Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Honest Tea with Co-founder Seth Goldman

One of characteristics that successful venture should have is its value proposition to solve a customer’s problem. When customers realize that existing products do not satisfy their needs, entrepreneurs can step in and provide products and services that can solve the problem. Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest Tea, recently came to Babson’s campus and recounted his entrepreneurial venture.


Goldman is an active individual. He drinks lots of liquid. However, products available in the market were too sweet to drink, often bring unpleasant feelings to people like Goldman. Not having previous knowledge of the beverage industry, especially tea, Goldman decided to explore. Goldman teamed up with his professor from graduate school. The professor, who later became co-founder of Honest Tea, studied the tea industry in India. Working with reliable partner, Goldman started from the scratch, expanding his network with a bottle supplier, label supplier, and even with a beer supplier.

One of the most astonishing facts that stimulated his entrepreneurial spirit was people’s lack of knowledge of healthy food and beverage. For example, the United States is the wealthiest country in the world with the most advanced technology. Yet the country’s life expectancy is ranked number four. Goldman acknowledged that he needs to step up and needs to change consumption in a sustainable way. In addition to provide healthier drink to more people, he also wants to give back to the agricultural community who can’t afford premium products.

Honest Tea was launched in 1998 with specific missions in mind. When Honest Tea was first introduced, many distributors complained that the beverage was not sweet enough. Reflecting on this information, Goldman added more sugar, resulting 17 kcal to 30 kcal per bottle. It was still a third amount of what competitors used. Although the company needed to compromise a little bit in order to grow, its mission has driven business consistently over years. Getting distributors and positive comments from consumers are stimulators that push Honest Tea to keep working hard. Honest Tea has now become one of the major organic tea producers. Goldman summed up his story with some advice: “For entrepreneurs who are going a different direction than competitors, there is opportunity.”