- Hint CEO Kara Goldin’s best entrepreneurship advice is to keep thinking of ways to solve consumers’ problems.
- That might mean expanding into new products. Hint started out selling naturally flavored water, and now sells sunscreen as well.
- Both products were born out of Goldin’s personal health issues.
Scaling too quickly or expanding too broadly can be a startup’s downfall. But there’s one question experts say entrepreneurs should keep in mind when expanding into new territory: Will the new product solve the same problems as the old?
Take Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint. When Goldin launched Hint in 2005, she was a pioneer in the naturally-flavored-beverage market. Since then, Hint water has become a staple at Silicon Valley companies like Google and Facebook.
More recently, though, Hint expanded its product offerings to include sunscreen; soon, the company will start selling deodorant as well.
For Goldin, moving into these different product categories didn’t seem like a particularly risky move. As she told Business Insider, she knew from the outset that she never wanted to be a beverage executive or launch a beverage company. Instead, she wanted to solve consumers’ health problems.
"I never thought of this as, ‘Ok, I want to go launch the next Red Bull," she said. "It really started with a purpose and a determination to solve a problem that started with me."
This is true of both Hint water and sunscreen. Goldin devised the water recipe when she was struggling with health issues and trying to find an alternative to diet soda. She then created the sunscreen after consulting a dermatologist about some precancerous skin cells on her nose.
In both cases, Goldin said, she realized there were tons of options on the shelf, but consumers had no easy way to tell which was the healthiest choice. And even if they could, it would probably be out of their price range.
Creating a safe, affordable sunscreen was a "similar puzzle" to concocting a nutritious, tasty beverage, Goldin said. "If you can satisfy a need to a consumer, that is what great brands do."
Startup founders should constantly keep their end users in mind
Goldin’s focus on her customers — and the problems they faced in their everyday lives — recalls advice from some other successful entrepreneurs.
Kelly Peeler, founder and CEO of NextGenVest, which helps students navigate the college financial-aid process, told Business Insider, "You should wake up thinking about your end user and go to bed thinking about your end user." And Evgeny Milyutin, cofounder and CEO of math-education startup Happy Numbers, said his best advice is to invest time in understanding your customer.
As for Goldin, she cautioned that "it’s not in your best interest to go and launch every product." But she perceives a clear link between offerings like water, sunscreen, and deodorant: They’re all helping people live a healthier lifestyle on a daily basis. "In my mind, we work for the consumer," Goldin said. "We solve problems."
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