Interview Replay: Kara on Takin’ Care Of Lady Business

Episode 381.5

Listen to the Taking Care of Lady Business Episode with Jennifer Justice and me as we talk about making ideas come to life, the trials of growing a brand and a business, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Hope you enjoy one of my favorite interviews!

Kara Goldin is the Founder of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has received numerous accolades, including being named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Northern California and one of InStyle's 2019 Badass 50. Previously, Kara was VP of Shopping Partnerships at America Online. She hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show and her first book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters, was released in October 2020 and is now a WSJ and Amazon Best Seller. Kara lives in the Bay Area with her family and 3 Labradors.

Listen to this Takin’ Care of Lady Business episode with Kara Goldin about making ideas come to life, the trials of growing a brand and owning your own business, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Here is what to expect on this week’s show:

• The story of how ‘Hint’ began, why it was created, and how Goldin got her product on the shelves of Whole Foods three hours before giving birth.
• Why pushing yourself is essential for growth and success
• How to use a niche background to your advantage in a different career environment
• Why persistence is key in entrepreneurship in order to find the solutions you want
• Why the advice “always hire experience” can prevent creativity and innovation

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be you just want to make sure you will get knocked down but just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go Let’s go. Today’s episode is a bonus episode. I hope you enjoy it. And please make sure to tune in Monday for a brand new episode of Kara Goldin show and joy.

Jennifer Justice 0:52
Welcome to taking care of Lady business. We put the business back in lady business hosted by Jennifer Justice founder and CEO of the Justice Department, a management strategy and law firm that works with female and woke male entrepreneurs, executives, talent brands and creatives to build and maximize their wealth focusing in the areas of tech, consumer products, finance, media, entertainment and fashion. Jennifer interviews entrepreneurial women who have done it all who will be sharing their secrets on all things business, especially as a woman, these highly successful women will share strategies and insights, including what not to do and what it takes to win. And now here’s your host, Jennifer Justice.

Hello, everyone, welcome to this episode of taking care of Lady business. I’m Jennifer Justice. Today we have the founder of hint, you know, the water that everybody has been drinking for years, there is an actual woman that founded this and her name is Kara Goldin. And we are so lucky to have you here today. Thank you for coming.

Kara Goldin 1:57
Thanks for having me. I love, love your show. And I’m really honored to be on.

Jennifer Justice 2:02
So let’s start like, you know, from the beginning, I mean, hint was started, how long ago

Kara Goldin 2:09
17 years ago, I always tell entrepreneurs that, you know, think that, oh, and a few years, I’m gonna flip it and you know, it’s all gonna be great. I mean, every story that I know around successful entrepreneurism is, it takes a lot longer than you ever thought. And so we started the company, in 2005, was when I actually got the first bottle of hint on the shelf at Whole Foods in San Francisco. But nine months before that, I actually wrote a business plan while I was pregnant with my fourth and my timeline was I want to have a little bit of maternity leave, give myself a little bit of maternity leave. So that really got me to, that gave me my deadline. Yeah, we get it on the Get it on the shelf. And I did the morning of, of actually delivering my son and a plan C section. At one o’clock, I had to be at the hospital. And so I decided that there was no better time to actually run over to Whole Foods and see if I can get it on the shelf at

Jennifer Justice 3:19
10am. My gosh. Well, I love that. I mean, usually it takes at least about 10 to 15 minutes into the podcast for less talking about like, see, you can do it while you have kids. Because that’s one of the biggest misconceptions that women have when starting companies. It’s like there’s some like magical right time before you have kids or, you know, when they’re in college. It’s like, you know, I quit rock nation when my kids were two and a half years old with no job. And I was like, that doesn’t sound at all like a good idea. But it was the best idea the best thing I could have ever done, you know what I mean? And I lead you to other things. And Jennifer Fisher when I interviewed her she was like she started her jewelry company with a newborn on her bed and she was bored and she was like in wanting that and had this need for this product which is attached some kind of talisman to honor her children and that’s how she started hers. And you know, you’re like um, you know at 10 o’clock I need to put it on the shelf and want to you need to have this baby. Like we really are warriors we can do it.

Kara Goldin 4:17
Well, it’s I’ll tell you another funny story about that day. I you know, we woke up my mother in law was staying with us because we had three kids, four kids under the age of six when I watched him not in anybody’s book like the right time. It was basically the product was delivered to us late that’s another thing I always share with entrepreneurs that you will never launch your product or you know or your service right on time because it will have delays along the way. And that’s exactly what happened. So it showed up at my doorstep actually pallets water were sitting in my garage space. So I lived in San Francisco at the time and I had a two car garage and they dropped it into the garage so I couldn’t get my cars in. So I’m trying to think about, Okay, I’m gonna get a bunch of tickets, the cars gonna get a boot on, didn’t get haven’t read on it. While I’m in the hospital, I’ve got to figure out what to do with this water. And so that morning of May 27 2005, I woke up and my husband said, What do you want to do before going to the hospital, you want to go to brunch, you want to go on a walk, I’m like, let’s go to Whole Foods, and try and get it on the shelf. So he drove me he brought a dolly with him. And I said, Can you help me put 10 cases on the dolly and wheel it in? And he’s like, of course, he was like, Are you sure this is gonna happen? And I’m like, of course it is. And so I find the guy that I had, had been having conversations with, he’s just in the beverage aisle stocking the shelves. And the first thing he said to me when he saw me, I said, Hi, do you remember me? And he said, Wow, you are really pregnant? And I said, I am and he said, like, how pregnant are you? Here I am. You know, I want to sell my product in and I said, Well, I’m actually having a baby in a couple of hours. And he said, How do you know you’re having a baby in a couple of hours? And I said, I’m having a plan C section. And he said, what’s the plan C section? Oh, my God. And so I went on to explain the difference between an action and an emergency C section. When I was done, my husband came back. He was like, Okay, I’m going to walk around the store because I’m, you know, mortified that you’re actually having this conversation when I was telling him where babies come from. And he recognized I think, at that point that he wanted to help me, right, we felt like, this lady is crazy. She’s going to go have a baby. And she’s actually delivering her product, trying to get it on the shelf. The morning that she’s having a baby. Yeah. And so I left the store, not really knowing whether or not he would put it on the shelf. He didn’t do it in front of me he had, you know, the case is stuck there than my son Justin was born. The next morning, I got a phone call from the guy at Whole Foods. And he said the product is gone. And I said who took the product? And no, it was so long overnight, we need product. I had never thought when I wanted to get it on the shelf. I never thought about running out of products, right? I mean, I just wanted a few people to buy it. Yeah. And he said, I’m gonna get in a lot of trouble if you don’t come and replenish the product. And so my husband went home and and grabbed the cases and went and was my delivery guy. And then soon he became the chief operating officer of the company. I mean, it was just it was such a crazy story. But the the moral of the story, I think for that is if you can actually there’s really two things there. First of all, you never know, when you’re actually selling to people, what you’re going to be talking about, and the more they get to know you. Yeah, they want to engage with you, the more likely they’re going to want to work with you. Now, right? They see how real you are. The gentleman at Whole Foods didn’t wake up that morning and think that he’d learned what a Plan C section was. But he was very curious. Yeah, how I knew this. And I’m sure he still remembers to this day. Oh, the founder of hint, actually told me where babies come from or how they’re delivered. And, you know, I think the other thing is, is that if you don’t try, there’s never a good time to actually go and have a baby or start a company or, you know, you have to just go out there and try and what was the worst thing that was going to happen? He wasn’t going to put it on the shelf to deliver my son Justin, but I thought that see what happens. And it did

Jennifer Justice 9:21
amazing. Yeah, I mean, I think I just read this recently, something about like sales, it’s it’s like sales and not trying to sell the product. It’s listening to the other person. It’s, you know, has nothing to do with you selling it. You’re listening to the person you’re communicating with. And then the product is going to sell itself situation. You know, there was let’s get back though before What were you doing before this?

Kara Goldin 9:43
So prior, I actually took a couple of years off. Prior to founding hands. I was at America Online and I ran their direct to consumer partnerships. So even backing up even before that I came in through an acquisition came to America Online. I was at a tiny little startup. That was a little known Steve Jobs idea inside of Apple, it was doing CD ROM shopping, if you remember this in the mid 90s, and I just moved from New York to the Bay Area. And I was super, super interested. And this idea of the internet and sort of where it was going there were when I was living in New York, there were a number of projects that were going on that were doing like, you know, trying to figure out cable modems, and all of the internet connectivity, but it was all very texture than and I had read Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about this little startup and I thought, oh, San Mateo is pretty close to San Francisco. And I cold call the guy that was the name that will put me article and I said, Hi, I just moved here from San Francisco, I understand you were for Steve Jobs at Apple, and you guys develop this product and you spun the startup out. I’m super, super interested. I’m not looking for a job I, you know, never had worked in tech before I had been at CNN prior. And the minute I said CNN, he said, What was Ted Turner life? And I said, Can we sit down and grab a cup of coffee, I want to hear what Steve Jobs was like, because I got obsessed with my Macintosh that I had in college. And so just assume that we were going to grab a cup of coffee, didn’t think that I would actually come out of my, I didn’t get an offer and the first cup of coffee, but the second cup of coffee. He was like, let’s talk about maybe you run business development. And I’m like, with all due respect, like, what would I do? Yeah, I mean, I have no idea what I would do for you. And he said, Well, we’re looking for catalogers. And so you know, who are the top ones and clothing. And there was this music company called tower records that was based out of San Francisco. And, and so he said, Can you go and really have to engage with some of these people within these companies. Little did I know that there was no person within these companies in 1996. That actually, like, ran the internet business for

Jennifer Justice 12:38
really early. Oh, my God,

Kara Goldin 12:40
early. And so crazy stories. Like I just decided, well, if I don’t know who it is that I actually talked to maybe I’ll call Mickey Drexler at the gap. He was running the gap at the time. And he would actually take my phone call because he was curious, and to know where this

Jennifer Justice 12:58
information superhighway was all about.

Kara Goldin 13:01
And so there’s so many stories that you know, along the way, America Online was one of our I got the job there was building out getting these catalogers retailers basically on had studied, a lot of people have asked me like, how did you know who to go out and find and I remember looking at malls? Yeah. And I thought that there’s this formula that goes on, when you have a high end mall, you know, you have a Nordstroms for example, maybe, you know, you have a Barney’s in there. But then how does that work? So I literally started calling mall developers to try and figure out again, wasn’t looking for a job. But how do I actually put it all together? And so then that’s when I would, you know, use that as a map. But there was no puzzle. There was no picture for the puzzle. I should yeah. Which is interesting. And so anyway, America Online was one of our investors we needed we got to a point where we were scaling, we needed more capital. And Apple was also one of our investors, and they didn’t want to invest anymore. And so America Online acquired us. And through the acquisition, they asked me to run this thing called shopping on and it’s interesting, because that was 1996. And America Online was not in first place. I mean, they were behind CompuServe and prodigy, we were, you know, definitely the underdog. And so fast forward. I mean, so many experiences there and dealing with, you know, many entrepreneurs building bookshelves with Jeff Bezos like along the way. I mean, she’s crazy, crazy stories. But at the end of 2001, it was a billion dollars in revenue to America Online, and I was able is pretty much all remote. Most of the retailers that I was working with were all over the US I was traveling like a not the United Airlines pilots out of San Francisco all knew me. And I’m like, I had my first child that in 99. And so I just thought, you know what, I want to be a parent, I want to be in business. But there’s so much going on in the bay area right now. And my company was based in Virginia. So I thought, and then I’m traveling all over to all these retailers, maybe I can do something else. I never thought about starting my own company or being an entrepreneur. But it was when I really started focusing on what my kids were, you know, eating and drinking and ingredients that I realized that I had my own issue that I needed to solve, which was get rid of my diet soda. My in particular, and that was when I realized my other problem that I had, which is I didn’t like drinking water. I just didn’t like the taste of it. And so I started slicing up fruit and throwing it in water. And friends would start asking me like, how do you make decisions about what fruits to put in water? And I’m like, really there? I mean, are we really? Is that really what the

Jennifer Justice 16:22
but it’s that simple? Right? It’s like it meets a need, like a starting an idea meets a need. And look, she’s drinking him on a right now. What flavor? Are you drinking?

Kara Goldin 16:32
Apple now? Okay, I’m drinking crisp apple right now. But yeah, and I mean, little did I know, sort of what I was going to embark upon at that point. I was, you know, many of my, all of my connections were in media, or were in tech. And I think here’s another sort of point, I don’t know if you have felt the same way in your career, but I was getting a lot of recruiters calling me for essentially the job that I had done. Right, Yahoo and Google and some of the other ones that were getting going that they wanted me to come and do exactly what I had built at AOL. And for me, I thought I could but I still know an entire team. At America Online, I want them to be successful. I want what I built and led to be successful. I don’t want to take it down, right for me to actually go out and compete against that. I could we don’t have noncompetes in California. I mean, that wasn’t the issue. But I just thought, I don’t think I want to and and that’s when I started looking at what else can I do? Maybe I want to stay in tech, maybe I don’t want to stay in tech. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this idea. And really saw how getting off of my diet sweeteners changed my life, I lost 60 pounds, and like almost, you know, a year and it was crazy, like I just thought

Jennifer Justice 18:05
for getting off of diet sweeteners. Right?

Kara Goldin 18:09
And so and it’s crazy, because, you know, 17 years ago, people would, you know, see me, they haven’t seen me in a few months. They’re like, what have you been doing? And I’m like, Oh, I’m not working, I’m staying at home. And they’re like, Okay, are you what diet? Are you are you exercising a lot, I was always exercising, but nothing was nothing was working. And then when I actually just got off of at the time, it was NutraSweet. And, you know, sucralose and some of the other diet sweeteners that were out there. And I really started looking at how it was messing with my system. And I didn’t really understand why it was messing with my system. And and so, you know, I think my curiosity just started into that. And then I thought, I can’t really figure it out. So I should just eliminate it. And that’s when I, I just, I mean, at one point, I actually thought I was sick because I was losing weight so fast. And it was I had never had that issue, you know, my whole life. But then I realized that I started drinking diet coke when it came out, which was in high school. And my mom was a tab drinker. I didn’t want to drink tab. And so, you know, for me Diet Coke came out in the 80s. And I thought, Okay, I’m going to I mean it. I’ll get used to it. It’s not exactly like a full fledged Coke, but I’ll get used to it because diet is better for me. Little did I realize that it actually was screwing up my metabolism and especially when I started having kids, I just could not lose the baby right? Your business is growing and customers love what you’re doing, but to keep them coming back. You need to keep Adding value and engaging them at every level. That’s where Thinkific plus can help. Think if ik plus is easy to use, tough to beat. So what is it think it’s up plus is a powerful learning platform that you can use to engage your customers, a platform that provides businesses with a powerful way to keep customers, vendors, partners or employees educated, informed and trained. Plus, did I mention how easy it is to use, and with Thinkific. Plus, you get more than just robust features. You also get a dedicated customer success team that is seriously dedicated to helping you reach your goals of engaging with who matters most. So many businesses rely on Thinkific plus to make their goals happen. Businesses like Hootsuite, for example, one of the world’s most widely used social media management platforms, they use think of a plus to host their online training site, Hootsuite Academy, offering everything from online courses for social media marketing, as well as platform training, by using Thinkific. Plus, they’ve been able to train and certify nearly a half million consumers and social media marketing. It’s really all pretty awesome. start educating your customers at scale. Think if the plus is a great option for anyone who wants that straightforward choice. Sign up now for one incredible offer, our listeners get one free month of Thinkific. Plus, when you use the special code, go to That’s K ra to start educating your customers at scale. Get your free month with promo code Kara Ka are a dots That’s think i f i

Jennifer Justice 22:09
So then cut to you figured out what you want to do with water. You’d like the fruit water or you’re like there’s nothing in the market at all right? Like at all that was dealing with it. So what was that process? How did you know? Like, what was your research? How did you find the people to formulate it all of that stuff? Like that’s not easy?

Kara Goldin 22:30
No. And you know, was creating it in my kitchen. And then I just started like doing some research online. I mean, again, this is like, this is at a time when Google wasn’t really even sort of what it was. Yeah, I mean, just kind of getting going. And my husband is an attorney. And so he had access to actually you, you’ll know about this nexus Lexus. And so I would go on Nexus Lexus, and I would start looking. That was my research. And it was really, you know, wasn’t as good as Google. But I started looking for companies that could actually bottle the product and help. And it’s interesting, because I would cold call many of these people. And the first question they would ask is, What did you do before? And I would say, Oh, I was in tech. Well, that was the wrong answer. Because they automatically assumed that I couldn’t do it. Right. And they would judge me based on okay, this is just another phone call that I’m getting. And, you know, the lesson learned on that is you just need one. I only needed

Jennifer Justice 23:41
one verse one investor, I won one whole foods, you know,

Kara Goldin 23:46
right. And so I just kept, like, kept at it and made a ton of phone calls. And then finally, I found somebody that was willing to take a chance on me. And so you know, that’s another piece like we figured out after doing the first round of product that we actually needed a different type of bottler, and we needed to figure out shelf life. And so I say we because I think my husband felt sorry for me, he was at a tech company called Netscape and was in house counsel, it was an intellectual property attorney. And so for me, I, you know, really wanted to do something that I wanted to create this product, but I started realizing early on that it was going to be a lot harder. And one of the reasons that it was going to be harder. Not only was we needed to figure out how to make it and get it shelf stable without my specs, which was real fruit, no sweeteners, and no preservatives in it. And no one had done a real fruit product with no preservatives in it. Yeah. And so To my husband was was really instrumental in sort of playing around with it, he had always been really interested in kind of science. And so we didn’t use a food scientist to go out. And then ultimately, we ended up finding that one day I was walking down the aisle at Whole Foods, and I realized that there was apple juice that wasn’t using preservatives. Again, I had never really thought about it. And I think, you know, this is another lesson that I share with entrepreneurs is that so often we’re, you know, when we want to do something, we look in the space that we’re in, we look around at our competition, but the lessons may actually be in a totally different industry. Parallel, yeah, right, in a different category, how are they doing it? And so I saw on the apple juice bottle that they were bottling at an apple juice, bottler down in Santa Cruz, and not too far from San Francisco. So I called the guy up. And I said, we’re doing a water company with fruit in it. He immediately said, I can’t do water, I only do juice. And I said, okay, just hear me out. Like, what if we brought the water into you? And we’re already using fruit? Can we talk to you about doing a pasteurization process, not using preservatives, like what you’re doing with the juice, and I’ve, I’ve never tried it. But if you’re willing to come down, and so he said, anacrusis, nice, nice. And so we went down, he actually said, you know, we can’t do it at during the normal times, because I’m totally super busy. But if you’re willing to come at nine o’clock at night, I’m willing to actually run the product, I told my husband, he’s like, grew up going to a bottling plant in Santa Cruz, and I reflected it, it’s like, I’ll go with you. So we both go down there and start playing around with the equipment. And what we realized is that, you know, sometimes you’re gonna find that one person that is willing to be creative and do something different. And they may not come up with the idea. It may be your idea to piece things together, based on just looking around. And, and so that’s how we,

Jennifer Justice 27:33
what’s persistence, right? That’s what you’re doing. You’re being extremely persistent, like you are keeping your eyes open and trying to find a solution. And I mean, isn’t that the definition of an entrepreneur, right? People who see the world as like, their solutions and other ones. So it’s like, everything’s a problem, right?

Kara Goldin 27:51
Yeah. And I felt like when I came into the beverage industry, the biggest thing that as I look back on, I think that having training almost in there, as I look at it in tech, I felt like tech, really, there was no roadmap, right? When you think about tech, it’s all about innovation. Yeah. And so you’re constantly thinking about how can we get better when I started to think, Okay, I want to go do a beverage. Everybody was saying, No, everybody was throwing up walls in front of me. And I was, it was so foreign to me, because I was like, where’s the innovation? Where’s the creative? Yeah. And so, I felt like, this is how you have to do things, but getting people to actually change and do things. And, you know, understand that innovation may actually come from outside industry, you know, not work with me, because I haven’t worked at Coke or Pepsi or Procter and Gamble. In fact, they have learned processes in the way that things done. They’re not working on innovation, they buy innovation.

Jennifer Justice 29:04
Exactly. Definitely too big. They can’t figure it out. They’re like, get in the way of themselves. So it’s a buy. Yeah, buying right.

Kara Goldin 29:11
And so that is, you know, that’s like a major, major lesson that I learned and, and again, but is it is it hard? Is it frustrating? Is it how do you get back up again, and just keep keep at it. And you know, that’s what we did. And we just kept innovating and trying to figure things out. So you bootstrapped

Jennifer Justice 29:32
from the beginning. And then it started growing and outpacing, like, tell me about the fundraising because you guys were raising money and you were raising money as a female founder before people were even calculating these statistics that we are still so dismal to this day, but it’s probably only been in the past 10 years that we’ve really been like, taking tabs on the percentage of women who get venture funding etc.

Kara Goldin 29:58
Yeah, you know, it’s it’s in First thing we saw, we bootstrapped it for the first couple of years, primarily by choice, frankly, because I felt like I still wanted to have dinner with my friends, people started to realize that we launched a beverage, they’re like, What are you guys doing? I mean, you’re not, you could go and work in tech, you could go and still be an attorney. But more than anything, I think we just like, it was something that I just felt like I was getting traction on, I was getting consumer response from it, that it was really helping people drink more water and get healthy. And so I really wanted to I was enjoying it. And I loved the build. Having said that, as I mentioned before, it was frustrating. But as I started to look at, you know, all of these requests, where people were like, oh, let’s get you into Whole Foods in Denver, and I’m thinking, I can’t drive to Denver. And, you know, I guess I could, but it would take me a little while, Cisco. So I need to start finding a distributor, I need to start getting the word out in Denver about, you know, what we’re doing and marketing span and all those things. So one of our distributors that we had just started working with, on the east coast, had have said, if you guys are ever going to raise money, we would be really interested in and putting some money in and they had invested in vitamin water. And so, you know, the thing that they saw, and hint, and here’s sort of another piece of this, that I talk about a lot is that when you’re starting a company, and you’re the only one doing it, right, your people would say to me, Oh, it’s just like vitamin water? And I’m like, no, no, it’s really different from vitamin water, there’s very few ingredients in the product. And there’s no sweeteners in it. What I didn’t realize when I got that first bottle on the shelf was that we were not only launching a new product and a new company, but also an entirely new category, right. And when you’re launching a new category, you know, a new genre, whatever, there’s a lot of education, right? Around the product. So you’re almost better off, right? Having competition. And I didn’t realize that until later, right? You’re always I mean, you’ve probably talked to entrepreneurs who are, you know, wanting you to sign an NDA is and everything else, because they felt this big secret. And it is like ideas or a diamond doesn’t see execution, because you need to create great products and great services and then get it out there. But so it was during, you know, sort of this time that I realized we really need to be able to be educating people. We had just launched, as I mentioned, on the east coast in New York City, which is a whole other story. It’s sort of like, you know, going to Vietnam, I mean, it’s really you have to be ready, we needed people to be able to replenish product and etc. So we raised money through this distributor, and then through a couple of other people that they knew as well. And then we started having people reach out to us and say, hey, you know, I’ve invested in tech companies, but you used to be in TAC. And so we would love to really love your product. We’d love the drink. We love you. We’ll invest in it. And, you know, a lot of crazy stories. I mean, John Legend is one in particular, he saw our product. And this was a little bit later in Starbucks and, you know, reached out, saw the phone number on the bottle and reached out to us and said, Is this a coke company is who’s behind this company, and wanted to invest and he did invest in the product.

Jennifer Justice 33:58
So in my old company did to all of a sudden the hint thing came up with Roc Nation, right, like Jay Yeah. Jay

Kara Goldin 34:05
and yeah, and I mean, it was just, it was crazy. And so we definitely were getting a lot of angel investors, a lot of women. Well, this was a time when there were women who were starting to a lot more angel investors were starting to invest. And it was, I guess, was like, it was interesting. We started to hear about or really hear from venture companies, tech companies that sort of knew me and and knew my husband and heard that we were doing this and so we didn’t have a problem getting the meetings with these people. But the here’s another lesson that I learned people invest in and like what they know. Exactly. And I think that that’s, you know, you’ll always have outliers, right? Who are going to invest in hand because they love the product. But if a venture firm or if an angel investor hasn’t invested in the category before, it’s really hard. I mean, it’s harder on a, you know, your chances of actually closing that deal are like a two, or, versus a, somebody who’s used to investing. And that’s what I found, like, it’s called sandhill. Road. And in Silicon Valley that, you know, there were a lot of these people who were investing in Google, they saw Hinton, Google early, so they know, yeah, lots of people at Google who drink this product. But when we would go in to those companies, you know, they just didn’t know enough about it and the things that they cared about, to like, the fact that, that we were getting into places like Google, and they weren’t seeing coke in there yet, but they’re like, well, won’t Coke and Pepsi like crush you, you know, once they sort of get into those locations that you’re in. And that’s what I was referring to. Before that what I learned is, when they finally did create a knockoff product, Coke did, and they didn’t, they eventually came into Google too. But when they came in, on the retail side, into a large retailer, what I realized is that it’ll be disruptive to have a competitor, a bigger competitor come in, because they have more pull, they have, you know, more money, longer relationships. But at the end of the day, you can’t really do much about it. And you have to continue to stay the course. In our case, what happened is that big retailer reached back out to us after a few months, and said, Listen, I felt really bad about, you know, kicking you guys out for this category, Captain Coke Cola wanted to get in and basically take the space that you had allotted, but I have great news, they don’t want to do this category anymore. And, and so in addition to getting your space back, you’re getting twice as much space, because we have given them twice as much space. And I was like, Wait, how does that work? And so, you know, they justified the category for us. So sometimes can come in and do that,

Jennifer Justice 37:23
again, actually help you at the end of the day, you just gotta keep staying the course and not because sometimes people can get diverted and like think only about that, where it’s like, you still had people who cared about their health, not a Coca Cola product, not known for caring about people’s health, you know what I mean? And so no, it’s great. It’s amazing. And I think it’s so important to hear, you know, from your perspective, having been one of the first you know, women to be able to raise this is to look back and go like, okay, these are the things that like I thought were really horrible, and challenges or, like, really scary. And ultimately, it was the right thing that it didn’t happen that these people who didn’t know anything about hint, you know, didn’t invest in us and, and there was a competitor at the end of the day, and ultimately, like sticking with your intuition about it, you know, and persevering. So it’s all, so many people listening are gonna learn so much from this, and it’s awesome. You know, obviously, we don’t have all day, I think we could do a three or 410 part series with you. But like, if you were going to start all over today, what are the couple of things that you would do, like learnings that you did that were the most important to do over again?

Kara Goldin 38:35
Yeah, probably the most important is believing that I couldn’t do it, right, because I didn’t have the experience. I didn’t know anything in the industry. And not sort of taking those lessons that I mentioned before, around, you know, innovation, typically, in every single industry comes from people that have been consumers and have lived outside of the industry and are super passionate. Yeah. And so my competition was not really, you know, the experience once and that was what everybody was saying around me. And that’s what they feared. The competition is the hungry people, right? The scrappy people that are thinking differently. And so I think figuring out how to continue moving forward and learn from those people learn from people outside of your industry, is another piece that, you know, things like everybody said that direct to consumer for a beverage company was impossible. It was way too much. We’d have to ship things, you know, lots of different reasons why it wasn’t going to work here. I come from the direct to consumer industry, but I started to believe it because nobody was doing it and until we actually try to do it and then main reason why we wanted to do it was to really have that relationship with the consumer. Because as we started to grow and get into retailers, we started to lose track of who actually was buying the product. Because if you’re selling through, you know, Kroger, for example, it’s Kroger’s data. It’s not your data. Yeah, it consumer. So I think making those decisions for your business and understanding why you’re doing things a little bit differently. And I think tuning out the naysayers, and have the courage, don’t have the knowledge to be able to go and try is such a key thing along the way. And I think finally, listening to your consumers, when you do have a consumer base, I think, on those hard days, when you really feel like the stench, you know, able to get, you know, anything done, I just like, you know, want to just not do this anymore. I had plenty of those days. But I think more than anything, going back and looking at emails, going back and, and hearing from consumers who were saying, you know, when changed my life, everything from weight to skin, it clearing up people’s skin to diabetes, and so all those things kind of equated to living healthier. Yeah. And if I was doing that, that’s something that I would be proud of. And, you know, I would as a parent, I could look at my kids, and hope that they would actually have a lot of respect for that. And, you know, that’s, I wrote a book two years ago called undaunted. And that was, it’s basically the story in the journey of building hands. And there’s a story in there about, you know, my son, Keenan, who’s now 20 years old, and he was talking about, at age 12, he saw Sheryl Sandberg on television, talking about leaning in and how women are such small percentages of CEOs. And he looked at me and said, Mom, I didn’t realize that women aren’t CEOs here he had grown up. Yeah, you’re watching me be a CEO. And I thought, okay, where are we going with this? And he said, Why is it that women aren’t CEOs because you do a great job, and you’re building a company, and I just don’t get it. And I was like, that’s a good point. I mean, I didn’t know where to go with this, right? The next day, he came back from school, he plays a ton of tennis. And he said, Why do we have girls tennis teams and Boys Tennis teams? And I’m like, Well, you know, set up probably a long time ago, I don’t exactly know, when exactly these were set up. And he said, but most of the girls on the girls tennis team are better than the boys. And so why can’t I play with the girls? And I’m like, you should try and petition for that. And you could practice with them. And he said, I will. And so unfortunately, he it didn’t happen. But again, it’s sort of a story of good for drying. And I think it really goes back to you know, sometimes, you know, doing what you do every single day, and kind of, you know, being a CEO of a company and doing things going up against the big guys are doing something that is not usual. I think kids also, you’re their role role. Yeah, I think that’s a really,

Jennifer Justice 43:50
and you are Yeah, yeah, he now you have boys in this world that are like, Yeah, of course, women can be CEOs, of course. Yeah. And that’s the thing

Kara Goldin 44:00
that I’m saying that, you know, they would have no problem being in the workplace, with women being managed by women. Yeah. They just don’t think it’s weird, right. I think if you’re that role model, yeah, definitely are that as well. I mean, you’re showing them just by example, that it can be

Jennifer Justice 44:18
done. Yeah. And yeah, exactly. Amazing, all amazing. And sage advice. And as you know, and I know, this is probably gonna be hard, because you got on a lot of it. But there’s one question I ask every one of my guests and that is what is the worst advice you’ve ever received?

Kara Goldin 44:35
I think the worst advice is, you know, that experience actually is the key to success. And so people want to see that you have a certain number of years of experience or that you’ve worked in a certain field or you had a specific title before The people that actually will disrupt and change things are the ones that don’t have the experience every single time. Because they’re passionate, they’re hungry. They want to go out and do it. And so I would say that the advice that always hire experience as well, is something that is terrible advice. Yeah.

Jennifer Justice 45:27
Well, and particularly for women, I mean, I think I shared with you with my thing, and I’ve shared on here before, you know, I was never going to hire because I would never been a president before. I was like, neither had Obama. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. So yeah, amazing. Thank you, Kara, so much. Tell us where people can find your podcast.

Kara Goldin 45:47
Yeah. So it’s called the Kara Goldin show. And, you know, it’s on Apple, Spotify, all of them. Yeah, and it’s founder stories. And so I interview lots of incredible founders who have you know, amazing stories, lots of lessons as well. So well thank you because

Jennifer Justice 46:11
I know you women in particular hearing from other women and saying that they can do it is really moves the needle. So thank you, and thank you so much for being on here and everyone listening I’m sure you learned a lot. This is taking care of Lady business, like and subscribe all those things. Until next time, I’m Jennifer Justus.

Kara Goldin 46:32
Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening