Tyler Gage | CoFounder and CEO of RUNA Tea, Award Winning Entrepreneur

Tyler Gage

CoFounder and CEO of RUNA Tea, Award Winning Entrepreneur

Tyler Gage

his award-winning entrepreneur speaks with heart, cutting insight and unflinching determination about how to achieve and innovate when you're out of your comfort zone. From leading a start-up through acquisition to serving on the Board of Directors of a publicly-traded company, Tyler uses his diverse experience to share potent insights about how to thrive at the edge and get results in unexpected, challenging environments.

Since the age of 19, Tyler has been studying native plants and languages with indigenous elders in the Amazon rainforest. After graduating from Brown University, Tyler turned down a Fulbright grant to start RUNA, a social enterprise that makes clean energy drinks with guayusa, a rare Amazonian leaf, and improves livelihoods for thousands of indigenous farming families in Ecuador. With the help of investors like Channing Tatum and Leonardo DiCaprio, Runa has become a thriving, multimillion-dollar company and was acquired by VitaCoco in June of 2018.
Tyler was named a Forbes "30 Under 30 Entrepreneur" and winner of both the Big Apple Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Specialty Food Association's Citizen Leader of the Year Award. CBS This Morning, ABC Nightline, National Geographic and Richard Branson's book "Screw Business As Usual" have all featured Tyler for his unique and powerful approach to building businesses and creating social good.

In his book "Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business & Life," Tyler demonstrates how we can dig deeper to bring greater meaning and purpose to our personal and professional pursuits.

Tyler currently serves as a Managing Director for Terrafertil, the largest natural foods in Latin America, and has worked as the Chief Development Officer for the company. Terrafertil acquired Essential Living Foods in the US in 2017 and then Nestle acquired all of Terrafertil in 2018.

Tyler also serves on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Brown University and advises, invests in and supports other start-ups. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and daughter, and enjoys backpacking, riding his unicycle and practicing yoga.

Tyler Gage
Featured Videos

Current: The Secrets of the Amazon

Time 04:48

More Videos From Tyler Gage

The Secrets of the Amazon
Time 04:48
Channing Tatum, Tyler, and the RUNA Story: ABC Nightline
Time 07:40
Good Life Project
Time 38:39
2011 Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneur
Time 01:14

Tyler Gage
Featured Keynote Programs

Mission and Impact “From the Inside Out”

Tyler draws on his diverse experience working with start-ups and large multinationals to show how organizations can dig deeper into their history, culture and operations to unlock sources of purpose that can fuel growth, engagement, and profit.
Challenging the norms and expectations around traditional Corporate Social Responsibility, Tyler dispels misconceptions about how social responsibility "should be done” and offers an enlivening perspective about to build impact into the nuts and bolts of an organization. Translating lessons from working with both indigenous communities and large companies alike, Tyler shares practical tools to help leaders build impact and engagement into the "blood" of their organization (through incentive programs, meetings structures, hiring practices etc.) and also the "bones" of the organization (reporting structures, legal entities, equity structures, and investment models).

Fierce Collaboration
Lessons from the power of the Amazon

Immersing himself in the native cultures of the Amazon, Tyler grew from an introverted linguistics researcher to an award-winning CEO of one of the hottest beverage companies in the country. He recognized that a unique spirit of collaboration and exchange is central to what gives indigenous communities the ability to not only survive, but to thrive in one of the most lethal ecosystems in the world. Tyler applied these lessons to building his first company into a 70-person organization that supports over 3,000 farming families, and has continued to apply these same principles as an advisor to large multinational companies.

The combination of "fierce" and "collaboration” might seem like a total contradiction, and the very idea of collaboration can be at odds with the competitiveness that often seeps into growing organizations.

Tyler's definition of Fierce Collaboration is not some aggressive mandate to collaborate, but a willingness to bring deeper pieces of ourselves into our shared spaces and use a more diverse skill set to engage in constructive dialog.

Key lessons Tyler shares about next-generation collaboration:

• Deep Listening: Amazonian hunters can prowl through the rainforest together with incredible synchronicity. They actively cultivate an ability to listen to more than the obvious forms of communication. Great leaders do the same thing, and Tyler shows how to use a broader range of communication tools to access richer insights.

• Make it personal: We’re quickly leaving the age when expressions like “don’t take it personally,” rule the world. Tyler shows the enduring strength that comes from shared struggles and vulnerable communication within a team, and offers a range of tools, like asking low assumption questions, to guide leaders and managers in this direction.

Navigating Chaos
Setting Strategy and Driving Profit through Uncertain Times

Growing an organization is like being thrust into the middle of the Amazon rainforest – living every day on the edge of your comfort zone, vulnerable to the unexpected challenges constantly being thrown your way. From founding and leading a start-up through acquisition to serving on the Board of Directors of a publicly traded company at age 31, Tyler’s path has required a unique craft to approach challenging environments at every turn.

This award-winning entrepreneur speaks with heart, cutting insight and unflinching determination about how to achieve and innovate when faced with a new challenge. Tyler shares potent insights and practical tools from his experience about how to thrive at the edge and get real, measurable results in unexpected, challenging environments.

Key lessons Tyler shares about creative problem solving:

• Calculus, Not Statistics: To think like an entrepreneur, you have to believe in calculus, not statistics. In other words, you must have complete conviction that there is an answer for everything, that you will find it, and that no matter what, things are going to work. Without that certitude, the challenges will be too big and you will just be overwhelmed.

• Embrace obstacles as teachers: Rather than seeing difficulties or impasses as "a problem," relating to them as sources of education is often the most important change in perspective that unlocks the solution needed.

• Value intuitive learning: Follow seemingly illogical curiosities and create unstructured space for the mind to make nonlinear connections.

How Plants Drive Culture

It's every day that we hear about a new superfood on the shelves of our local store, a miracle plant touted by Dr Oz, or some new crop that is saving (or destroying) communities on the other side of the world. Is this a new phenomenon? Is the coming and going of plant products a by-product of our recently globalized society, or a fundamental driver of the forces that have shaped human trade, culture, and even our biochemistry for millennia? Drawing on my diverse experience living in the Amazon, building supply chains for new ingredients, and designing food and beverage products for some of the largest CPG companies in the world, I elucidate common features of how plant products have shaped the human experience throughout the ages. I trace the history of 3 plants (coffee, coca and cotton) that have dramatically shaped wars, modern social structures and the rise of industrialism itself. I offer my 4 Keys that all successful new products must have to gain widespread cultural acceptance, using chia, kombucha and acai as clear modern examples of this framework I created:

Memorable Mythos (the legendary Mexican runners using chia, the ancient cave monks with their kombucha cultures, etc.)

On-Trend Functionality (caffeine in the industrial age, kombucha in the age of digestive ails, acai at the peak of antioxidant madness, quinoa during the rise of plant-based protein etc.)

Theatricality: could be color, texture, or taste but some element that distinctively captures the senses (the “alien brain” texture of chia, the brilliant purple of acai, the slime of kombucha)

Identity Icon: Products that become a symbol of a consumer’s values and cultural affiliation (kombucha for yogis, acai for surfers, chia for runners)

Tyler Gage
Featured Review

Tyler Gage
Featured Articles & Resources

Runa Tea | Unlocking the Power of the Amazon

Since Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie founded Runa Tea in 2009, the company has made a tremendous social and economic impact in the lives of the Sapara and Kichwa people and...
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Tyler Gage + RUNA Tea featured on Fast Company

Tyler Gage’s world changed when, following a course at Brown University on the languages and cultures of the Amazon, he decided to move to the rainforest. He became immersed...
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Runa Tea Secures $5.75 Million Investment

MetaBrand Capital, a new “conscious capital” private equity fund and the investment pillar of MetaBrand – a full service firm providing product formulation, outsourced...
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Topics:   Business

Runa Wins WWF Switzerland Tropical Forest Challenge

Written by Allison Langille Like many great businesses that are social by design, Runa was born out of experiencing a troubling consequence of global development first hand –...
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Topics:   Entrepreneurs

Exclusive Speaker Named One of Forbes' Most Influential

One of our exclusive speakers, Tyler Gage (pictured right), and his business partner (pictured left) were recently named Forbes 30 Under 30 Most Influential for cofounding...
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Topics:   Business

Specialty Food Entrepreneur Shares Story

Written by Eva Meszaros Immersing himself in the indigenous communities of Ecuador gave Tyler Gage insight into the daily lives of the Kichwa people and their struggle to...
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Topics:   Entrepreneurs

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