Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Honest Tea Creator Shares Passion

When he began his ascent up the corporate ladder from his kitchen to a partnership with Coca-Cola Inc., Chief Executive Officer of Honest Tea Seth Goldman had a basic skill set to work with.

“My experience was that I drank beverages,” Goldman said jokingly to an audience of about 50 people early Monday evening in Lohrfink Auditorium as part of the McDonough School of Business Distinguished Leaders Series.

In 1998, Goldman launched Honest Tea with the help of one of his professors from Yale, Barry Nalebuff. He got the idea to go forward with the idea of a tea company after a run through Central Park one day when he realized that there were no beverages he wanted to drink, and he wanted to have a hand in changing that.

His first sale was to Fresh Fields, a precursor to Whole Foods. The deal began when the duo brought five thermoses of their homemade tea and an empty Snapple bottle to a meeting with the organic foods grocer.

Goldman recalled feeling somewhat inadequate to the challenge before him, but at the end of the meeting, Whole Foods asked the pair to make 15,000 bottles of the beverage in two months – a daunting task that they managed to fulfill.

The first intern to help this new company was MSB alumna Beth Bracken, who helped move the 1998 office from Goldman’s bedroom to an office in town.

Goldman emphasized to the audience the need for divergent thinking and an innovative spirit. “Find something you care about and take it in another direction,” he said. “If you do, you’ll be passionate and relentless.”

Honest Tea now has over 70,000 outlets and is produced in three Coca-Cola facilities. The company has had a 60 percent annual compound growth since 1998.

Goldman said that the attempt to incorporate health and wellness, environmental consciousness, and social response into a brand by using all-natural ingredients will soon become something that consumers will expect companies to do.

He closed his talk with words of encouragement not only to business majors, but to all students in attendance.

“If you have a compelling idea, you’ll get an opportunity,” Goldman said. “Remember, it’s not a sprint. It’s an endurance [race]. We’re building something long term.”

Angela Damiano, an MSB graduate student, found Goldman’s words of wisdom helpful.

“I found it to be really interesting and informative. I heard about the [partnership] with Coke and I wanted to see what his side of the story was,” she said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *