Honest Tea – Behind The Biz

Today I’m here to share a rather exciting Behind The Biz interview with you. For those of you who’re new around here, Behind The Biz is an interview series where I discover small and growing businesses, the people behind them and their business journey.

Today’s interview is with Seth Goldman, the co-founder of the top-selling US organic tea brand, Honest Tea. I was delighted to hear that this summer Honest Tea launched here in the UK. I hope you enjoy finding out more about Seth and his business journey.


All photos in this post are by Tom Griffiths for Honest Tea

Please tell us about your business.

We make and market organic and sustainably grown drinks that taste “Just a Tad Sweet.”

Where did the inspiration for Honest Tea come from?

It started in the classroom at the Yale School of Management, where my professor, Barry Nalebuff, and I converged on the idea of creating a line of less-sweet line drinks. I graduated from business school in 1995 and went to work for an investment company. After giving an investment presentation in New York in 1997 I went for a run in Central Park. When I tried to buy a drink after the run, I realised there was still nothing on the shelf that was going to satisfy me. I reached out to Barry, and he became my co-founder!

How did you decide upon the name of your brand?

Barry came up with it at a tea auction in India – it is a brilliant name – a gift that keeps on giving!


What did you do before starting Honest Tea?

I was always involved in mission-driven enterprises… politics, non-profit, and then socially-conscious mutual funds.

Did you always plan to be self-employed?

I always envisioned myself starting something – I wouldn’t have guessed that it would be a for-profit company, let alone a beverage company!

What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?

For the first ten years we struggled mightily to get distribution – we literally begged distributors to carry our drinks – they all said we weren’t sweet enough, or we were too expensive, or tasted like grass.

What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?

Bringing on Coca-Cola as an investor has transformed our business from a few folks in Bethesda, Maryland to a global company with the potential to democratize organic drinks.


What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?

It’s a great way for us to build direct connections with our passionate consumers. I’ve recently started my own account on Twitter (@HonestSeth), and it’s been a fun way to interact with mission-driven consumers and entrepreneurs.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

The first thing I would do is encourage them to read the book Barry and I published in 2013, Mission in a Bottle – it contains all the lessons and mistakes we learned building Honest Tea. Plus, it’s a comic book, so it’s really fun to read! Then I would tell them to find something they are personally passionate about, because even if the enterprise doesn’t work out, they will be working on something meaningful.


Where do you hope to take your business in 2016?

We are so thrilled to launch Honest Tea in the UK. We are committed to making that work. We’re also excited to see Honest Tea continue to flourish in the United States.

Support Honest Tea over on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and Pinterest. You can also find Seth on Twitter.

Thank you so much to Seth for taking the time to be involved with Behind The Biz. I hope you all enjoyed the interview as much as I did.  I urge you all to go and give Honest Tea a try, it’s so good. I think Pomegranate & Blueberry is my favourite but I really do enjoy them all. Honest Tea have a strong and solid mission and I find that important with any brand I support.

If you fancy getting involved with Behind The Biz please send me an email or drop me a message over on Twitter.