While Honest Tea is a health-conscious brand that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in stores everywhere, no one could have imagined that a drink with less sugar would enjoy such mass appeal. CEO Seth Goldman sat down with Bold’s Dr. Woody to talk about the challenges that he faced growing his company in a world where it can sometimes be hard to get consumers to embrace healthy items.
Social entrepreneurs face challenges that conventional businessmen typically don’t have to encounter. There’s little doubt that trying to make a difference in people’s lives while turning a buck definitely isn’t the easiest way to succeed in business. Like other social entrepreneurs, Goldman founded Honest Tea as a “mission driven” brand, aimed at improving lifestyles that have led to poor public health.
“If you look at the trends, they’re not headed in the right direction,” Goldman said. “Even though the United States is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, and even though we have more advanced knowledge of science and medicine, we’re ranked number 40 in life expectancy. That says a lot about our lifestyles.”
Goldman saw society going in the wrong direction as a huge business opportunity. Honest Tea sought out to make their products healthy and delicious, using organic and low-sugar ingredients. At the time, that was a bold move, as many doubted the marketability of a product that wasn’t as sweet as its competitors. Since then, Honest Tea has enjoyed remarkable growth, and was eventually purchased by one of the whales in the industry.
While Honest Tea was bought by Coca-Cola in 2011, Goldman said that the company’s principles have not been compromised by the take-over. “The idea of building a mission-driven brand is still what we’re about,” Goldman said. He believes that teaming up with Coca-Cola has helped the brand get to the next level, because Coca-Cola is the biggest partner with the best distribution channels available. “We made our item as widely available as possible,” Goldman said.
Goldman is a self-described activist, who believes that business has to be the driver of change in America. “Let’s say I set up a campaign to get Coca-Cola to sell organic products or to sell lower-calorie drinks, and I boycotted or protested in front of the building, it would have fallen on deaf ears. A better way he said, was to work with the company.” In the end, he’s succeeded in getting Coca-Cola to sell hundreds of millions of organic and low-sugar products to consumers around the world.
Goldman said many business opportunities exist in the same space where he grew Honest Tea. He strongly believes that companies that can change the world hold a great deal of promise for growth. “We have to look for the spaces where we have the chance to change our trajectory in a better way–that’s got to be a great space for a business.”
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is an organizational psychologist, CEC certified executive coach, and founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI). He is author of the Amazon top selling career book The YOU Plan and is currently on faculty at the Institute for Management Studies where he has trained managers from such companies as BOSE, Verizon, and the NBA. Dr. Woody also serves as an advisor to the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year and Entrepreneurial Winning Women programs. He is also a thought leader in the IBM Smarter Workforce Futurist program.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.