MBA Student Veterans Launch Sleep Tea Startup
Two Georgetown McDonough alumni and one current MBA student have launched an organic tea startup, Coyotea, to help those who have trouble sleeping.
Christian Hyland (MBA’17) first began experimenting with herbal teas when returning to civilian life after serving for five years in the U.S. Army. He found that a combination of natural teas was effective in inducing sleep. Later, classmate and fellow veteran Nick De Gregorio (MBA’18), who suffered from the same problem, and Matt Harb (MBA’17) signed on as co-founders.
The trio officially launched their product after taking the Lean Startup tutorial, a Georgetown McDonough MBA class that requires students to create a real-world product or service. Over the past summer, Coyotea sold 10,000 units of its tea. Although it currently is sold out online, the tea can be found at Glen’s Garden Market in the D.C. neighborhoods of Dupont Circle and Shaw.
The company has a strong emphasis on social responsibility that stems from the military background of Hyland and De Gregorio. Ten percent of its proceeds goes to Friendship Place, an organization that assists homeless veterans. They also have partnered with the Headstrong Project, a free mental health treatment program for veterans. Since many veterans struggle with sleeping, Coyotea has provided free samples of its tea to veterans’ organizations and introduced the product to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Coyotea’s goal is to increase production tenfold. To do so, the founders are launching a Kickstarter campaign on November 11, Veterans’ Day, to raise capital, build brand equity, and maximize their social impact.
“We are a for-profit company,” De Gregorio said. “But as an MBA, you hear all these amazing stories about companies that find ways to do well and do good. For us, it’s imperative that we grow quickly so that we can reach as many veterans in need as possible.”