Berkeley Haas Case Series

Case Information

Back to the Roots Ventures (BTTR)
Calderon, Jorge , and Nishant Bagadia
Publication date: 6/10/2015, pages 1-24

This case study focuses on Back to the Roots (BTTR), a company started by two founders while they were still students at the University of California at Berkeley. It takes place in 2014, five years after Alejandro "Alex" Velez and Nikhil Arora formed a partnership based on their mutual interest in creating economic value and social impact through commercial solutions. Over this period, BTTR has evolved from a test bed of youthful inquisitiveness to an award-winning and recognizable brand. Since inception, BTTR’s management has either modified or significantly pivoted the company’s business design at least five times, with their most recent success stemming from a suite of Sustainable Do-it-Yourself Products. Having just raised their first round of professional investment capital, BTTR is at an inflection point, preparing to enter BTTR into the very competitive cereal CPG category. This multi-faceted case has a broad set of applications across entrepreneurship and strategy, with a particularly unique view of the intersection between commercial solutions and social purpose. It demonstrates the non-linear path that most start-ups take in finding the value propositions and offerings that resonate with their intended stakeholders. While one of the primary goals of developing this case study was to clarify how to use a business planning tool like the Impact Canvas (see or other similar business model canvases), this narrative can also catalyze a more general discussion about best practices in primary and secondary data gathering and how to prioritize information to support strategic decisions. Additionally, this case offers a unique illustration of bootstrapping a company from a college setting to an investable and scalable company.

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