Ep 10: How the Rainforest Helped Build a $75MM Beverage Company - Chris Mann

This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, we speak with Chris Mann, CEO of Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate. Yerba Mate is a beverage native to South America that — as described by Chris — stimulates like coffee, heals like green tea, and gives a chocolate-like euphoria.

Guayaki’s global footprint has stretched well beyond distributing a consistent, high-quality product to retailers across the United States and Canada. In the podcast, Chris describes his company’s dedication to its core mission of restoring South American rainforests, explains how his product fuels that mission, and challenges entrepreneurs to think more broadly about solving both business and societal issues.

The Entruepreneurship Takeaway:

"The things that we feel are broken within society — we're going to paddle upstream against those, and we believe that, if we paddle upstream and bring enough people with us, then we can change the current."

Key Topics Discussed: 

6:03: Chris highlights the origins of the Guayaki brand, including the meaning of the Guayaki name, the importance of brand authenticity, and how his company remains committed to South American rainforest restoration.

9:00: Chris retells the humble beginnings of Guayaki, which grew from a community-building activity amongst friends to a small grassroots operation to a world-changing multi-national brand.                                                                                            

14:49: Chris describes how he and his team started selling their unique product in 1997 and how they “just took it to the people,” from California music festivals to farmers markets to in-store demos.

19:02: Chris revisits his company’s future goals, having surpassed its original goals well ahead of schedule. Chris explains how his business allows consumers to partner with Guayaki in its mission for rainforest restoration (and beyond!) and “vote with their dollars” by buying its unique product.

24:33: Chris retells the transformation of Guayaki’s business model from 1997 to the present, as it has widened its focus to include “seed to shelf and beyond.”

29:33: Chris describes the challenges of product distribution and how Guayaki endured a series of successes and failures to ultimately arrive at its current distribution model — a fleet of self-owned, electric vehicles.

34:29: Chris discusses what separates Guayaki from other Yerba Mate distributors in a category that will, no doubt, continue to grow.

38:16: Knowing what he knows now, the Chris of 2018 gives the Chris of 1997 some advice — be patient, be persistent, and stay open-minded. Trends ebb and flow, but if you remain focused on your core mission, you will endure for the long haul.

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