Our Story

Runa was founded in 2009, days after we graduated from college. But our story begins several years earlier, when Tyler was living with the Kichwa people in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It was then he was introduced to guayusa – a naturally caffeinated tree leaf brewed like tea, consumed early in the morning to help interpret dreams and late at night to provide energy and clarity while hunting in the jungle. He loved the earthy flavor, smooth taste, and energy boost he got from the leaf.

 

Living and working in Latin and South America, we both saw how unsustainable activities like logging were enticing ways for people living in the rainforest to pay for education and medicine. We also saw how development projects implemented by NGOs often floundered because they lacked buy-in from local stakeholders.

Upon returning to college we teamed up to write the business plan for Runa. We entered and won several business plan competitions. After graduating from school we moved to Ecuador to begin working with local Kichwa communities to build a guayusa supply chain.

 

Together with these communities we envisioned a business that could share energizing, rich-tasting guayusa with the world – a business that would respect cultural traditions, support small farmers, and maintain the integrity of the Amazon rainforest. Runa now buys guayusa leaves from over 2,300 farming families. Those leaves are processed in a plant in Ecuador and then shipped to the U.S. where they are shared with a growing number of people.

 

Runa is proving that businesses in the Amazon can be good for the environment and the preservation of traditional cultural practices while supporting producers and connecting them to consumers around the world.

 

We couldn’t be more excited.

 

- Tyler and Dan

















Press

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The New York Times

Fruitful but Tough Adventures in the Amazon


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Food Navigator

Move Over Yerba Mate! Guayusa is the Next Big Thing in ‘Clean Energy,’ say Runa founders


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Screw Business as Usual

Runa receives words of praise in Richard Branson’s Screw Business as Usual, a book he wrote to encourage entrepreneurs to look beyond profit margins and create businesses that do well for people and planet as well as for profit.


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Popsugar

“7 Teas We Can’t Stop Drinking Right Now”


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Joonbug

“Guayasa is known to have many health benefits, including immune support, digestive aid, and appetite suppressant.”


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Forbes

“Runa co-founders, Dan MacCombie and Tyler Gage, were honored to be included in this year’s Forbes 30 under 30 list in the Food and Wine category”


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Los Angeles Magazine

“I can be an extremist with things, at times. When I find something I really like, I become wholly consumed by it and feel a need to tell everyone it’s the best damn thing I’ve ever had. My newest tea obsession is no different…”


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Loose Leaf Tea Review

“I will highly recommend this herbal tea to anyone who is trying to fight coffee addiction, but still needs a caffeine fix in the morning, or someone who is adventurist and explorer in the world of tea traditions.”


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The New York Observer

“Guayusa tastes good and boast many health benefits including immune support, digestive aid and appetite suppressant.”


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Small Business Opportunities

“Runa looseleaf products benefit locals, too”


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The Nibble

“An all-natural source of energy and nutrition, a cup of guayusa can produce a clear mind and focused energy.”


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Teaviews

“The cup is eyebrow raisingly smooth with no bitterness.”


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Steepster

“The mint is very good. I could drink this daily. Of course now I want to educate myself on Guayusa, and try some others. This is great though!”