Sleepless, long nights are when the grit of a venture is tested and created
From leading a start-up through acquisition to serving on the Board of Directors of a publicly traded company, I use my diverse experience to help organizations get results in unexpected, challenging environments.
After graduating from Brown University, I turned down a Fulbright grant so that I could start RUNA, a social enterprise that makes clean energy drinks with guayusa. A rare Amazonian leaf, guayusa is grown in sustainable forest gardens 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 2018.
I 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 me and my work.
In my book “Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business & Life,” shares tools and guidance for how entrepreneurs can accomplish ambitious social missions by building thriving businesses.
In 2018 I joined Terrafertil, a leading Latin American natural foods company, and facilitated multiple M&A transactions including the sale of the company to Nestle in 2019.
I now advise, invest in, and support other start-ups and socially responsible businesses, and serve on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Brown University and as Chairman of the Aliados Foundation. I live in Bellingham, Washington with my wife and daughter, and enjoy mountain biking, backpacking, hunting, and trail running.
I invest in socially responsible businesses with a focus on health & wellness, education, renewable energy, information access, and consumer goods.
Clean Choice Energy: Clean Choice Energy is a rapidly growing company that allows people to effortlessly switch to clean energy without installing solar panels or switching utility companies. A B-Corp, Ethical Electric was recognized as "Best for the Environment" and "Best for Workers" by B Labs.
Dynamicare: DynamiCare is a digital care program that leverages evidence-based treatment plans and helps monitor and motivate people to overcome addiction.
BRCK: BRCK's mission is to connect the next billion people in frontier markets to the internet by creating products, services, and models that are designed for the reality of those environments. BRCK does this by building devices that work both online and offline, can work with any type of infrastructure, and keep working through the hardest environments and develops business models that dramatically reduce the costs of the web to the end users.
Chawar Andean Agave: Chawar is a high-altitude, raw agave spirit from the Andes. This South American relative of tequila and mezcal is made by a group of indigenous women high in the Ecuadorian Andes using regenerative agroforestry practices.
Wayfinder is a culturally responsive, comprehensive mental health + SEL curriculum for middle and high school students
EVRNU: Evrnu is a textile innovations company helping create a circular ecosystem by specializing in regenerative fiber technologies made from discarded clothing.
Thistle: Thistle is a vertically-integrated, direct-to-consumer food and nutrition company that makes eating nutritionist-designed, plant-forward meals as easy as pushing a button
Aperia: Maker of the fleet tire management technology and platform that reduces emissions and tire waste, enhances safety, and improves profitability.
PurpleSun: PURPLESUN is a technology company on a mission to transform healthcare by creating the first non-chemical based standard for disinfection. PurpleSun's novel light-based products provide healthcare facilities with the fastest, data-driven, sustainable solutions for infection prevention.
Fluid Biotech: Early stage company developing the world's first dissolving flow-diverting stents that heal brain aneurysms with lower risk and cot.
TRANSFORMING BUSINESS IN THE ANDES & AMAZON
I co-founded the Aliados Foundation (a US 501c3 non-profit) in 2009 to bring together people who believe in development without destruction.
We’re creating resilient community businesses based on biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon— and connecting them to markets across the globe.
Our work has helped generate millions of dollars of direct income to thousands of farming families since we began in 2009.
Join our pioneering alliance of communities, funders & practitioners that support the stewardship of one of our planet’s most vulnerable ecosystems.
Building a startup is like being thrust into the middle of the Amazonian rainforest: living every day on the edge of your comfort zone,
vulnerable to the unexpected challenges constantly being thrown your way, and constantly shifting to meet daily demands and do everything and anything you can to survive, let alone to thrive. Published by Simon & Schuster, Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business & Life shares tools and guidance to show readers how we can dig deeper to bring greater meaning and purpose to our personal and professional pursuits. Vulnerable, raw and deeply transparent, Fully Alive reveals powerful tools and lessons that can teach all of us how to grow toward and beyond our personal edges, no matter our circumstances.
“Rich with tools and guidance for how
entrepreneurs can accomplish ambitious social missions by building thriving businesses.”
—JOHN MACKEY, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market
“We need new thinking to tackle the massive environmental and structural problems the world faces today. Tyler points a way forward, using ancient knowledge and practices, and lays a foundation for its application in modern business.”
—ROSE MARCARIO, CEO and president of Patagonia, Inc.
“A refreshingly honest, often brutally frank blend of big picture inspiration and pragmatic learnings that will help inform any entrepreneur about facing and overcoming challenges, especially
with mission-driven businesses.”
—GARY HIRSHBERG, cofounder, chairman, and former CEO of Stonyfield Farm
“Whether you’re an entrepreneur, business person, seeker, or lover of adventure stories: Read this book.”
—MARK RAMPOLLA, founder of ZICO Coconut Waterand author of High-Hanging Fruit
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
“A must-read story fueled by adventure, passion and purpose.”
—Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes
As an award-winning entrepreneur I speak with heart, cutting insight, and unflinching determination about how to thrive at the edge and get results in unexpected, challenging environments.
In my speeches, I combine hard-won business lessons with captivating personal stories from living in the jungle to adventures with celebrity investors. I tailor each presentation to the needs of his audience and am not limited to the topics listed below. Recognizing that easy answers and simplistic models are often of little value, I aim to illuminate complexities and suggest desirable tools and sensible outcomes to the many challenges we face in the workplace.
Mission and Impact “From the Inside Out”
I draw on my 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.
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. I share potent insights and practical tools from my experience about how to thrive at the edge and get real, measurable results in unexpected, challenging environments.
Fierce Collaboration: Applying Lessons from Trend-Setting Cultures
I recognized that a unique capacity for collaboration and exchange is central to what gives indigenous communities the ability to thrive in one of the most lethal ecosystems in the world. I have applied these lessons to build and sell multiple companies and now work as an advisor to large multinationals and start-ups to apply these same lessons. Applicable in both the urban jungle and the actual rainforest, I provide frameworks and practical tools to help groups generate a high degree of cooperation, and bring examples from the Incan empire all the way to Amazon.com, Lyft, and Casper.
"We had Tyler speak at our Clinton Global University event and he was incredible! Tyler's passion for creating social good business was felt by everyone and great inspiration. He's both academically rigorous and enjoyable relatable, making for a engaging presentation throughout. The degree of innovation in Runa's business is almost unparalleled. We would highly recommend Tyler as a speaker at any event. "
MIA LUI - CLINTON FOUNDATION
"Tyler’s presentation to Stanford’s GSB students is always a highlight of the year. Students love Tyler’s infectious enthusiasm for his product and his commitment to its social mission. Weeks later I still hear passionate conversations about "doing good while doing well" as Tyler says."
LAURA HATTENDORF - STANFORD BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
"Tyler was a featured speaker at our Partners Group Annual General Meetings in Berlin, Germany to showcase the potential of social responsible business to do good and do well. Our audience from across the world gave Tyler stellar feedback, saying that he was not only inspiring and truly authentic, but that his presentation of Runa gave a clear illustration of what impact investing and social enterprises are all about."
URS BAUMANN, PRESIDENT - PARTNERS GROUP IMPACT
"Tyler's presentation at Wharton was a great success. He delivered Runa's story with enthusiasm and insight, and presented a truly unique perspective on social enterprise in emerging markets. Tyler kept students engaged throughout his talk . . ."
PROFESSOR IAN MACMILLAN - WHARTON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
"Through both his actions and his words, Tyler is an ongoing inspiration to my entrepreneurship students at Brown, Yale and Tel Aviv University. He has a rare talent for communicating and motivating authentically - simply by telling his story in ways that my students always find captivating. Tyler is a model that I hope my students emulate for Runa's double bottom line approach to entrepreneurial success. I am proud of him for walking his talk with such high integrity and for sharing his approach with the next generations of entrepreneurship students eager to follow in his path."
DANNY WARSHAY, PROFESSOR - BROWN UNIVERSITY AND GUEST LECTURER AT YALE UNIVERSITY AND TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY
"Tyler led a great interactive session and held the audience engaged with his fresh perspective on growing a new category in one of the most competitive industries in the world."
WORLD TEA EXPO
"Tyler Gage was awesome! He kept our audience engaged the entire hour. So many times you want to nap in the middle of a speech - but not this one. After his speech, there were many great questions from the audience. I heard again and again the question - "Who found this speaker? He was awesome!"
LORI BOYER - WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
"Tyler Gage was an incredibly engaging and dynamic speaker. He held the attention of 450 students by sharing his experience from student travel to entrepreneurship. He took us on his journey and included informative and humorous aspects of his discoveries."
THE DALTON SCHOOL
"Tyler's presentation at Harvard was captivating and educational for the diverse audience in our speaker's series, providing practical entrepreneurial acumen for the MBA students, rich cultural history for the anthropology students, and an array of insights in between. Passionate, humorous, and sophisticated, Tyler was a perfect speaker to show that business can succeed in many ways, and doing well while doing good is fully possible."
JESSICA DON - HARVARD UNIVERSITY
"Tyler was one of our featured speakers at our NYU Social Innovation Symposium this year. He was incredibly engaging and truly spoke to the potential for unique business solutions to drive social change. Our attendees were inspired to see how RUNA could have such a tremendous impact beyond the product itself -- from economic inclusion to reforestation efforts. Further, learning about his background and path in business was truly motivational to the many students seeking careers at the intersection of business and social impact."
CHRISTINE STAFFON - NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
"Tyler is a changemaker, his background and mission with Runa was utterly inspiring to FounderMade’s community of investors and entrepreneurs. Brilliant leader on so many levels!"
SARA BROOKS - FOUNDERMADE
"We are thrilled to have Tyler Gage speak frequently at Unite For Sight’s Global Health & Innovation Conference, which is the world’s largest global health and social entrepreneurship conference. He is a compelling speaker who captivates the audience with essential insight and expertise."
JENNIFER CLARK -
UNITE FOR SIGHT