brewing honest tea


Seth Goldman was thirsty, and all he wanted was a beverage that was less sweet than soda but still flavorful. At the time (in the mid to late ’90s), there didn’t seem to be a product on the market that fit the bill. A light bulb went on. Mr. Goldman discussed the idea with his business school professor, Barry Nalebuff of the Yale School of Management, and together they came up with Honest Tea—a brand of low-sugar bottled tea made with organic ingredients. The pair launched the Bethesda, Md., company in 1998, and by touting some home-brewed tea in thermoses, soon landed their first account with Whole Foods. A decade later, Coca-Cola Co. bought a 40% stake, opening up new distribution channels. Today, Honest Tea has 130 employees—up from just 23 in 2006—and posted 2009 revenue of $47 million.

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