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.