It was a rainy Thursday afternoon when I was welcomed into a cosy two-bedroom flat in Pasir Ris. It seemed like a typical family home preparing for Christmas, but that impression held only until my host, Mr Ryan Ong, showed me how one of the bedrooms was being used.

A bed and an ironing board are the typical items one would expect to find in a spare bedroom, but the 10 sq m space was also taken up by a lab-grade biosafety cabinet, a makeshift humidifier, and a black floor-to-ceiling tent filled with mushrooms bursting out of plastic bags.

I was not expecting what I saw, and this showed on my face. Mr Ong said: “I guess this is where it all started.”

The “it” would be Fogo Fungi, a Singapore-based agritech start-up incorporated in May 2023 of which he is the chief executive and a co-founder. He and his co-founders, Mr Jonathan Chen, 28, and Mr Felix-Constantin Dorner, 29, started experimenting with growing mushrooms in Mr Chen’s spare bedroom in February 2023.