Honest Tea needed cash.

In 1998, the Bethesda, Md.-based tea maker’s first year, Seth Goldman and business partner Barry Nalebuff had raised about $500,000 – from family, friends, and their own contributions. But in 1999, they needed another $1.2 million. Venture capital firms were an option. But Goldman and Nalebuff believed VC firms were often focused on exit strategies – buying companies cheap, and selling them at great profit. The pair had social vision for Honest Tea that they feared...

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