Founders of Honest Tea and Runa Discuss Mission in the Beverage Business

Barry Nalebuff (left) and Tyler Gage

One of the challenges we faced was reconciling the mission and origin story [of our product] with the [realities of the] beverage business. We were excited about the innovation, the sourcing [of guayusa, the Amazonian rainforest leaf from which Runa is made]—that’s what makes us excited. As for the consumers, some were excited about that mission, but it’s not as scalable at the gas station. So, we got this simple idea of marketing ‘clean energy’ and saying that this is an organic energy drink. I think that simplicity of messaging is a more scalable methodology for consumer awareness. Tyler Gage, founder of Runa, a company that produces an eponymous energy drink made from the guayusa leaf,
and author of Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life

In the end, you’ll have zero social impact if you don’t have any sales. First and foremost, the product has to taste great, and the story is a bonus—it’s consistent with who you are, but if it’s all about the story, I think it’s very hard to have the impact you want. Barry Nalebuff, cofounder of Honest Tea and Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at Yale SOM

About the Event

Barry Nalebuff and Tyler Gage, the respective founders of two leading beverage companies, Honest Tea and Runa, will discuss their journeys as entrepreneurs and how their companies have created disruption in the U.S. beverage industry. They will discuss challenges they faced launching and exiting their companies, along with current innovation trends in the food and beverage industry and the opportunities for social entrepreneurship in this space.

The event is co-hosted by Yale Center for Business and the Environment, the Yale SOM Program on Entrepreneurship, and the Entrepreneurship Club