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How the Serial Entrepreneur Behind Tazo Tea Brews Up Success Steven Smith built his career around tea, including selling a company to Starbucks for $9 million. Now this serial entrepreneur is succeeding on his own terms.

By Bruce Schoenfeld

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Steven Smith Teamaker
Steeped in success: Steven Smith.
Photography by David Johnson

Steven Smith has built a career around tea. A rare serial entrepreneur who has made repeated waves in a single industry, the never-satisfied Smith has built and sold companies multiple times, including closing a multimillion-dollar deal with Starbucks. With his latest venture, Steven Smith Teamaker, he is finally succeeding on his own terms. But is he already looking ahead to the next big thing?

Forty years ago, Steven Smith stood up at a meeting of disgruntled Oregon farmers and offered them an alternative to the falling price of peppermint oil. He bought up their mint leaves and began selling them to tea giants Celestial Seasonings and Lipton. Eventually, he sold the leaves as bagged tea under the Stash Tea Company name, which he helped grow from an $800-a-month botanicals supplier into a multimillion-dollar brand. Then he created and built a company called Tazo, which he sold to Starbucks. After that, he moved to France to live the good life.

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