Bootstraps to Unicorns

Cooper Williams, Contributor

Co-founders recall painful early days when only income was $300K from their parents.

“It was a really humbling experience.”  We are sitting in their office in downtown Brooklyn in a WeWork, which, somehow, still exists. John Silva, CEO of LoveJuice, nods gravely as co-founder Alex Roberts continues. “I checked the bank account and the balance was negative. I’d never experienced that feeling before.” He is referring, of course, to his checking account. He promptly transferred a portion of the $300,000 his parents had just deposited into his savings account. His parents were happy to make this angel investment, because their child is an angel. 

LoveJuice is a blockchain-based, CBD-infused smoothie consumption ledger technology product aiming to “revolutionize” smoothies by democratizing access. Silva declined to share more information on user growth, their path to profitability, or what it means for a smoothie to be blockchain-based. However, he assures me, “Our performance has really been stellar; we anticipate our hockey stick moment in the next six months.” Today, after its latest round of fundraising led by Softbank, Lovejuice is valued at seven billion dollars. 

Silva and Roberts met as teenagers at Andover, a small networking and social club in New England that also teaches Latin to members. The two remained friends and over the years played around with several startup ideas. As early adopters of crypto-currencies and self-described “CBD enthusiasts,” they were sipping smoothies at the SoHo Equinox when they realized that they could combine their passions into a singular, uber-profitable startup. The two immediately returned to Roberts’ family loft nearby to begin planning. “We knew the journey ahead would be a challenge for us. We had no meaningful connections and no access to capital.” Undeterred, they sought counsel from a mentor—Roberts’ father, an early employee at Google who had recently started his own growth equity fund. “It was really scary to just quit our PE jobs and strike out on our own with nothing to fall back on. I even pulled out of a ski weekend with the boys.”

With their unicorn status and “obvious” path to profitability, the boys’ alma mater Harvard Business School even decided to write a case about them. The head of the first-year curriculum, whose name no one knows, shared, “Their success with LoveJuice really exemplifies the kind of students we have here at HBS. It shows what can be achieved if you’re willing to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and risk it all. We love risk-takers.”

 Next year’s first-year students can look out for “LoveJuice: A Founder’s Journey” in the TEM required curriculum.


Cooper Williams (MBA ’21) is very proud of being Californian despite not having lived there for seven years.