Taste Radio Ep. 81: How a Tech Perspective Helped Hint’s Kara Goldin Build a Brand

A Silicon Valley state of mind has proved to be helpful in the food and beverage industry over the last year, especially for Kara Goldin.

The tech executive-turned-beverage entrepreneur has incorporated many of the lessons from her earlier career into the development of Hint, an unsweetened, flavored water brand that she launched in 2005.

In this week’s episode of Taste Radio, we spoke with Goldin about how her experiences in the tech world helped shape the business strategy. Goldin also explained how she overcame early challenges of a food and beverage industry long dominated by legacy brands — a barrier that is now becoming a benefit to many entrepreneurs.

One way Hint is taking on legacy brands is through the development of an e-commerce platform. Because the company’s direct-to-consumer model lets the team connect and get data from consumers, Goldin said it gives a brand the “ability to stay close to the customer and understand what the customer thinks about [her] product,” which she noted is “really the key to winning.”

Also included in this episode: a conversation with Billy Bosch, the co-founder and CEO of protein drink brand Iconic, who discussed how he developed a product in today’s popular and fast-evolving protein market. In this week’s Elevator Talk, we spoke with Mikaela Ray is the CEO of Mikaela’s Simple Devine, a maker of gluten-free biscotti cookies. This episode is presented by Sovereign Flavors.

Show notes:

0:55: Gassed From NACS: Jon and Ray recently returned from Chicago where they attended the annual National Association of Convenience Stores show. Packed to the walls with the usual plethora of energy drinks, salty snacks, soda, and jerky, the hosts talked about some of the new products and brands that caught their eyes.

7:47: Interview: Kara Goldin, Founder/CEO, Hint — Goldin discussed her path from a career in tech to the remarkable success of Hint. Included in the conversation is advice from her 12 years as an entrepreneur, including why brand owners shouldn’t “spend too much time around the naysayers and instead “focus on getting traction.” She also talked about Hint’s powerful direct-to-consumer platform and what she sees as the future for a brand that’s nearing $100 million in sales.

40:02: Interview: Billy Bosch, CEO/Co-Founder, Iconic Protein — Billy Bosch is the co-founder and CEO of Iconic, a protein drink brand launched in 2011. In our interview, Billy discussed the trials and tribulations of a brand immersed in a fast-evolving market for protein drinks.

1:00:04: Elevator Talk: Mikaela Ray, CEO, Mikaela’s Simple Devine — a maker of biscotti cookies that are gluten-free, kosher, Non-GMO and baked with all natural ingredients. We met up with Mikaela at Expo East 2017 and talked about the launch and development of her business.

Brands in this episode: Starbucks, Monster, Dunkin’ Donuts, La Colombe, High Brew, Heyday Cold-Brewed Coffee, Bowery Coffee, Califia Farms, La Colombe, Forto, Stok, Caffe Agave, BodyArmor, Aquahydrate, +Red Elixir, Hint, Iconic Protein

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