6 Surprisingly Simple Ideas That Made Millions

Kara Goldin (Courtesy of Hint)

What it is: Fruit flavored H2O

Created by: Kara Goldin

Launched: 2005

Estimated annual retail sales (2014): $50 million

After leaving her job at AOL in 2001, Goldin, a wife and mother of three, developed an interest in healthy foods and beverages. A longtime diet-soda drinker, she found it difficult to give up artificially sweetened drinks. “I aspired to drink plain water but found it boring,” Goldin says. So she started adding fresh fruit to her water, giving it a flavor that she, her husband and her kids enjoyed.

Goldin researched to see if there were similar beverages on the market and found none. So she invested $50,000 of her savings to launch a drink company. Her big break: A local Whole Foods store in San Francisco agreed to distribute the product a year later. By 2007, Whole Foods started distributing Hint water in all its grocery stores nationwide.

Over the years, Goldin has also developed beverage-dispensing partnerships with some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Square. Hint has become a popular choice among their health-conscious millennial employees, she says. The company is privately-held, and Goldin declined to disclose specific financial information pertaining to 2013 sales. However, in a recent Wall Street Journal article the company projects retail sales for 2014 at $50 million.

So, how did a sugar-free water beverage become so popular -- and profitable? Most big drink companies focus on products that are sweet, Goldin says, while Hint’s pitch has always been about health. “There are lots of consumers who have to drink water for health reasons -- they absolutely cannot have drinks loaded with sugar. We’re one of the very few options they have.” In May, Hint is set to launch an e-commerce platform, which will allow consumers to order and ship the beverage (in large quantities) directly to their homes.

Category: Business ideas

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