How I Overcame Losing One of My Biggest Customers

by Kara Goldin, Guest Writer,

When Starbucks pulled my product, I had to scramble to find a replacement.

As an outsider in the beverage industry trying to find a way to reach more consumers, landing my product in Starbucks stores was a huge win. It also seemed like a natural fit, as Starbucks at the time was looking for healthier bottled drink options.

The partnership was initially planned to start with a limited launch of our blackberry flavor in 500 stores, which would have been significant for us at the time. But, shortly before launch, Starbucks decided to go even bigger, placing our product in 11,000 stores across the country.

I was ecstatic, but we had a major operational hurdle to overcome: Before selling to Starbucks, we had to actually produce the product and get it ready in time for each major shipment. That also meant we had to pay for each large order up front.

It was stressful, but we were eager for the opportunity to share hint water with a wider audience — so the team and I rolled up our sleeves and made it happen.

The difference one call can make

Things were going great as new consumers began to discover and enjoy our product for the first time. We had set up weekly sales goals that we consistently surpassed. This is how it went for about a year, and I felt like we had settled into a great rhythm.

Then, as we were preparing our next huge order for shipment, I got the shock of a lifetime. Starbucks called and said that it had shifted its business strategy and would begin filling its cases with more food and fewer beverages. Our product would be removed from stores within a week.

I’m not one to cry very often, but this seemed like the right occasion to make an exception. We had a warehouse full of product we had paid for, with no idea what we were going to do with it. To say that it was a scary moment is an understatement. While logically I knew this was something that was completely out of our control, it felt like a failure. Starbucks was a huge platform for us that was performing very well, so to lose that partnership was devastating.

Once I had the chance to collect myself, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that all was not lost and I still had a great product that consumers loved. I firmly believe that when one door closes another door opens, so while the task of finding a home for the Starbucks shipment that amounted to six months worth of product seemed daunting, I knew we could do it. I was determined not to give up, and immediately began looking for alternatives to our partnership with Starbucks.

Just a couple weeks later, I got another call — this time, from Amazon. The ecommerce site wanted to sell hint water and requested a large product order within just a few weeks. As fate would have it we happened to have a lot of blackberry hint on-hand and ready to ship. When I asked the buyer how he knew about us, he told me he had seen hint at Starbucks. This brought everything full circle and made it clear that everything has its purpose, and while the relationship with Starbucks may have been short-lived it had a very big impact.

Finding light in adversity

Selling on Amazon worked out great, and continues to be big piece of our business. Our customers loved the online access to our product, and a few years later it led us to launch our own direct-to-consumer business, which has been a huge revenue driver. It has also helped us foster even closer relationships with our customers, which informs every decision we make, since at the end of the day we are here to make our customers lives better.

Starbucks was great for sales, but it was even better for broadening our awareness. While the short-term “failure” of losing that deal was hard to swallow, ultimately it opened up so many doors and pushed us to try a new way of doing things.

This experience reinforced my belief that everything in life is connected and happens for a reason. When something bad happens, you have to hope to find the light in it and keep moving forward until you discover why things happened the way they did. Every fall is an opportunity to get up and try something new and better.

I learned that when things get challenging as an entrepreneur, don’t give up on your dream — instead, find a way to see the opportunity in the chaos and challenge of a difficult situation.

20180219193508-DSC-13152Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of hint, a healthy lifestyle brand that produces delicious, unsweetened flavored water, as well as a fruit-infused sunscreen spray that is oxybenzone and paraben-free. She recently launched the podcast Unstoppable, where she interviews inspiring entrepreneurs. She is a guest writer for Entrepreneur.


Spotlight on Finance: Start a successful woman-owned business


By April Ulrich, Key4Women Chair, KeyBank

#AprilUlrich #Key4Women #KeyBank #SpotlightOnFinance #SpotlightNews


In recognition of Small Business Month and in celebration of the 17th Annual Key4Women Forum, I wanted to share some eye-opening statistics about women in business.

Today, 56 percent of the workforce is comprised of women—who hold 50 percent of management roles.

Women are opening 1,072 net new businesses every day, and women-owned businesses employ 9 million people and generate $1.6 trillion in revenue. In fact, if you combined all women-owned businesses in the U.S. and made them their own country, that country would have the fifth largest GDP…in the world!

Clearly, women in business have come far. However, women are still prone to making the same mistakes when starting and running a business that business owners have been making for centuries. And the number one mistake I see among women-owned startups is overestimating initial sales.
The problem with overestimating initial sales is it often leads to a shortfall in working and permanent capital.

For example, let’s consider a retail start-up. In order to fulfill sales, the retailer needs to have a stock of supplies. In most cases, this stock needs to be paid for prior to sale to a customer.

What happens when retail start-ups overestimate initial sales is they overstock, and capital needed to pay employees, rent, utilities and other expenses, including advertising to grow the business, is tied up in product that isn’t selling. It’s no wonder, then, that nearly 50 percent of businesses attribute their failure to a shortage of working capital.

Here are four tips to help you avoid this financial mistake.

  1. Understand your reason. Why are you starting your business? To fill a void in the market, change your lifestyle, make a difference? Six in 10 Key Private Bank advisors say that when business owners first become clients, few know whether the goal of their business is to support their lifestyle or to reinvest back into the company for long-term growth. Knowing the type of business you’re operating is not only the first step to determining how you define success, but it is also critical to understanding how business decisions can impact your wealth in retirement.
  2. Know your pitch. What is your value proposition? Being able to articulate why your product and service will matter to customers, and sharing it with as many people as possible before you open for business, will give you a sense of how well it resonates with people and if they are willing to spend money for it.
  3. Create a business plan. Business plans are important because they allow for educated projections of future performance. Also, understanding the market and your competitors is a great way to forecast your first three years of sales and expenses. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and your local office of SCORE can provide guidance with research founded industry statistics to help with your business plan, especially with revenue projections.
  4. Build an advisory board. This one comes complements of Leah Busque, TaskRabbit founder and keynote speaker at the 2018 Key4Women Forum. Leah says tapping into your network to form a reliable group of advisors who can offer objective analysis and bring new skill sets where yours may be weak (technology, legal and financial are common areas) is critical. Start with who you know and trust as well as those with experience in your industry—make sure you have them sign confidentiality agreements. Organizations such as Chamber Women’s Business Council, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and Women’s Presidents’ Organization (WPO) can provide guidance and support.

Another thing to consider when starting your business is that good business doesn’t always mean a strong bottom line. Sometimes the most successful businesses go beyond the balance sheet and make having a broader impact on the community it serves a top priority.

In today’s world, consumers want to know that businesses as a whole are taking a stand. In fact, according to a global sustainability report by Nielsen, customers are 43 percent more likely to purchase a product from a company they know is committed to social value.

Being a socially responsible business will also add to your community’s vitality, improve customer loyalty and help drive employee recruitment and retention. According to Double the Donation, 79 percent of millennials said they consider corporate responsibility when deciding where to work, and 74 percent say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work.

At the end of the day, there are many factors that contribute to a business’s success or failure. Due diligence and thoughtful consideration can go a long way toward establishing a strong foundation for growth.

Also, remember this: while much is made of the number of startups that fail, many succeed. For women, who have doubled the number of businesses they have founded over the past three years, this is good news. And it’s good news for the economy, because according to First Round Capital, women business founders outperform men by 63 percent in terms of creating value for investors.

About the author: April Ulrich is Key4Women chair and vice president, Business Banking, for KeyBank in the Capital Region. She may be reached at 518-859-6645 or

Cloud Computing | Packaging Simplified | World is Your Market


Break the rules and make a little trouble this week …

“I hope that you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there.  And I also hope you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” — Nora Ephron’s 1996 commencement address at Wellesley College

First things first!  Did you miss our WEGGinar™ earlier in the month with 3 top international trade finance experts?  Grab your cup of java or tea and listen to it here.  You don’t EVER want to be caught off guard with an overseas customer when he or she states:  “I need payment terms.”  This WEGGinar™ covers it all and then some.  By the way, I love the Q&A part of the session — very informative — where all the best kept secrets are unveiled :-).

Tip of the month.  Are you running an e-commerce business and need help with cutting-edge packaging?  Check out Lumi where packaging is simplified yet made to look luxurious.


What is cloud computing?  As an SME, how can you benefit from it?  Find out key growth lessons from more than 50 startup owners using cloud computing on July 11 at 11:00 a.m. Central Time on on “Intro to Cloud Computing and How It Can Benefit You,” presented by Jayger McGough Tomasino and Carly Kizorek, Technical Evangelists at IBM.  They will give you the scoop on cloud computing, convey how SMEs use it to grow, and even show a demo of IBM Watson services.

The WEGGinar™ is free of charge, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors: UPS, IBM, and BOA – go here to register:

WEGG’s Mission and Vision
WEGG’s mission is to educate women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.  Our vision is a world where every woman business owner has the opportunity and ability to take their business global wherever they may be located.

For more information on WEGG, Please contact

Laurel Delaney
Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global

Two Steps To Help You Become A More Confident Risk-Taker

By Randy H. Nelson 

When I am speaking to entrepreneurs or leadership teams, I always ask them the following question:

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word entrepreneur?” 95% of the time I get the same exact answer: Risk-taker.

When I go on to ask the audience how many of them are risk-takers, the percentages drop quickly—even amongst the entrepreneurs.

Then I ask another question: “Is a military jet pilot a risk-taker or not?”

How would you respond?

The audiences I speak to typically split on this answer. Some say yes and some say no. But then, if I add the word “controlled” to the equation, everyone invariably comes to the same conclusion. Everyone shifts to a yes.

Everyone agrees: a military jet pilot is indeed a controlled risk-taker. So how can entrepreneurial leaders use this information to become more comfortable and confident taking risks? And how can they learn to take smarter risks?

To continue reading, please visit



Five Courageous Business Moves To Help Your Company Survive

By Al Zdenek

Do you have the guts and the courage to have your business succeed? The government doubts it.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail within their first year of operation. 95% fail within the first five years. That is 19 out of every 20 small businesses in the country. If that sounds outrageous, that’s because it is!

The ugly truth is, many businesses on the failure side of these statistics could avoid this fate if the entrepreneurs who started them had the courage to make the strategic business moves necessary to ensure a higher probability of survival.

There are many reasons why businesses fail, to be sure. But in my experience working with business owners, I’ve found there are five top actions any entrepreneur can take to improve their fortunes when the outlook is dim. The common ingredient to all five? Courage.

  1. Know when to…

Visit to read the full article.


Here’s Why British Firms Say Their Boards Lack Women. Prepare to Cringe.

by Amie Tsang, The New York Times

LONDON — “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn.”

“All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”

Those were just a few of the worst explanations given to a British review investigating the lack of women on corporate boards in the country, the latest effort by British government officials to shame companies into addressing workplace gender disparities.

Read more here.

Follow Amie Tsang on Twitter: @amietsang.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Here’s Why British Firms Say Their Boards Lack Women. Prepare to Cringe.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Blockchain Technology – The Future of Business. What Should Your Lawyer Know?

According to Joshi,[1] “Blockchain is a technology that focuses on increasing transparency and introducing decentralization that will allow the technology to enable everyone on the network to view information stored on ledgers.”

Blockchain’s cryptography feature is often misunderstood. This means that storing information on a Blockchain network is secure and not anonymous. The Ledger is un-editable and therefore the records stored in a Blockchain unalterable. From a legal perspective to various business functions, this is both vital and positive.

According to Joshi[2] and McKenna[3], Blockchain can address common business issues more efficiently in the following ways:

  1. By eliminating failure to comply with contractual obligations. As Entrepreneurs we have often faced the eventuality where parties default in terms of payment or some other obligation, this happens even when we have the best Agreement in place. Besides creating a crucial and unalterable record, the technology records activity in real time and thereby enables the other party to make sound commercial decisions quicker than we were able to do prior.
  2. By tracking stock. It is crucial in manufacturing that products reach the Distributors and End Retailers on time. However, stock is often lost or misplaced for extended periods of time, which results in losses for Manufacturers. Here, again the application of Blockchain technology could address the issue of tracking he production of stock as well as its dispatch, the logistics and end destination.
  3. By increasing transparency-in web- based businesses the application of Blockchain technology increases transparency, keeps track of the incoming and outgoing products and makes management thereof more efficient.

Moreover according to McKenna,[4] some Industries have already seen the impact of Blockchain, such as:

“Entertainment — Founded by a singer-songwriter, Ujo Music tracks musician royalties as well as allowing them to create evidence of ownership of their work.

Insurance — AIG is piloting a smart contract system to oversee the creation of complex policies requiring international cooperation.

Recruitment — Blockchain-based CVs have now been developed which will streamline the selection process by verifying candidates’ qualifications and relevant experience.”

For the Legal Profession this is an interesting time where Practitioners will have to understand the technology to the required degree in order to advise Clients on the content and processes they intend to run on a Blockchain Network. Many aspects that have traditionally been time-consuming to investigate and accurately identify in order to remedy, will be addressed by the technology.

It is therefore vital that the manner in which this is implemented is done in compliance with the relevant regulations and latest best practices.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw, SchoemanLaw Inc, Cape Town, South Africa

Email :



Twitter: @NicoleneSL_Att and SchoemanLaw_Att


[1] : accessed 30 April 2018

[2] : accessed 30 April 2018

[3] : accessed 30 April 2018

[4] : accessed 30 April 2018