Make your best pitch to be on the list.
I should be on the 30 Under 30 List because... I am changing the age-old category of tea and disrupting the age-old industry of grocery. My company is changing tea by using all-natural fruits, herbs and spices to enhance the taste, smell, function and appearance of tea. We focus on two things that the Millennial consumer cares about: Function and Flavor. All of our teas are broken down into five categories: Energizer, Slenderizer, Immunity, Eternity and Relaxer--making it simple and appealing for any consumer to dive into tea. We also create dynamite flavor profiles like Banana Split, Fruity Pebbles and Fireberry to give people fun and familiar flavors to choose from. We won a business plan competition in 2010 at the University of Illinois, and we took the grant money to invest in our packaging. Our packaging is the first in the world to use UV-ray protected windows to protect the tea inside and give consumers visibility to the real ingredients we use. Forbes recognized us as Peoples' Choice for Most Innovative Consumer Brand. We also won Best New Product of 2011 at World Tea Expo. My company is changing grocery by using social technology and social media to change how consumers shop and how buyers buy. It's common in the grocery industry to pay for shelf space, or slotting fees. We've been able to get away from all slotting charges due to the innovative targeted marketing we do through social platforms and DropIN mobile phone advertising. Tiesta Tea is currently in 3,500 grocery stores nationwide.
Who else thinks you're awesome?
Jimmy John Liautaud, CEO, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sub Sandwiches; Steve Kaplan, serial entrepreneur, two-time NYT best-selling author, Bag the Elephant; Brad Keywell, Founder, Groupon; Tom Walter, CEO, Tasty Catering; Nick Sarillo, CEO, Nick's Pizza and Pub; Raman Chadha, Founder, Depaul University Coleman Center for Entrepreneurs; Luol Deng, NBA Small Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers; Dan Malina, Former VP of M&A, General Mills; Dr. John Clarke, Director of Entrepreneurship, Tulane University; Crimson Investment Partners, Angel investor group of 23 Harvard MBA Execs; Hyde Park Angels, Tiesta Tea turned down an offer from them.
Does your company have a social mission? If so, describe it.
Not quite yet. However we've created a partnership with Green Purpose, a local Illinois recycling company, to collect all our tin cans. We spend $100,000+ every year on metal, so we're creating a program with Green Purpose to recycle the metal and build parks and playgrounds in our local communities.
What are you passionate about other than your business?
I am passionate about anything that has to do with entrepreneurship, networking and core values. I didn't know I was an entrepreneur until I learned what entrepreneurship was. And now I can't stop thinking of business ideas. Business #2 has already been incorporated ;) I frequently participate in entrepreneur groups and speak to universities across Illinois to share my entrepreneurial passion. If I can do it, anyone can! I'm also passionate about people and networking. I believe that life only gets easier and more opportunistic when you surround yourself with great people. I try and meet new people everyday to learn from and network with. It's important to me to build one of the most connected entrepreneurial networks in the world. I also believe that the implementation and practice of company core values is the difference between successful companies and unsuccessful ones. Those companies that understand and practice their core values have a much higher employee engagement at work and generally have much less turnover. These companies also gain much praise from surrounding communities for being so moral and ethical.