7 Start-up Success Stories

Clayton Christopher, David Smith, Sweet Leaf Tea
Courtesy Company
4 of 7

Clayton Christopher, co-founder of Sweet Leaf Tea

COMPANY: Sweet Leaf Tea
CO-FOUNDERS: Clayton Christopher, 36; David Smith, 36  
LOCATION: Austin
2008 REVENUE: $12 million
EMPLOYEES: 47
START-UP YEAR: 1998
START-UP COSTS: About $3,000 for rudimentary manufacturing equipment; $3,000 for a secondhand van; $1,000 for a computer and printer  
BREAKEVEN: Third year out on revenue of $300,000
BIGGEST EXPENSE: Offering samples at events and stores
QUALIFICATIONS: Grandma’s secret brewing technique
RED TAPE: The Texas Department of State Health Services required $3,000 worth of modifications to Christopher’s site, including construction of a small wooden brewing and bottling facility within the larger warehouse space. The FDA required he submit products to a lab to create nutrition panels.