From tiger sharks to tea

Biologist Austin Gallagher, '08, Ph.D., embraces an entrepreneurial spirit

By Rita Buettner  |  Photos courtesy of Austin Gallagher

As a Loyola University Maryland student, Austin Gallagher, ’08, majored in biology with a minor in communication. Gallagher received a master’s in Marine Science in 2010 from Northeastern University and a doctorate from University of Miami. He is the CEO, president, and founder of Beneath the Waves, a non-profit to advance the conservation of sharks and oceans through research and education, and in 2016 he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Today he lives in Reston, Va., but he has initiatives and businesses spread across Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Miami. Loyola magazine asked him to share his inspiration for his latest initiative, a line of organic teas.

Can you share your graduate school education and career path?

I initially earned my master’s in Marine Science from Northeastern University in Boston. Shortly thereafter I advanced into a Ph.D. in Environmental Science at the University of Miami, and during my Ph.D. program, I started a small nonprofit called Beneath the Waves through a series of mentors and opportunities. The nonprofit, whose mission is to advance the conservation of sharks through cutting-edge science, has gone on to form partnerships with some of the world’s most dynamic brands—and has grown significantly since incorporating in 2014. I slowly gained a number of entrepreneurial skills and interests in building businesses around causes and brands. My career path is as non-conventional as it gets: I am a conservation biologist, nonprofit leader, and entrepreneur focusing on brand-building with a love for marketing.

Can you tell us about your latest venture?

My latest venture is called Tempo, a line of organic, sparkling teas crafted to provide an uplifting source of clean energy. Our drinks are zero calorie, zero sugar, and contain organic ingredients with scientifically-supported health benefits. The bubbles add a fun social element to the experience. Tempo is a beverage company that wants to revitalize your body and elevate your social experience.

How did you get the idea for Tempo?

My longtime friend Ryan Crane, frustrated from working nearly a decade in investment banking, presented the idea to me at a music festival we attended in Miami in 2016. He felt by combining his background in investment and consumer packaged good, with my experiencing building a brand to global recognition, we had a real chance to create some magic. We want to do things differently, with our own flare and unique combination of skills.

What are your hopes for Tempo?

At a high level, we hope Tempo will be a leader for consumer health in the rapidly evolving food and beverage space, as well as trusted and credible example of sustainability. From a more mechanistic standpoint, we are hoping to grow a following and grab a strong foothold in Chicago, and then make moves to other markets that make sense for our brand.

How do you apply your Jesuit undergraduate education from Loyola in your work and life today?

It is difficult to encapsulate all of the different ways in which I am using my Loyola education. Simply put, my exposure to the liberal arts has had such a powerful impact on my ability to be an entrepreneur. I noticed this through my scientific pursuits, but I see it even more today with my new for-profit venture.

How did your Loyola eexperience help you become an entrepreneur?

My experience showed me that in order to be an effective entrepreneur, you need to be flexible and able to incorporate lessons and thought processes from various disciplines. Problem solving is at the core of any business, and problems rarely have one solution. Loyola taught me that.

What will you do next?

Right now the main focus is on growing Tempo, while also maintaining sustainable growth through our nonprofit. By design, Tempo is partnering with Beneath the Waves, so it allows me to work on both projects—although every week the demands often shift due to deadlines and priorities. I am really comfortable and happy with the nonprofit’s status, so now I face an exciting set of challenges with Tempo that will allow me to try something new, while always staying true to what earned me success in the past. It is pretty fun to be able to launch an expedition to the Bahamas to tag tiger sharks while also finding fun ways to engage our beverage brand. That is what I find most exciting: an intersection of worlds that for years seemed disparate.

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