Brandeis International Business School

013: Creating Your Own Entrepreneurial Curriculum

If something doesn't exist, create it

Seth Goldman is a change maker in the food industry. He did it first with Honest Tea, the organic and fair-trade beverage brand he launched out of his house in 1998 with co-founder Barry Nalebuff, which was then acquired by the Coca-Cola Company.

Today, Seth continues to play a role with the company as “TeaEO Emeritus,” but has also taken on an additional role as Executive Chairman of Beyond Meat, a fast-growing, plant-based protein that's redefining the way we eat meat.

From the Dorm Room

Seth attended Harvard College, but he didn’t necessarily have the traditional college experience. He wasn’t obsessed with academics or partying every weekend, but he certainly kept busy: he was on the track team, played music, took a role in student government, got involved with political organizations, taught English abroad and more.

It was “just a buzz of activity the whole time, and I realized that all of that activity was really preparation for being an entrepreneur,” even though that wasn’t his goal at the time. He was getting used to the idea of multitasking, interacting with a lot of different people, and engaging with a variety of important issues. So, almost by accident, it really was an entrepreneurial college experience.

To the Boardroom

Seth ran track in college, and when you run a lot, you're thirsty a lot. But he was always dissatisfied with the refreshment options for athletes, and that idea really crystallized in graduate school, when he attended the Yale School of Management.

His professor, Barry Nalebuff, tasked the class with doing a case study of the beverage industry, and he asked if there was anything missing. Especially back in 1995, any sports drink was super sweet or watery. Barry and Seth talked about trying to do something about this opportunity, but as a student in his second year of business school, Seth was focused on trying to get a job.

But, after Seth graduated and worked two-and-a-half years with an investment company, he went for a run and got thirsty again. This time, however, he realized he was ready to do something about it.

So, he got in touch with Barry, and he was still excited about the idea, and he had actually just come back from studying the tea industry in India, where he came up with the name Honest Tea.

So Seth left his job in the investment world to launch Honest Tea in his house. Then, he managed to get an appointment with the local Whole Foods buying office in Maryland. He brewed up some thermoses of tea in his kitchen, put a label on an empty Snapple bottle, and brought it to the buyer – who then ordered 15,000 bottles! “So, we were in business.”

Looking back, it isn’t going to the Yale School of Business that Seth cites as the thing that prepared him for being an entrepreneur – it was that buzz of extracurricular activities he engaged with in undergrad.

A lot of college students today want to be entrepreneurs, want to create something, and they assume that that the only way to prepare yourself to be an entrepreneur is by working for an entrepreneurial company. But Seth teaches us that the best way to prepare yourself to do entrepreneurial things is by putting yourself in unfamiliar situations and figuring out how to cope and how to navigate, or going into a country or community you don’t know and building your own networks – that's an entrepreneurial curriculum!

So don’t limit yourself. Don’t put yourself in one box and only engage with people who are also in that box. Get out there, do things that you’ve never done before, meet people that you’ve never met, and get comfortable with new things. That’s going to serve you well as an entrepreneur, and college is a great place to get that type of education.


Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Stitcher


Follow @FromTheDormRoom
on Twitter  

Share Your Thoughts

Connect With Us