- Daina Trout is the CEO and cofounder of Health-Ade Kombucha, a beverage brand that she launched in 2012 with her husband and best friend. Over the past year, it’s brought in $100 million in revenues.
- Health-Ade Kombucha has 300 employees, and has been the fastest-growing kombucha brand in the US over the past three years, according to data company SPINS. More than 35,000 stores sell its products, and it’s stocked in both Whole Foods and Costco.
- Trout shared a step-by-step breakdown of her journey so far with Business Insider, complete with all the major milestones she hit along the way.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In 2012, Daina and her husband Justin Trout were living on $7 a day. That same year, along with Daina’s best friend Vanessa Dew, they launched a drinks businesss, Health-Ade Kombucha, and sold their kombucha — a fermented, sweetened tea drink — at farmer’s markets. Now, Health-Ade has 300 employees and produces 60,000 jars a week, and over 35,000 stores sell their products, include branches of Whole Foods and Costco. Over the past year, the company has brought in $100 million in revenue.
Since the launch of Health-Ade, the kombucha industry has boomed. In 2019, the sector reached a global market value of $1.35 billion, and it is expected to pass $8 billion by the end of 2026, according to the market research firm Industry Research. Health-Ade has been at the forefront of that growth: In the past three years, it has contributed 55% of the growth of the kombucha drinks category, more than the next nine brands combined, according to independent data company SPINS, provided to Business Insider by Health-Ade.
In an interview with Business Insider, Daina Trout said her number one tip for entrepreneurs was never to look too far ahead. “You take it one step at a time … how will you get to the next level up is more important right now, and ultimately will be key for continuously improving, than knowing how you will get to the top of the staircase,” she said.
Daina also shared a four-part, step-by-step breakdown of how she and her cofounders grew their business. Here it is, in her own words.
Stage 1: Pre-investment
- We started with no money for ourselves, or the business, and were living on $7 a day.
- We worked upwards of 12 hours per day, which involved a lot of physical labor at our brewery, selling at the farmers’ market, and self-distribution.
- We were in startup mode, using just our intelligence to improve — we even flipped a 28-foot truck we shouldn’t have been driving, which was full of kombucha.
Stage 2: Post-investment
- We learned to fundraise and work with a board. We’ve raised over $50 million over the last eight years.
- We learned how to run a company with more than 30 employees and learned from our mistakes (we hired and fired friends, or hired the wrong people altogether.)
- First time we learned to pay ourselves! Beautiful!
- Milestone: Got Health-Ade into to 5,000 stores.
Stage 3: Getting to $50 million in revenues
- I learned how to evolve past being a cofounder into being CEO working alongside my husband and best friend.
- With manufacturing we continued to scale. (This is a challenge — you’re always behind, it’s expensive and hard to keep up).
- With nonstop growth comes nonstop challenges. I learned to set boundaries — I had my first child while being CEO.
- We reached more than 50 employees and opened a 50,000 square feet brewery in California
- In 2018, Health-Ade became one of the fastest-growing refrigerated functional beverage brands in the country.
- Milestone: Got Health-Ade into 15,000 stores
4th chapter “getting to $100 million in revenues”
- Evolving struggles with how we make our kombucha to match scale and maintain compliance.
- We joined a community of chief executives from around the world, the Young Presidents’ Organization — forming a community of real partners.
- We hired more than 150 people and formed an A+ executive/leadership team — my dream team!
- Health-Ade became the number one kombucha brand in absolute dollar growth, and contributed 80% of the category’s growth in 2019.
- We needed to drive growth in the brand by bringing even more consumers in and adding excitement to a saturated space — enter Health-Ade Booch Pop (new innovations to come!)
- Milestone: Got Health-Ade into 35,000 stores and counting!