TMF S3E11 Kara Goldin
Monica Royer: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Mentor Files. I’m your host, Monica Royer, founder and CEO of Monica Andy. Join me as I chat with leaders across the fields of entrepreneurship, parenthood, health, and lifestyle. This season we’re digging deeper than ever before to learn the story behind the story. Think of the show as one part Audible MBA and one part certification to be the confident CEO of your own life.

Here we go.

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. For Kara Golden, that took on a real life meaning when she realizes she needed to cut soda out of her diet, but wanted more flavor than water alone provides. That led her to found Hint Inc., which made major waves with its real fruit infused water and has since expanded to new lines.

From the outside, it might have looked like Kara was a fearless entrepreneur, especially since she was navigating the journey while raising four children. But as she has since revealed in her book, Undaunted, Kara dealt with her share of imposter syndrome. Now, nearly 20 years on [00:01:00] from the creation of Hint, Kara and I spoke about her journey as a CEO, entrepreneur, and so much more.

Let’s dive in.

Sure. Happy to do it. 3, 3, 2, 1. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. For Kara Golden, that took on a real life meaning when she realized she needed to cut soda out of her diet, but wanted more flavor than water alone provides. That letter to found hint Inc, which made major waves with its real fruit infused water and has since expanded to new lines from the outside.

It might have looked like Carola was a fearless entrepreneur, especially since she was navigating the journey while raising four Children. But as she has since revealed in her book, undaunted carrots out with her share of imposter syndrome. Now, nearly 20 years on from the creation of hint. Karen, I spoke about her journey as a [00:02:00] founder, CEO, entrepreneur and so much more.

Let’s dive in.

Today, I’m very excited to be welcoming Kara Golden, the founder of Hint Water. Kara, welcome.

Kara Goldin: Thank you so much. I’m so thrilled to be here and I’ve heard such amazing things about you over the years, so I’m super excited to meet you.

Monica Royer: Well, thank you. And likewise, I can’t wait to share, and we’ll definitely share a link, your book, Undaunted. It was like such a heartfelt book about your experience and what you’ve been through. And as I started this podcast, it’s all about How can I pay it forward with this incredible advice that I’m getting from so many people?

And so, really interested to talk to you today. Somebody that came in as an amazing person. accidental entrepreneur, as you termed it, and then, you know, built this incredible, like multi hundred million dollar business on the other side of that. And kind of like, now can take a look [00:03:00] back a little bit at that journey.

And I talked to so many people that are midway through the, you know, the building the company, obviously you’ve, you’ve got a long journey ahead of you, but really thinking about how you built and exited the company. And it’s exciting to talk to people that are at least the, at the end of that initial company journey.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, definitely. Well, it’s, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s super exciting. Where, where do you want me to start?

Monica Royer: Yeah. So I mean, to start, I think it’d be great to understand a little bit about this idea that you were an accidental entrepreneur. I think most people are going to be familiar with Hintwater. Um, and we’ll definitely get in a little bit to your experience, but let’s start with how you didn’t. It was like you never were looking to start a business.

And I’d love to start there because so many great entrepreneurs that I know get into it accidentally. And that really struck me.

Kara Goldin: Yeah. So I, I grew up and again, like, it’s so much easier to look back at, at, uh, you know, those kinds of experiences and how [00:04:00] you got to where you are. But looking back, I, My dad was an accidental entrepreneur, but he was never called an entrepreneur. He, I grew up in a house where he worked for a very large company, uh, ConAgra, actually started at Armor Food Company, which was also a very big company.

They got acquired. He had started a product inside of Armor Food Company called Healthy Choice. And he always, uh, wanted to create healthier products. This is in the seventies. I mean, it’s crazy that he was really thinking about this back then and all the ingredients. He was way ahead of his time, but it was, it was really when I finally graduated from school.

I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. I ended up moving to New York. I thought I was, I always loved to write. I thought I was [00:05:00] going to get into journalism. And I think that even before I got that role in journalism, I went back to my dad and I said, So, What would you do if you’re looking for a job right now?

What would you do? And I kind of was asking that question thinking he was going to tell me to go and work for a certain company or some kind of, you know, role specifically within a company. This is what you need to do. And, uh, What he said to me still sits with me today, and frankly, something that I share with my kids is that go and find a brand that you want to support, that gets you excited, that has feelings inside of you or creates feelings inside of you that you get really excited about, and you can think about it as a, a company that has developed super cool services or products or [00:06:00] whatever, but that’s where you’re going to find really smart people, right?

And so that was what I did. I thought that was such a gold piece of advice that I still think about today. So that’s what I did when I was looking for this journalism role. Fortune magazine was, uh, for me some, a product, uh, a magazine that I really felt kind of, uh, It was that brand, but it also had the elements of a ton of creativity.

I was interested in finance, but it also story told around finance and many entrepreneurial stories as well. But that was what I, when I worked there, uh, not at, or sorry, backup. I went to go and get a job at fortune and that didn’t work out. They were not interested in having me. So I ended up Getting a job in the building, actually working [00:07:00] for time and I thought, okay, that’s also a brand.

So that works out pretty well. Once I was inside and really could see how things worked. That’s when I decided to go and look at. other opportunities. And there was another brand that was actually recruiting me, a much smaller brand that was much more entrepreneurial. Uh, it was a brand called CNN. And, uh, again, like CNN wasn’t a big brand.

Like, Fortune or Time Magazine. It was a smaller brand that was only in about 40 percent of the, uh, of the U. S. at that time, about 12 percent internationally. So I decided to try a smaller brand versus a larger brand, and that’s how I was thinking about it, and had an amazing experience at CNN, and got to experience incredible growth at that company when I was there.

[00:08:00] And then I ended up moving out to the Bay Area, which is where I still live. And that’s when I still used that aspect of, of thinking about, you know, Where am I going to look for a job? I didn’t know people in San Francisco and there was one product because I really thought about getting on the product side that maybe it might be something somewhere that I could touch something.

I could feel something and it might be really. You know, great to be able to support something around there. And there was only one product that I associated with San Francisco. I’m sure there were many other products, uh, and it wasn’t even San Francisco. It was really the Bay area and that was Apple and Steve jobs.

And so I was obsessed with Macintosh. I had one in college. I thought, here’s somebody that’s developing good looking things. When. Typically, computers were, you know, big and [00:09:00] bulky and not that interesting. He’s developing something. There were two problems. One, I didn’t know how to get a job at Apple. Uh, I thought.

They’re never going to hire me because I’m not an engineer. Uh, and two, it was in this place, this town, uh, called Cupertino. And, uh, I was living in San Francisco, so I quickly did the math to figure out that it was too far to be able to commute every day, but in that research, I saw that there was a little startup that was a spinout of Apple, and I thought, They’re smart people probably working at Apple.

If they worked there, then they’re going to go into this little startup. It’s not a brand, but maybe it will be. I don’t know if it will be or not. So that’s when. I ended up getting sort of a feel for a very small brand, uh, that was brand new called 2Market that was the early days of direct to [00:10:00] consumer.

Uh, it was CD ROMs, if you’re familiar with that. I mean, it was, it was, yeah, it was crazy, you know, We get orders over the telephone and the fax machine. There was no, uh, you know, it, we called it EDI was like sort of the evolution of, of that time period. It was crazy. But even after working, and then that company ultimately was acquired by another brand called America Online that was, Uh, not the biggest brand in the internet space.

They were like number three in comparison. But when I looked back, when I left AOL, when I looked back at my entire journey, what I saw was a mixture of brands from nothing to something and also brands that were, uh, In, in the underdogs, they had [00:11:00] a person behind them. They had stories, they had a purpose, they had a reason.

And I thought, that’s what I want to do. I want to go and build these things. And so I call myself an accidental entrepreneur. Apologies for the long story, but I call myself that because while I never really thought of myself. As an entrepreneur, I always tended to want to work for these entrepreneurs who wanted to change something in some way and build a brand that could have staying power.

And it didn’t matter what industry. I thought I just wanted to do something that really had some sort of, uh, I’m going to change things in a way.

Monica Royer: And then how did you go from that, Kara? That’s really interesting to think about the background. And I love the idea of you like the big company, but then thinking about like the smaller, [00:12:00] scrappier, the startups, the kind of the offshoots of some of that and the innovation that comes in doing so. When, when was Hint even a glimmer in your eye?

Like, how did that come to fruition for you?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, so I was starting my family in San Francisco, and that was, I, I said, I’m going to take a break. I want to, uh, get my family organized here. My husband was an attorney in Silicon Valley. He was actually doing a crazy commute down to Mountain View. And I just, uh, I wanted time to spend with my kids. And I thought, you know, if people call me to go and interview for a role, Maybe, I mean, I might go and talk to them, but I wasn’t in a rush to do anything.

I still didn’t think that I was going to go and start my own company. But as I was spending time doing what I wanted to be doing at that point, which was, you know, paying attention to what I was putting in my kids bodies, uh, I [00:13:00] was, you know, buying strollers and try, you know, living like a new mom. And I had kids very close to one another.

Actually, when I started Hint, ultimately in 2005, I had four kids under the age of six. So I was, I was not the, I was not the profile of somebody who thought, who you would look at and say, for sure, she’s going to go start a company. But what I was doing was really absorbing a lot of different industries that I just hadn’t paid attention to.

And one of them was, Food and drinks, and I never thought that what I was doing by taking a close look at those things was ultimately going to end up to be hint water. But again, I was looking at, you know, for my kids first, and then what I realized as I was trying to limit the amount of sugar [00:14:00] and processed crap that my kids were expected to be eating, uh, that was easy.

Uh, easy for me as a consumer to purchase, I realized that two things, I wasn’t going to give them diet sweeteners. There were a lot of diet sweeteners like at that time it was sucralose and Splenda and NutraSweet and I thought, I’m not going to give that to my kids, but I’m also, I don’t want them to have so much sugar.

And so as I was starting to eliminate things, that’s when I thought, I’m a hypocrite. I’m drinking so much diet soda every single day and I did not understand what was in the drink. I, I remember calling, uh, Coca Cola on the phone and talking to their customer service line. I bet you didn’t know they have a customer service line, but it took me, took me a little while to dig it [00:15:00] up, but I got there and, uh, and that’s when I realized that.

it was just frightening what we were putting into our system. And I had some problems that I was trying to solve around, um, my skin had developed terrible adult acne. My, um, I had gained a bunch of weight from all of these kids that I just couldn’t get off. It wasn’t even something that I necessarily was talking to my friends or my family about, but it was like, it bugged me.

And I knew I had changed in some way. And I was always a big runner and, you know, was doing all the things from an athletic standpoint that I thought I should be doing, but something had definitely changed. And it was crazy when I gave up my diet soda for drinking plain water. I knew that that was better for me when I started to see that the, my skin cleared up my, I started [00:16:00] losing weight.

And the weight that I’ve been trying forever to, you know, get this weight off. But then I thought, you know, it’s crazy. There’s so many people out there that are jumping into diets, are really trying to eat better. Uh, and, uh, If it’s really as easy as paying attention to the sweetener aspect of it, maybe I could actually create something in the water space that really helps water taste better.

Because I thought, everybody knows that water tastes good. is good for you, right, is better for you. But they drink juice, they drink all of these, you know, other drinks, including diet soda, because they want something that is more flavorful. And that’s what food and drinks do. You know, we’re all about, right?

We don’t want to live in a bland society. And so there are a number of people who [00:17:00] really enjoy the taste of water. I happen to not be one of them, but I wanted to have something that, um, that I wanted to have something that just had some flavor to it. So that was when I started throwing fruit in water in my kitchen.

Uh, still didn’t think that that was necessarily going to be the product that I was going to develop, but. When I started thinking about how can I develop something before I go and get that next tech job, how do I develop something that can be for sale for me? Like, I, I didn’t even think in a million years, I knew nothing about this industry and I just thought.

Maybe I’ll just kickstart it and then I’ll just hand it to Pepsi or Coke or Nestle or somebody to just go do it. And, uh, and that’s when, you know, I realized that there were so many aspects to it that they weren’t [00:18:00] that interested, frankly, in jumping into and creating this business.

Monica Royer: Thinking about where we are today in terms of flavored waters and how you kind of started that. I mean, you created an entire industry that would follow because I think like that has become such a big part of so much of even there’s a whole grocery aisle now. That’s just. multiple choices, but you were really like the first in so many ways, which is an absolutely incredible place to be.

How long did it take? And I always like asking entrepreneurs this, because sometimes people think that you can start a business overnight or sometimes you can, but from the time that you were throwing fruit in your water at home to the launch of hint, how long was the time between those things?

Kara Goldin: So I quietly, I had made the decision that I was going to try, but I wasn’t Sort of going out and broadcasting it, including I didn’t even tell my husband that I was [00:19:00] like actually thinking of doing this. I, you know, in passing, I would say to him, why isn’t this water out here? I went to, uh, you know, San Francisco.

So I went to Rainbow Market. I went to all these places that I thought for sure. They would have something like this and, and they didn’t. And so it was when I guess I was almost four months pregnant. Um, I had, uh, you know, wondered if I was, if, uh, if I was pregnant at, uh, three months, I had kids really close to one another again.

So I was, um, my cycle was all over the map. And so it was finally when I did a pregnancy test at four months while I’m trying to develop this product quietly. That’s when I realized that I was pregnant and, and poor, poor Justin, who’s now, you know, a freshman at college, he’s, uh, you know, he’s like, okay, I get it.

I was an oopsie [00:20:00] baby. Like I’m over it. Like, he’s like, you’ve said it enough over the years. It’s all good. But, um, But anyway, so that’s when I decided, I don’t know how I’m going to do all this, like, I’m going to stay, I’m going to be a mom, I’m going to start a company, and you know, I’m having a baby. And so my timeline, really was, uh, was developed, I guess is the best way to think about it, uh, by my just, my Justin being born because I thought, I, I only have a few more months before this next baby is coming into our life.

So I better get it on the shelf at Whole Foods. And so it was about nine months, I guess, ultimately. And, uh, but it was four months when I broke the news to my husband We were going to launch a company and launch a baby and he walked out of the room when that happened. Uh, I talk about it in [00:21:00] the book. He, uh, he just said, this is crazy.

I can’t even, I mean, I can’t even believe it. So, um, but it was, yeah,

Monica Royer: I was going to say, what I love about motherhood is there’s so much efficiency that’s created. Like I too started the brand as I had my daughter and there’s so much about only having so much time a day to get stuff done that you just have that. It’s like, even for me still, it’s like drop off, pick up.

Like there’s just, there’s, there’s these time constraints on the day and your time. Um, and so, you know, that like. As a mom or a parent, you’ve just got to be so efficient in terms of how you spend that time. And so I found that sometimes like parents, moms are like the very best entrepreneurs, the most entrepreneurial people in an organization because their time is so constrained.

And so every minute has got to count. And I think that in some ways, sometimes that creates better products and better things.

Kara Goldin: Yeah. Well, and you’ll appreciate this. So [00:22:00] the, uh, every time. Especially if you have a physical product involved, what I’ve learned, there’s always going to be delays, right? You think that something’s going to launch on a certain date and then it gets pushed out always. So our first run of Hint, we were getting two pallets.

We lived in San Francisco, lived in San Francisco. We had a two car garage. And so While I wasn’t home, I think I was doing drop off or something, I come back and the two pallets of water were in my garage in my car space. So I’m going tomorrow for a planned C section. And all I’m thinking about is I have my mother in law coming in and, uh, we have a nanny that doesn’t drive and I’m thinking.

How, where are we going to put the car? I mean, there’s, there’s no [00:23:00] car spaces. There’s street parking. We’re going to have to pick up the car from, you know, the, the towing, the city towing. And so I’ve like thought this entire thing through and all my husband is hearing is Where are we going to put the car?

And he’s like, you’re having a baby tomorrow. There’s a lot of other things that you should worry about. And I was like, I know, but where are we going to put the car? Cause we got to put the car somewhere, like we got to get rid of this pallet. So I’m

Monica Royer: Oh my.

Kara Goldin: okay, we, it’s too heavy to move it. Nobody’s letting me move anything anyway.

So. I just looked at my husband and I’m like, can we go to Whole Foods the next morning? I thought about this all night. I said, can we get a Whole Foods and see if we can get the product on the shelf? I didn’t think that I could get it all on the shelf, but I thought that would make me feel a lot better because I’d be solving this problem in my garage.

But also if I could go [00:24:00] in. to the hospital knowing that I’ve actually launched the product, then I’d feel so much better about that. And

Monica Royer: That’s a really serious efficiency, Kara. I’m impressed. I mean, that’s like, that’s an efficient, beyond even the efficiencies I think I’ve seen. If you’re like, C section the next day, pallets in the garage, got to get the product on the shelf. Like that’s, that’s pretty impressive.

Kara Goldin: yeah. And so I, I, uh, you know, my husband thought we were going to go on a walk or go to brunch. We didn’t have to be at the hospital till I think one 30. So instead I said, if you can just bring the dolly and let’s take 10 pallets or 10 cases with us and let’s go to Whole Foods. And I mean, he’s like, okay.

I just want you to calm down and not like be so stressed out before you go to the hospital. I’m like, this would really help me to calm down if we could just go do this. So we go and, uh, that’s when [00:25:00] We see this guy at Whole Foods who I had kind of been having a conversation with about, uh, launching the product.

But again, I had been away for a few months actually developing the product. And the first thing he says to me is, Wow, you look really pregnant. And I said, Oh, yeah, I am. I’m super pregnant. I’m having a baby in a couple of hours. He said, How do you know you’re having a baby in a couple of hours? I said, Oh, I’m having a plan C section.

And he’s like, So what’s a plan C section? And my husband was like, Get out of here. She is seriously going to like talk to him about her plan. C section we’re here to launch a product. And so he, my husband walked away. Theo is his name and walked away. And, uh, that’s when I started to share with this nice guy stocking the shelves, what a plan C section was versus an emergency C section.

And, and he was like, you are [00:26:00] hysterical. I was like, okay. I’m so funny that if you would put this product on the shelf, that would make me laugh even more. I’d be so happy. And I, and he said, I’ll try. And that’s when I left Whole Foods that day, not knowing whether or not he was actually going to put it on the shelf, but I thought it’d be super awesome if he does.

And Justin was born. He’s all healthy. Everything’s great. And, uh, and then I got a call from the guy at Whole Foods. The next day and he said, uh, he said, so the product is gone and I’m like, who took it? And he said, it’s we put it on the shelf and it’s gone. It’s bought. It’s sold. Like, how are you going to replenish it?

And so I, I said, well, I have a whole pallet in the garage. Like, we’ll get you a ton of cases right away. Cause then I’m like, score. I can get my car back in the

Monica Royer: Yes. Wait, Cara, how did you [00:27:00] even, from starting with the, like the flavor and the water that you were doing? And I have so many entrepreneurs ask me this, so I’m so curious, like, how did you even get into Whole Foods to begin with? Like, how did you, like, because that’s a big feat. You know, you’ve got a product that’s not been out there before.

And. I mean, Whole Foods is where I feel like I discover so much stuff there. It’s the best. So how did you do it?

Kara Goldin: Yeah. Well, again, like I didn’t know anything about the industry. I remember, I remember creating this product and again, going, you know, going back to my dad who was in the food industry, I thought food beverage kind of the same. It’s not at all. And his product was frozen. It’s so different than a shelf stable, uh, beverage.

But I remember asking him like, How do I get into, I don’t care where it’s sold, if it’s sold at Safeway or Whole Foods, or it seemed like it was probably more in sync with what I would [00:28:00] purchase at a Whole Foods. But, you know, I, I just wanted to get it on the shelf. And it was interesting because he was like, I have no idea, like the company does that.

at a higher level and then divides up all their products into, in his case, into the frozen case, but he was no help at all. And so he is like, I have no idea. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe you just go in and start asking people and, and that’s what I did. So this gentleman, when I went in to, to actually Just seek information.

I, that’s when he said, uh, Whole Foods actually has this program, uh, for locally produced products. Are you locally produced? And I’m like, um, yeah. And, and at first we were making it in our kitchen. And so I wasn’t lying. I was just like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, we are. And then we ended up making it in the Bay Area down in Watsonville, [00:29:00] which is by Santa Cruz.

And so close enough. I mean, I just said yes, it’s it’s local. And he said, well, you know, We, we, we save a certain amount of space for local companies. And so if you’re local, we can give it a try. If it doesn’t sell, then, you know, it’s not going to stay there. And frankly, I’m not sure if, uh, Whole Foods still has that program or not.

Um, after they have grown and went through an acquisition with Amazon, I’m not sure, but back then they did. Mm

Monica Royer: So what was it like, Harry? You come back, you have Justin, you’ve got product that’s flying off the shelves at Whole Foods. You’ve got more than one child as you’re navigating into the future. And this season of the podcast is a lot about, you know, the story behind the story on things. So what was the behind the scenes like?

As this, like, new mom to, you said [00:30:00] four children, so Justin was the fourth, and you’ve got a business that’s taking off. What was that like?

Kara Goldin: Yeah. I mean, it was crazy. Look, I had help. So it wasn’t like I was, uh, you know, trying to do all of this. Uh, but I was definitely stressed because I, stressed and stretched because I was trying to create this product. I, you know, it’s funny when you develop a product, you put so much thought into it. focus into actually getting it off the ground.

And I think this is true, whether it’s a physical product or a service. But when people actually are starting to buy it. I mean, you’re always hopeful, right? That your product is going to be sold, uh, that, you know, you’re starting this company, but you don’t imagine that it’s going to happen quickly, right?

When he’s, when the gentleman at Whole Foods is telling me that the cases are [00:31:00] gone, my first reaction was, you know, who took the cases? It wasn’t like I knew it was going to happen. Yeah, like I knew it was going to happen. I always thought that everyone wanted this right and unsweetened flavored water. So, I mean, I was, I was excited.

I was, um, I felt like, uh, I wasn’t ready. You know, you go through this whole process of thinking, you know, gosh, this happened faster, even though you had been planning it for, for nine months. Um, but then what you also notice is this, he was giving me trial. Um, and, and so it was great because I was seeing which flavors really, uh, resonated with consumers.

Uh, but we had this other problem, which was that I was creating it [00:32:00] and. We didn’t really know how to create this product. I mean, it was, there were, uh, we were trying to create a shelf stable product that had longer than a few weeks, um, shelf life. And so when you’re, my specs for the product were fruit, Um, and, you know, the essence of fruit.

So I was actually taking the fruit and creating our extracts, uh, and at first doing it at home on my stove, um, but I didn’t want any preservatives in the product because I felt like once you preserve something, number one, the taste kind of changed a little bit, but also It just typically you’re adding things to it.

So it would be more on the ingredients list. And I really wanted to try and figure out how to do that. And [00:33:00] so I think there’s, um, it was scary, right? Because I thought here we’ve got demand and there were things that I hadn’t really thought about. And, um, As I had a newborn at home and I had these three kids and I mean, I started thinking, we’ve got to figure this problem out.

And when I went out to in the industry, I actually tried to avoid whole foods because they kept asking me, when are you guys going to have this product have? greater shelf life and I didn’t have the answer. So I was delivering the cases. We didn’t have a distributor at the time, but I like quickly ran in and quickly ran out and also like hoped that it continued to go so that it wasn’t going to be an issue with the shelf life.

But as I started to call around to a number of bottlers, nobody really wanted to take on the project. You know, it’s [00:34:00] interesting even though I had. had an amazing run at America Online and I had risen from, you know, a very junior level position to, uh, one of the first vice presidents in, in America Online.

One of the first female, uh, vice presidents at America Online. Um, nobody in the beverage industry cared about that. They wanted to know, where did I come from? Because they were betting on me. And so it didn’t matter that I had been a successful executive in another industry. They wanted to hear that. I had developed a product before that.

I. you know, had come from, uh, Coke, Pepsi or something that they thought I knew what I was doing. And so it was very difficult to find somebody to sort of go through that journey of, of doing something that nobody had done before.

Monica Royer: And did you take on funding, Kara, at that time? Or did you [00:35:00] bootstrap it? Like, how did you, you know, it sounds like, I mean, so many lessons here, like you just walked into Whole Foods and asked for something and you found a path, which is really interesting. You didn’t spend a ton of time, like there was like a, obviously a, a need for the products because you, yourself desired the product.

And so you knew that there was like a hole in the market. Um, and what a market that that’s become over time, right? That’s, that’s an aisle now, at least at Whole Foods. And then you didn’t, you know, you developed what you liked, but you didn’t like, you didn’t think through every single detail, which I do think is like smart as I talk to entrepreneurs, it’s like, go out there and see if people like it and then tweak it and figure it out rather than, you know, having to spend all this time, like developing something before it, you know, and then just finding out that there, there isn’t like a need for it.

So how do you go in with like your. A prototype to begin with and then, and then, you know, build from there, but then it becomes, all right, the demands there, how do you finance the demand? And [00:36:00] sometimes you’re able to bootstrap and do it, but what were the next steps there?

Kara Goldin: Yeah. So a couple of things for, I totally agree with you. I always tell people like, I wanted the product to be safe, obviously, for consumers. Um, but I also, it, I knew it wasn’t perfect even that day when I got it on the shelf. And something that I learned particularly in tech, uh, which I’m so grateful to be able to have that experience.

Cause I think it’s done probably. As an industry, you see it more often in tech than you do in consumer products, especially around food and beverages. It’s it’s we can always upgrade or that will be part of the next upgrade. I mean, Apple iPhones are probably the best example today to think about that whole concept.

But back then, uh, I thought, I’ve just got to get it out the door so I can go have my baby [00:37:00] and, um, and we’ll see what happens. And definitely, like, lots of things ended, ended up changing. Um, but the other piece of, uh, of that that you’re talking about is how did we finance it? So I had saved some money from America Online and I thought, you know, there’s definitely, I can continue pulling money while we’re trying to figure it because we had so many things that we still wanted to figure out.

So I didn’t really want to go and raise money while I was trying to figure out what the heck am I doing? In fact, many of my friends, most of my friends were in tech and tech. You know, a couple of them that I mentioned to that I was starting this company in beverage. They were like, wait, what? Like, why are you doing that?

I mean, you’re very marketable. You could go get another job. There was never this idea like, Oh, that’s so cool. You want to go and start something in a totally different industry and go back [00:38:00] down to the bottom to being the, um, least knowledgeable person in the room. That just seemed so exciting to me, but it certainly wasn’t popular amongst the people that I talked to.

So as I was learning, and I was, you know, really trying to figure out what I was going to do, um, that’s when my husband, who had joined me, while he was, um, in between jobs as sort of the interim chief operating officer. He continued to stay there as chief operating officer for, for years. But he sat, he sat me down one day and he said, Okay, so you have all these kids, these four gorgeous little kids, we have these kids in private school in San Francisco.

Let me do the math with you and you can look at your bank account and you can see like this is going to go really, really fast, the savings [00:39:00] that you’ve got here. So how about this? If you don’t want to raise money and you. know, want your kids to be in good schools. There’s plenty of good schools around the Bay Area, um, outside the city.

And so. You sell your house, and then you can fund the initial part. I thought that I had just been sentenced to something. I mean, I was like, what? Like, so mean, so unfair. And, um, but, and we ended up coming out to Marin. And, uh, and it certainly wasn’t a sentence that I learned a lot. about myself, uh, being out in Marin and things that really, um, you know, make me Zen and make, calm me down.

I don’t have to worry about, uh, parking spaces in my garage anymore and street parking and, um, you know, nature and [00:40:00] I have tons of hiking trails out where I am. And, uh, yeah, I mean, it’s, uh, it was, That was, we basically used that money, um, in order, the sale of our house in San Francisco in order to fund. So, you know, today we still own just shy of 20 percent of Hint.

Um, and I think that the main reason why that’s the case is because we were able to kind of build up, um, you know, the value of the company before we actually went and raised anything.

Monica Royer: Incredible. And I know time is short and I’m honestly, Cara, I could listen to you talk for the next like couple hours. I’m so excited to learn more about the story. Undaunted, the book that you wrote. Tell us a little bit about why and like why the title. I really liked that.

Kara Goldin: Thank you. Well, I, you know, along the journey, I’ve always been a big writer. And so I would take all these [00:41:00] notes and I, more than anything, it was almost like therapeutic for me to be able to write these things out. And I also felt like if I would go back and look at what I had written, then maybe I could see some pieces in there.

that, that maybe I should go back to. I would make notes about who I met with or, um, you know, what did they say? And then I’d go back and see if I could solve the puzzle in some ways. And At, at one point, and this was years of writing, I had over 600 pages, and I had kind of condensed those pages down, but I was talking to a friend of mine who has authored many, many books, not in the same, uh, uh, area at all, but, um, I said, how do I actually take all these notes and put them into something where [00:42:00] entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs can see how, difficult this is.

I would also have parents coming to me who would tell me about, you know, their kids and how they want to be an entrepreneur. And they would want me to talk to them. And to your point, time is, you know, so precious. And especially because I was sort of balancing between being a parent and also starting a company.

And depending on the day, I’d say, absolutely, go start a company. And then I’d You know, if we were getting kicked out of Starbucks, then I’d say, don’t do it. It’s terrible. Right. And I thought I should really put this into something. And what the overarching message that I would always say to people is.

you’ve got to be undaunted because you’re going to have these highs and lows. These, I call them, they’re not even, they’re not even highs, like a, [00:43:00] like a hill, right? I used to, before I started Hint, I used to think that entrepreneurs experience, because I had worked for so many that, you know, there’s highs and lows.

But what I realized when I started Hint, you’re actually running a company, it, there’s spikes, right? It’s, it, it’s like, and, and anybody who’s ever started a company knows this, whether it was successful or not. It, when you’re at that high point, you always know that there’s, that the low point is coming, right?

And there’s a, and, uh, What is harder to kind of get your mind into, and I’ve been somewhat obsessed with this concept. So if I meet you at some point along the way, I’m always talking to people about this. It’s like you’re sitting down. At the bottom, and you know, it’s not going [00:44:00] to last forever, but it’s dark.

It’s super dark. Right? And so you, you have to get yourself back up to that higher point. And you know, it’s going to come. You just hope that the low point is short and and so, you know, There’s this, there’s this crazy balance that I really wanted people to read about and hear about and at the end of the day, you have to just live undaunted.

You have to say, I’ve got to just keep forging forward and, um, and do this. And if you aren’t choosing to live a life that is really about taking risks and, and, you know, choosing to be undaunted, then. That, that’s cool too. Don’t be an entrepreneur though.

Monica Royer: Oh, my gosh, Kara. So true. I love that. That is definitely the spirit to live by and something to think about if you’re getting [00:45:00] into entrepreneurship. Thank you so much for your time today. And hopefully this is only part one of many conversations. So much left to learn from you.

Kara Goldin: Absolutely. Thank you.