Back to the Roots Ventures (BTTR)

by Jorge Calderon and Nishant Bagadia

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.

Learning Objectives

1. Provide a case study whose multiple business design shifts can be used to learn how the Impact Canvas and Social Lean Method (or similar approaches) are used in designing a new (or analyzing an existing) business design; 2. Provide a case that forces the inspection of what data is necessary and what data to trust when making substantial strategic decisions; 3. Provide an example of how young entrepreneurs can be shaped through on-the-job learning; 4. Provide a case study to discuss the nuances of bootstrapping a start-up


Pub Date:

Jun 9, 2015

Revision Date:

Jul 31, 2015




Entrepreneurship, Corporate social responsibility, Corporate strategy, Growth strategy, Sustainability


UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Product #:



Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting


United States, California


24 page(s)

Berkeley Haas Case Series
Berkeley Haas Case Series The Berkeley Haas Case Series is a collection of business case studies written by faculty members at the Haas School of Business. Cases are conceived, developed, written, and published throughout the year, on subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and strategy to finance and marketing. Each case includes a teaching note for use in the classroom.


Berkeley Haas Case Series

A new collection of business case studies from Berkeley Haas

The aim of the Berkeley Haas Case Series is to incite business innovation by clarifying disruptive trends and questioning the status quo.

Learn more
Follow Us