AOL’s Youngest Female VP Turned A Self Realization Into A Business Worth Millions

In 2004, Kara Goldin was named Vice President of Shopping at AOL, making her the first female and youngest-ever VP in the storied company’s history.

But Kara wasn’t happy. She wasn’t healthy. And she didn’t feel fulfilled. So she did what we all fantasize of doing but rarely follow through on: she left the security and prestige of her high-ranking job behind to focus on herself and figure out what made her genuinely happy.

That’s when Kara found Hint. Or, as she likes to say, that’s when Hint found her.

Realization #1: Kara Was A Soda Addict

After leaving AOL, Kara began to look closer at her everyday life. It was during this period of self-reflection that Kara noticed her addiction to Diet Coke.

“I think I was drinking six cans a day at one point. It was crazy. I just knew I had to make a change,” she told me.

So she did — deciding the very next day to cut soda out of her diet completely.

“About a week later, my adult acne disappeared, I felt more energetic than I had in years, and even my mind felt clearer. It was incredible,” said Kara.

She knew it wouldn’t last, though — water, which she was drinking in place of Diet Coke, was just too bland for her. She needed some flavor or she’d risk relapsing.

So she decided to take a trip to Whole Foods to find a soda replacement that was healthy but still had some flavor. Sugar-free flavored water perhaps?

Hint Founder and CEO Kara Goldin (right) at a local Whole Foods 

Realization #2: Nobody Makes Sugar-Free Flavored Water

When Kara arrived at Whole Foods in search of sugar-free flavored water, the store manager said there was no such product on the market.

“He showed me Vitaminwater, but that was it. And I’m not sure if you know this, but around that time (early 2000s), a bottle of Vitaminwater had nearly as much sugar as a bottle of Coke!”

Kara looked everywhere for this product, but simply could not find it. Not in Whole Foods. Not in San Francisco. Not anywhere.

So, she decided to take matters into her own hands and make it hersel, in her kitchen, with no experience and zero plan for the future.

“I was solving a personal problem, and figured, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ The fact that I was finally doing something FOR ME gave me supreme confidence at a time when nothing was even remotely certain.”

A few weeks later, Kara had developed a recipe for Hint. It was dead simple: boiled fruit skins and water. Next thing you know, she was back at Whole Foods, talking to the store manager again.

“I told him, ‘Listen, I’m starting this company, and when it’s ready, I want you to put it on the shelf.’ He agreed, and I left the store feeling like everything was falling into place.”

Hint only uses flavors from non-GMO plants. No sugar or sweeteners.  

Fast-Forward 12 Years

Thanks to its simple ingredients (water and fruit essences, that’s it!), sleek packaging, and clever branding, Hint has grown from Kara’s kitchen into grocery stores and offices all over the world.

The world’s biggest tech companies stock their office fridges with it, celebrities like John Legend swear by it, and millions of customers are using it to wean off soda — just as Kara had originally hoped.

Moral of the story: inspiration can derive from anywhere, sometimes all it takes is a little self reflection.

Oh and by the way, Hint is giving Digg readers a chance to get the variety pack delivered to your door for $15 using this special link. Go forth, and stay hydrated!

Hint® is water—just more delicious. Made with nothing but water and natural fruit oils and essences, Hint Water and Hint Fizz have 0 sugar, 0 diet sweeteners, 0 stevia, 0 preservatives, 0 calories, and 0 GMOs. 

Originally Published on digg

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