Teen’s Unlikely Million-dollar Business

March 22, 2012 by staff 

Teen’s Unlikely Million-dollar Business, Teen’s unlikely million-dollar business, P.A.Q Gubbio: Meet, Ian Purkayastha, 19-year-old “Truffle Dealer”, A meal at a restaurant sends a kid from Arkansas in pursuit of a rare — and lucrative — delicacy. In the digital age, most of today’s young, hot-shot entrepreneurs are working in the world of high tech, specifically in social networking. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams come to mind.

Then there’s Ian Purkayastha, a 19-year old international businessman who’s “networking” the old-fashioned way — face to face — and making a big splash selling and promoting one of the world’s most ancient and low-tech products: Truffles. To be sure, there aren’t billions to be made in truffles, at least not yet. But truffles are by far the most-expensive ingredient in the culinary world, fetching up to $5000 per pound for the most desired varieties.

Truffles may be used in the world’s top restaurants but there’s nothing fancy about the truffle business. Truffles are subterranean fungi typically harvested in the wild or from specially planted groves with the aid of trained pigs or, more recently, dogs. It’s a dirty business, literally and figuratively: Truffles must be dug up and, especially in Europe, the black market for high-end truffles really is “black”: dealers have been known to kill their rival’s dogs.

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