A HINT for Success: How a Mother's Innovation Turned Into a Multi-million Dollar Company

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 @ 11:50 AM

Kara Goldin, CEO of HINT Inc., in San Francisco, California, USA, was named Female Entrepreneur of the Year for Business Products in the 2012 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, the world's premier business awards for women executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run. (Entries are now being accepted for the 2020 Stevie Awards for Women in Business. If you haven't yet done so, you can request an entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.) Here we look at how a successful businesswoman—and, more important, a mother of four--became a business award- winning pioneer in the beverage industry.

Kara Goldin, CEO, HINT Inc.Kara Goldin is an innovator who is changing the habits of the beverage-drinking consumer. Kara started HINT because her family, like so many others across America, needed a healthy, yet flavorful, alternative to sugary sodas and juices.

On receiving her Stevie Award in November 2012, Kara commented: “Winning the award for Best Female Entrepreneur is AWESOME!  All the hard work is finally starting to pay off. The Stevie Awards are a great recognition and I am really honored and grateful!”

Calorie Counting
In 2004, Kara was determined that her family should switch to a healthier lifestyle when she realized how many calories they was consuming from juice, soda, and other beverages. 

Kara laid down the law and banned everything except plain water and milk in her house. That worked for her (at least for a little while), but the other members of her family were not happy.  She realized that she had to find something more interesting than plain water, so she studied the labels of every beverage she could find, but each drink she picked up contained either loads of calories or questionable diet sweeteners.

The Aha! Moment
Finally, out of desperation, Kara started slicing fruit into water to provide a little bit of flavor without adding a lot of calories. Surprisingly, this simple solution was a hit with her family. One day, she received a call from a friend whose child had been over at her house several times: “You have to tell me where you got the raspberry water my daughter keeps talking about.”

Kara laughed and explained that it wasn’t actually a product you buy. That 2004 conversation was Kara’s Aha! moment: she realized then that someone should make a simple, unsweetened, fruit-flavored water as a substitute for all the calorie-laden or artificially sweetened beverages on the market.

A Woman’s Intuition
Despite her inexperience in the beverage industry, the tough economic climate, and having to compete with the likes of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Kara followed her intuition that this was a product that would sell, and created HINT Water.

In just six years, her perseverance, determination, and innovation brought HINT Water to the shelves of nationwide retailers like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Stop&Shop, The Fresh Market, and many other stores nationwide.

Adding Sparkle
With the success of HINT secured, Kara was ready to take on the soda category.  In January 2012, Kara launched HINT Fizz, a sparkling version of HINT that is available in four flavors. Staying true to Kara’s vision, HINT Fizz offered a refreshing alternative to consumers trying to break the soda habit.

Consumers loved it. HINT Fizz won Better Homes and Gardens Best New Beverage of 2012.

A Simple Mission
With one simple mission of providing a delicious and healthy beverage, Kara has been able to turn HINT into a multi-million dollar company offering a product that consumers trust and enjoy. The biggest lesson she has learned to date is if you make a product that you believe in and stay true to your message, your loyal consumers will become your best advocates and help spread the word.

HINT is a brand that’s been built around an important message: Drink Water, Not Sugar®, and Kara firmly believes in her message.

About Kara Goldin:
Since 2005, Kara Goldin has served as the Founder and CEO of HINT, Inc., maker of the HINT all-natural, no-calorie essence waters. Kara has built HINT's reputation as one of the leading health-driven beverages through its message: “Drink Water, Not Sugar”. This has resonated with the increasingly health-conscious consumer, and has attracted the endorsement of celebrity investor and 9-time Grammy winner John Legend.

Prior to conceptualizing HINT, Goldin built her career as Vice President of Electronic Commerce and Shopping at AOL, helping to turn its online shopping business into a billion-dollar entity in the 1990s.In 2011 Goldin was selected as one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. Goldin continues to expand HINT, most recently by introducing HINT Fizz, a carbonated version, in 2012.

About Hint, Inc.:
HINT Inc. is the maker of the no-calorie, unsweetened essence waters HINT and HINT Fizz. Founded in 2005 by mother-of-four Kara Goldin, HINT and HINT Fizz have doubled revenues year over year and become the preferred alternative to sugary beverages. For more information, go to www.drinkhint.com or www.facebook.com/drinkhint.

Topics: business awards, stevie awards for women in business, Innovation, Kara Goldin, HINT, Female Entrepreneur of the Year