Kara Goldin started Hint Water 11 years ago because she was passionate about encouraging more people to drink water instead of unhealthy sweetened drinks.
She financed the company with her own funds for the first two years but soon realized she would need outside funding to continue her early success.
Her first investor was a wealthy family that was passionate about her mission and willing to be patient because they knew that the brand represented a whole new product category and would take some time to gain traction.
When she needed to raise more money, she listed her offering on the online angel investing platform, AngelList.
Hint Water raised $2.5 million in two weeks! It turned out that a lot of the investors on AngelList drank Hint Water and were huge fans of the brand. They especially loved the mission of the company. By the end of the raise, Hint Water had added about 100 new equity investors! Kara made sure to talk to every one of them before allowing them to invest to make sure there was values and personality alignment. Kara’s advice: don’t accept any investor that you wouldn’t want to go out to dinner or go on a hike with.
These investors purchased non-voting common stock. This means that there were no rights associated with the stock – no preferred dividends, no liquidation preference, no right to elect a board member, etc. Kara does make sure they receive cases of Hint Water every month! She also sends them quarterly financial reports. Some of the investors have asked for more detailed information or have asked her to present specific company to information. She has had to decline these requests and reminds them that it would be impossible to accommodate these kinds of requests for all 100 of her investors! She feels the best way to serve her investors is to build a great company and brand, and not to spend time responding to individual investor requests for information.
Many of the investors come from the world of tech and have been willing to offer advice on Hint Water’s online strategy.
After 11 years in business, Hint Water is on track to have its first profitable quarter.
I asked Kara what her plans are for the future of the company. She isn’t certain at this time, but said she would be interested in exploring an IPO. She knows that being the CEO of a public company can be a very tough job, especially since it is not a world known to be very friendly for women, but she is up for the challenge!