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Stay focused, Determined and Committed

 

I have been posting here now for a few years and most of the posts have been about my own success and how I didn’t give up, how I remained determined and committed. Now I would like to share another story of someone who never quit This is her success story.

 

Take the Hint:

If Something Bugs You, And You Fix It, You’re an Entrepreneur

By Whitney Johnson (Thinker, Writer, Speaker, Advisor, Doer)

 

I wish I’d thought of that.

Maybe you’ve had that moment, looking at a product—a super-successful product—and wondering why you couldn’t have been the visionary.

I’m not talking sophisticated electronics here, either. I’m talking products so simple that their invention seems obvious. Anyone could have thought of it—world class genius not required. So why didn’t I?

For me, it’s Velcro. Someone is laughing all the way to the bank because of Velcro, and it isn’t me. But it could have been. I’m smart enough to come up with Velcro. So, I’d wager, are you.

Being first to the empty playing field is the key. And that premier position often results from having a problem and discovering that no one, as yet, has devised a solution.

Solving a problem provides the origin story for a catalog of great little innovations, products that have accumulated over the decades and generations and offer elegantly simple solutions to everyday challenges. We take these for granted in most cases, and forget that once upon a time there was an ‘a ha’ moment behind all of them.

Kara Goldin, finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California, 2017, has one of the better origin stories I’ve heard. Kara is the Founder and CEO of Hint, most famous for Hint Water but now branching out with other offerings, like sunscreen. She’s my guest on Episode 20 of the Disrupt Yourself Podcast.

A dozen years ago, Kara was in mid-career shift: she’d left AOL but hadn’t yet settled on a new destination. During this gap she was focused on improving nutrition and health in her home for herself, husband and three children. Sweetened beverages, juice and diet sodas were on their way out the door and a new era of water drinking was dawning. It was not as exciting as it sounds.

In an effort to up the interest level, Kara started chopping up fruit and adding it to water. Let me pause for a moment to ask ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ Maybe because it’s the sort of thing I’d do once and think, ‘This is a hassle,’ and move on. A costly error on my part—and yours, if that’s the way you think about problem solving. Hint has annual revenues of over $100 million, and is rapidly expanding. So the sidebar here is advice to self and others to take your problem and its potential solution seriously.

Kara found the constant fruit chopping a little tedious and inconvenient herself. She thought, “Okay, I want to go the grocery store and grab this really quick. When I’m running to take my kids to the park, I want it in a bottle.”

She looked in the stores and made a discovery. “The things that were calling themselves water, at that time, had more sugar…than a can of Coke.” Kara had discovered a problem without the solution she was seeking.

One of the markets she searched was her local Whole Foods in San Francisco. “Healthier sort of item,” she thought. “Where can I find this product,” she asked a gentleman stocking the shelves. “Is this product out there?” Negative. “If I develop this product will you put it on the shelf?” She accepted his “sure, lady” response as a sort of verbal contract and was on her way.

She was expecting her fourth child and gave herself a deadline: develop the product before the new baby arrived. This is a ridiculous timeline; fortunately Kara was a novice entrepreneur and didn’t know that. She dropped the first cases of Hint Water at Whole Foods en route to the hospital, reminded them of their commitment, which they had forgotten, and drove on to the maternity ward, not realizing that she had just launched a disruptive business into the beverage industry. Big day.

Post-partum was a busy, exciting time. “Whole Foods was a first stop and then we continued to grow in stores, primarily in the San Francisco Bay area, and then we got a phone call from Google when they were first starting out. ‘Listen, we’re going to be stocking our kitchens with healthy and better-for-you-products and we’d love to give Hint a try.’ There’s…at the time, like 60 people in Google, and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll sell you some product.’” She kept selling, Google kept expanding. Then came Amazon. Subscription selling. Direct selling. Now there are new products in development. Hint has barely begun to tap the potential of its market.

Twelve years is not a long time, but in the last 12 a lot has changed. There were some opportunities then that are different from today. We can’t be the first player at this particular playing field now, so we shouldn’t try to do what Kara Goldin has already done. But there is no shortage of problems to be solved.

So What’s bugging you?