How Hint Got Its Start


NewCo Shift Forum

Kara Goldin Founder & CEO, hint, Inc., had a feeling diet soda was not helping her. She was right.

One of the most interesting sessions at the NewCo Shift Forum earlier this year featured speakers who took on massive, established consumer packaged goods categories like food, beverages, or grooming (see our conversation with Michael Dubin of Dollar Shave Club, for example). In this short clip, watch Kara Goldin, the founder of hint water, explain how she came to build the fastest growing company in her category. Below is the talk, and a transcript edited for clarity.

Kara Goldin: What Bill (Kanarick, CMO of Sapient and moderator of the session), was saying in terms of the consumer was really where I saw myself years ago, that I was a changing consumer. A consumer that really was beginning to become more aware, not just of myself, but also of many of the consumer products that I was eating and drinking.

I found myself in a position just over 11 years ago now, where I was trying to lose weight. I was exercising, eating right, going to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and how many have done that before? Just decided to get healthy?

I was really looking at everything that I was eating and drinking, and diet soda in particular was a problem for me. I really thought that, if I actually change the diet soda consumption, I’m not sure if it’ll do anything, but I’m not sure that the ingredients in this product were all that great for me.

After shifting away from diet soda and drinking plain water, I realized that water was really boring and that’s why I hadn’t been drinking water for so long. I started slicing up fruit, putting it in water, and looked for this product in the market.

I never thought that I was going to be a beverage executive. I never thought I was going to be running a beverage company, in a million years, as I tell many young entrepreneurs. But it really became clear that that was my path. My purpose for really helping consumers to get healthy and moving them away from soda or flavored waters that have lots of other stuff in it, and helping them to actually drink water.

We launched Hint just over a 11 years ago here in San Francisco at Whole Foods on California and Franklin Street. We did that just by actually going in and asking the guy who’s stacking the shelves, “Hey, can I get some shelf space?” He luckily — and I really consider it luck — gave us some space, and thankfully the product sold. And today we’re the fastest-growing flavored water according to SPINS data across the US, nationwide. The product is in many tech companies, and now the largest beverage in tech companies as well.

Really the purpose has been and is still today really to help consumers actually get healthy, because it’s a challenge in society today when you see that. When I started this company almost two percent of the population had Type 2 Diabetes. Today we’re dealing with almost 40 percent of the population has Type 2 Diabetes or pre-diabetes. We’re getting sicker as a society, we’re not getting healthier.

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