We hear that Obama is bringing fresh change to the White House. Perhaps least, the NYTimes reports, is the change of preferred Presidential drink: Honest Tea.
Honest Tea (Horrible Flash Website warning) was co-founded by Yale Professor Barry NaleBuff, with a former student of his, Seth Goldman. They were appalled at the sickly sweet unhealthy iced tea being sold in the USA, and so decided to do something about it. Honest Tea was launched in 1998 with very low sugar high quality organic iced tea. (Barry is the co-author of some really interesting business game theory books, including Thinking Strategically, Coopetition and Why Not? I recommend them all.)
I am also an ex-student of Barry Nalebuff’s, and was in class in late 1997 shortly after he came back from his first big tea research trip to India. Barry spent that two hour lecture dressed in a salwar kameez and presenting and pouring on the rich subject of tea. A couple of days later we applied the case study method to the tea business. Or was it the beverage business? Whatever it was the real world results have paid off – Honest Tea now has Coca-Cola distribution (Coke also has a minority equity stake) and sells millions of dollars worth of tea each month. This in spite of co=founder Seth saying that “Barry had a reputation as a cold-calling, occasionally heartless egghead who was a genius with numbers and strategy and less adept with interpersonal skills.” on the HonestTea Blog.
Another ex Student of Profesor Nalebuff’s is Gisborne raised Doug Hastie, who coincidentally was, and is still, also a tea fanatic. Doug got the same tea lecture from Prof. Nalebuff a couple of years after me, and it accelerated his own thinking – Why were Kiwis satisfied with drinking lousy tea? So after a year at Goldman Sachs in New York Doug decided to return to New Zealand, and to set about improving the quality of the tea that we drink here.
Doug saw that over the years the quality of tea that Kiwis drink had descended from high quality large tea leaves contained in sealed tea chests, to poor quality tea dust contained in cheap paper bags. It’s little wonder that coffee had made such inroads into what was once an almost exclusively tea drinking culture.
Doug made his own pilgrimages to India, Sri Lanka, China and Japan, selected the high grade teas and suppliers, and result is the Chai Tea range. The range has been on the supermarket shelves for a few years now, and you can even buy them online.
So – President Barack Obama drinks Professor Barry Nalebuff’s tea, Nalebuf inspired Doug Hastie to launch New Zealand’s Chai Tea, and you can buy Chai Tea all around New Zealand. So what are you waiting for – support Obama today!
(I am an investor in Chai, and so clearly biased – but the story is true. Chai Tea really is the best on the shelves and Doug’s own story is even more remarkable)