A former Diet Rite Cola Addict Built A $100M Firm

Kara Goldin

Kara Goldin created the $100m industrial in her kitchen

The BBC’s weekly The Boss series profiles different industrial leaders from spherical the sphere. This week we discuss to Kara Goldin, founding father of US flavoured water firm Impress.

Kara Goldin says she unwittingly developed an addiction that impacted on her health – she used to be ingesting up to 10 cans of food way cola daily.

On the time, lend a hand in 2001, she used to be a Silicon Valley high flyer. “I might per chance per chance been ingesting food way soda for years [by then], thinking I used to be doing one of the best ingredient,” she says.

“I used to be unbiased accurate taking attach of the drinks exchange tell ‘drink food way, and the total thing’s going to be immense’.”

Unfortunately, Kara says that she got here to the conclusion that ingesting up to some and a half of litres of caffeinated, artificially-sweetened liquid daily used to be making her feel lethargic. She moreover blamed the food way cola for her weight acquire, and acne.

And so, after leaving her top job at tech group AOL that year to transform a preserve-at-dwelling mum to her four youth, Kara made up our minds to thoroughly alternate her standard of living. She quit ingesting manufactured relaxed drinks, and as a replacement drank only water.

Hint bottles
The firm’s waters come in 26 flavours

She claims that in the voice of two-and-a-half of weeks her acne cleared up, she obtained her vitality lend a hand, and he or she lost more than 20 kilos (9kg).

The sudden improvements got here as a shock. “I in actuality began to listen to,” she says. “I’m a truly perfect particular person, however I had been fooled by the be aware ‘food way’, thinking it used to be more healthy and better for me.”

The trip at closing led Kara to compose Impress in 2005, a cozy drinks industrial that now enjoys annual gross sales of more than $100m (£81m). It specialises in bottled water flavoured entirely with pure fruit. Its merchandise build no longer embrace any added sugar or sweetener.

The exhaust of financial savings, she started the firm in her kitchen in San Francisco. Her drink wasn’t born entirely out of a wish to enhance her health even though. As an different boredom helped to raise it into existence.

After Kara had switched to ingesting hideous water, she obtained fed up of the style. To build it more provocative she began adding fruit, equivalent to strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate, and kept a jug of water with fruit items in her fridge.

She obtained the postulate to flip it accurate into a industrial after she searched in vain for a bottled model of naturally flavoured water that did no longer contain any sweeteners.

“I had this conception, cherish, ‘gosh, why is never always any person bottling this product?’,” she says. “I believed if I might per chance per chance in actuality acquire folks to trip water over again, as a replacement of ingesting all these different issues which have not unbiased accurate sugar however food way sweeteners in, then we might per chance per chance in actuality alternate health.”

John Legend
Singer John Story is an investor

Her fundamental challenge used to be mass producing her flavoured water with out adding preservatives or sweeteners. “Frankly, we had no conception, attributable to the exchange did no longer absorb any conception salvage out how to construct a product with out using preservatives.”

She researched how fruit juice is pasteurised to prolong its shelf existence, and went on to space a the same system for her waters, with the lend a hand of her husband Theo, a mature patents attorney who’s now Impress’s chief operational officer.

“We were the fundamental fruit water ticket to exhaust a pasteurisation product to compose our

drinks with out any establish of preservatives in them,” she says.

However while Kara had successfully labored out now to manufacture her drink on scale, she realised that she did no longer absorb any trip of running this form of firm. So she approached one of many area drinks giants to gaze if it will pick to acquire her open up-up industrial.

She managed to acquire a phone dialog with a senior executive at the multinational in quiz, however as she published to Forbes journal lend a hand in 2015, the controversy did no longer fling very correctly. Kara says that the man called her “sweetie”, and that this sexism gave her the pressure to continue to walk Impress herself, and build a success of it.

Her subsequent challenge used to be salvage out how to fracture accurate into a market dominated by the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, who both possess their possess water producers and a bunch of various relaxed drinks. “We had no conception of the vitality of the massive soda companies,” she says.

Kara’s first step used to be to manual her native department of upmarket supermarket chain Complete Meals to inventory Impress. She dropped off about a situations at the store unbiased accurate hours forward of she gave birth to her fourth youngster. They supplied out in a single day.

Google's headquarters
Kara in the initiating for my section delivered her waters to Google’s headquarters

Her immense fracture even though, got here attributable to of her connections in Silicon Valley. When she first started Impress, she restful had one be taught about on presumably returning to the tech sector, so she attended a job interview at Google.

“I talked about [at the interview], that I’m in actuality in this role, however, sadly, I moreover absorb one other interest.” She then went on to uncover her plans for Impress.

The Google executive interviewing her truly helpful that she present the firm along with her waters. So she began for my section handing over Impress bottles to Google’s headquarters.

After Google started filling its fridges with Impress, different Silicon Valley companies followed swimsuit. Fb is talked about to absorb taken up the Impress habit after its chief working officer Sheryl Sandberg (who’s reportedly a immense fan) joined the firm from Google.

“Peaceful this present day we are the largest beverage in Silicon Valley,” says Kara, who’s 51, and used to be brought up in Arizona.

Over the following years Impress step by step expanded previous Silicon Valley. It says it’s far now the biggest independently-owned non-alcoholic beverage firm in the US. The San Francisco-based mostly industrial has 200 workers, and its investors embrace musician John Story.

Kara Goldin with her husband Theo and daughter Emma
Kara’s husband Theo helps her walk the industrial

The drink is accessible in 26 flavours, collectively with watermelon, peach and blackberry, and there are vivid and caffeinated versions, and a youth’ fluctuate. The firm has moreover expanded far flung from drinks to originate a selection of pure sunscreens, and announced plans for a line of deodorants. Kara says she now hopes to construct bigger previous the US into different worldwide locations, collectively with the UK.

Alex Beckett, partner director of meals and drink at study group Mintel, says that flavoured water has transform licensed spherical the sphere attributable to “it combines the pure associations and health halo of water, with the provocative flavours found in sugary drinks”. He adds: “Kara Goldin had the foresight and pressure to recognise the prolonged-duration of time possible for flavoured, purposeful water.”

Collectively with running Impress, Kara says she is targeted on elevating consciousness about health points, equivalent to rising ranges of weight problems and form 2 diabetes. “I’m attempting to spread the be aware that as a society we’re in ache,” she says. “I in actuality judge that we are able to lend a hand customers acquire their health lend a hand in all components of the sphere.”