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Kogod Alumni Profile

Chris Mittelstaedt, BSBA '91

"A lot of the health disparities that people have now are because of lack of access to healthy fruits and vegetables," says Chris Mittelstaedt, BSBA '91. He’s trying to change that.

Mittelstaedt is founder, CEO, and chief banana of the San Francisco–based vending machine alternative, The Fruit Guys. The business, which Mittelstaedt launched during the heydays of the dot-com bubble, was first geared toward coders and techies whose waistlines expanded as they pumped caffeine to get through long shifts. Mittelstaedt found his niche replacing chocolate-covered espresso beans and Jolt with kumquats and avocados.

Good health is central, but the Fruit Guys' mission is broader. Mittelstaedt thinks back to his entrepreneurship class with Kogod professor Richard Linowes and repeats a grounding life and business tenet Linowes planted in his mind: "He asked, 'What are you doing that makes you a vital contributor?'" Mittelstaedt adds, "I've thought about that throughout the rest of my career. A lot."

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