popular with white-collar workers and devoted mainly to discussions related to 3C products (computer, communication and consumer electronics). The article describes how the writer took delivery of a block of mushroom growing medium, packed in a small carton decorated with illustrations, and began watering it regularly. Amazingly, in less than two weeks, white, pink and golden-yellow mushrooms emerged. “After watching my mushrooms sprout, I couldn’t wait to get into the office each day to check their progress,” the writer explains excitedly.
This writer’s experience is part of a mushroom growing sensation in Taiwan, created by Stanley Huang. Originally working in an office environment as an engineer for Delta Electronics, Huang gradually became bored with the (lack of) life in his workplace. So despite his modest working experience of around four years, he well understood the desire of office workers to escape from their dreary office-bound existence. At the same time, he noticed that popular games on social networking sites were tending towards the agricultural: games like the formerly popular “Happy Farm,” or a more recent app called “Funghi Gardening Kit.” Both reflect the desire of people confined to an urban lifestyle, and especially to the daily grind of office life, to return to nature.Fun relieving stress
Huang grew up in the Wufeng District of Taichung, an area known for its mushroom farms, so during his childhood he would help his uncle to grow and harvest mushrooms. One day many years later, with all these thoughts in mind, he asked his uncle for some mushroom spawn to grow at home as an experiment. He was amazed to see that mushrooms emerged in just a few days, and the idea took root in his mind of transforming the mushroom from a simple dining table item, to one of stress relief on the office desk.
So one weekend in March 2012, Huang returned to his hometown to discuss developing various strains of fungi with his uncle. He eventually handed over the most difficult part of the work, identifying suitable fungi strains, to his uncle, a man with 30 years’ experience in the field. Huang also encouraged 100-odd of his friends and relatives to try growing mushrooms and record their growth. Three months later, he was in a position to make a shortlist of varieties from the 20 or more strains available for his purpose: the golden oyster mushroom, oyster mushroom, pearl mushroom (nameko), “sweetheart mushroom,” and jelly-ear fungus. With a good appreciation of the psychology of office workers, who tend to appreciate fast results, Huang adjusted the proportions of the growing medium, using materials like sawdust, rice bran, calcium carbonate, and wheat chaff, cutting the growing period from a month to between seven and 14 days.Appealing to white-collar workers
With a degree from the Department of Business Administration, National Taipei University (NTPU), and also an MBA from Clemson University in the US, Huang has made good use of his marketing expertise in transforming mushroom farming into a fun activity for desk-bound office workers.
Huang invited fellow NTPU alumnus Lin Zhengwei, who runs a marketing design company, to create hand-painted illustrations for the mushroom growing cartons. With six simple and easy-to-understand illustrations to assist, office workers are able to learn the process of growing mushrooms in an entertaining and novel way.
Just Good’s website attracted the attention of well-known blogger Jhai Nyu Siao Hong. She ordered the product and fell in love with the experience: “The mushrooms are so cute, and I love being able to experience being a farmer at home.” With her seal of approval on the project, many visitors have followed, resulting in a mushroom growing boom.
Just Good launched its products onto the market three months earlier than scheduled at the end of August 2012, selling more than 8000 packages in the first month and reaching break-even. Just two months after the launch, Huang was able to resign from his engineering job to focus on his new business. Today, Just Good’s average monthly sales total around 5,000–10,000 packages, with a monthly turnover of NT$1 million.A hot topic in the workplace
Office worker WaWa recorded every moment of her mushroom growing experience on the Just Good website: “That day there was a stack of things waiting for me to deal with, so I had totally forgotten about the mushrooms. But when I saw my desk with the fungi suddenly grown into five beautiful milky-white mushrooms, I was amazed. The fact that they had sprung up overnight had also attracted attention from colleagues and we chatted about their progress—I felt very satisfied with my miniature farm, and not a little flattered.”
“Unlike smartphone games that tend to separate people from others around them, growing mushrooms involves planting, watering and harvesting and often leads to an interesting discussion. It enhances the atmosphere in the office and tends to alleviate any stress,” says Huang. Unlike virtual gardening games, raising real mushrooms doesn’t have a rulebook. Each grower has their own individual touch, producing mushrooms that are different in appearance and in how quickly they grow. More particularly, growers gain a great sense of personal accomplishment. Who would have thought that the fashion for growing mushrooms would become one of the latest ways to relieve stress at work?