John Elstrott

John Elstrott

Describe an innovative moment in your career trajectory.

I was at the University of Colorado in Boulder working toward a PhD in Economics and completing my dissertation on "The Role of the Entrepreneur in a Free Market Economy" when I met two men who were launching an herbal tea company, Celestial Seasonings. I started working with them part-time to develop a business plan, inventory management plan, and financial forecast we could use to secure a bank loan. I realized I could learn a lot about entrepreneurs by becoming one. By the time I graduated a year later, I was more passionate about building an alternative healthy beverage company than I was about a being college professor. I passed up the security of a university position to become the CFO of a fledgling venture that was not yet earning a profit. It was a fun and rewarding adventure that led to a 44 year career of starting and building companies. I eventually became a part-time entrepreneur so I could join the A. B. Freeman School of Business to launch the entrepreneurship center.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you early in your career?

A great innovation is not enough to ensure the success of a venture. It needs to be complimented by a great team.

What is your favorite thing about working with Tulane student entrepreneurs?

Getting to know them, understanding the purpose behind their ventures, and being inspired by their idealism and determination to make the world a better place.