Video: Building Sweet Leaf Tea

Building a company, balancing the way investment can help it grow, and finally selling it off – it’s a process every entrepreneur needs to consider, and one that was addressed directly during BevNET Live by Clayton Christopher, the founder of Sweet Leaf Tea, Michael Farello, a partner at Catterton Partners, and William Pearson, the CFO of Nestle Waters North America.

The three executives presented a case study on Sweet Leaf’s process to an eager audience, imparting lessons for startups and veteran companies alike. They split up the heavy lifting three ways, followed by discussion. Today we’re going to take a look at the scrappy attitude demanded at the early stages of a beverage startup, as personified by Christopher’s observation that “if you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not always black-and-white… we had to make decisions between making payroll and paying product liability insurance or car insurance.”

According to Christopher, characteristics that help build a strong startup include a never-quit attitude, a strong company (although not corporate!) culture and a strong focus on strategic goals.

“Around our board meetings, we had more focus on how we were tracking against strategic initiatives rather than against just financials,” Christopher said.

Hear the rest of what Clayton Christopher had to say about the early days of Sweet Leaf Tea – now owned by Nestle Waters North America – in the following video from BevNET Live 2011 in Santa Monica. BevNET will be releasing the other two presentations – and the discussion that ensued — in the next few days.