Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, usually! Persistence pays, as Henry’s story beautifully illustrates!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances? What is the backstory to the Limeade story?
Henry Albrecht: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I’m the youngest of four boys. I think that probably says a lot about my personality, competitiveness, and desire to be heard. I had two wonderful parents who embodied the Midwestern work ethic. My dad was raised on a farm in Iowa. He was the man of the family at age 10 when his father passed away. He was driving a tractor before he could reach the pedals. He brought that into the way that we were raised, which was to work hard and be successful. As the youngest, I was always trying to beat my older brothers even though they beat me a lot more often than I beat them.
Sramana Mitra: What did you go on to do in terms of college? What did you decide to study?
Henry Albrecht: I lived in Seattle till I was 18, then I went to college. I went to Rice University in my freshman year. I loved Rice. I really enjoyed the academic rigor. I was into English Literature. I love stories, but I also wanted to play basketball. I ended up transferring to a smaller school called Claremont College in Los Angeles where I combined a lot of the things I was passionate about, which are team sports, English Literature, and Business and Economics.
I have a dual major in English Literature and Economics. My thoughts at that time were of either being a novelist, English professor, or getting a job in Economics. Luckily, I had one year to think about it because I was hired to play basketball in Portugal for a year after college. That gave me some time to play basketball and think about what my future should be.
Sramana Mitra: What did you come up with?
Henry Albrecht: After coming back from Europe, I decided to move to the Bay Area. I have this dual academic interest. One is English and storytelling and the other is data, statistics, and insights into data. I took the path towards the latter. I joined a firm called Law and Economics Consulting Group as an Econometric Consultant, which meant we helped big companies analyze Big Data before Big Data was cool. This was in the early ’90s. We did litigation consulting and a lot of stock fraud investigation. I actually did a really interesting pricing project where we looked at multi-product companies and helped them optimize their pricing in all the markets they’re in.
I loved the analytics and statistics of that but I really didn’t love the consulting model, which isn’t about building cooler things faster and being as efficient as you can. Ultimately, it’s about billing hours. I didn’t find that mission-driven. I found myself jaded because of that model.