Kara Goldin: The Accidental Entrepreneur

It’s hard not to be inspired by entrepreneur Kara Goldin. She is the CEO and founder of Hint Inc., a San Francisco-based company that produces flavored water.  She dedicates personal time to helping other entrepreneurs find success, is constantly sharing inspirational advice on social media, and her accolades include Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and Forbes’ 40 Women to Watch Over 40.

Without any previous experience in the beverage industry, Goldin started Hint because she always had a hard time drinking plain water — she wanted something with a little more taste to it. She didn’t want to drink anything with any preservatives, which unfortunately flooded the market. Realizing there was a dearth of this type of product, she created her own company to meet that need. Since 2005, Hint has continued to grow in success, and is now a top-selling naturally flavored water, used as an alternative to soda and sugary beverages.

“I had a gut feeling that I was on to something that could truly change health in America, and help people live healthier lives,” Goldin tells HER magazine.

She took a risk and created this company without necessarily having the expertise at first — but those risks have seriously paid off.

By learning from mistakes and finding solutions, the brand became stronger and stronger, and is now stocked in Silicon Valley refrigerators, keeping tech innovators well hydrated at companies like Uber, Google, Facebook, Yelp, Linkedin, Spotify, Snap Inc., Instagram, and Hulu, according to Forbes.

The best advice she ever received? “Don’t be afraid to fly the plane before you build it.” When she launched Hint, she understood that she wouldn’t have all the answers at first, and there would be struggles along the way, but she continued to follow her passion.  “It can be scary to take a leap of faith,” she says, “but if you have confidence in what you’re doing and the passion to make it a success, it will be.”

Starting the Company

In the beginning, Goldin had no idea Hint would be such a huge success.  The flavored water drinks are vegan, gluten-free, have zero diet sweeteners, zero calories, zero preservatives, and use non-GMO fruits.  The company also has an oxybenzone and paraben-free water-resistant fruit scented sunscreen product.

“We knew consumers had a problem with sugar, and that this was a solution to help them drink more water that didn’t exist before — but we didn’t know if people would buy it or not,” she says of their initial uncertainty.

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, go all in, she says.  There will always be people who will tell you no, or that it’s not possible, but don’t let that negative energy deter you from your mission. “A no from one person just means that’s not the right person to be part of what you’re doing; it doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t the right thing to do,” Goldin explains.

Before she became the CEO of Hint, Goldin was the vice president of shopping and e-commerce partnerships at AOL.  She led the company to $1 billion enterprise from ground zero.  When she started her business with her husband, they initially kept Hint a secret from friends and family because they didn’t want people to think they were crazy.

“No matter how much you believe in your own product, there’s no way to predict how successful it will be until you’re out there in the market, and we are so happy with the positive reception Hint has received and the immense growth we’re continuing to see.”

Beyond the Brand

Helping other entrepreneurs find success has become a second passion for Goldin. “I dedicate five hours a week of my time to mentoring entrepreneurs, and through these meetings I realized that simply talking through experiences I’ve had or challenges I’ve faced has been very helpful to these people who are just starting out, and I’m just one person with one set of experiences,” she says.

But she’s gone beyond just mentoring. Starting a company is hard, and no one can do it alone. It’s essential to have a network you can depend on and trusted mentors who can guide you along the way.  Knowing this, in 2016 Goldin launched the Kara Network, a video social network that serves as a digital resource for entrepreneurs.

“I hope that hearing these stories will inspire budding entrepreneurs to chase their own passion, but also provide some actionable advice and helpful anecdotes to learn from,” she says.

The Kara Network is accessible to anyone, and taps into the experiences and challenges of successful entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries, all of whom offer unique insights and points of view.

“I often call myself an accidental entrepreneur, because this was never something I had planned to do or sought out. I simply found something that I was so passionate about and motivated by that I couldn’t not do it,” says Goldin.

Goldin’s Next Move

Hint’s mission is all about making it easy and enjoyable to live a healthier lifestyle, whether it’s drinking more water or applying more sunscreen.  Products with the Hint name will always go back to this mission and solve a problem for consumers, Goldin explains.

“Right now I’m really focused on continuing to grow the brand and build on the positive momentum with the sunscreen, but we’re always thinking about how to solve consumer problems, and you can certainly expect to see some exciting developments in the future!”

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