How Success Happened for Daina Trout, CEO of Health-Ade Kombucha

Daina Trout has built Health-Ade Kombucha into a leader in the $2B Kombucha Industry.

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February 11, 2021 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Daina Trout is the CEO and co-founder of Health-Ade Kombucha. If you’re not familiar with the bubbly brew, kombucha is a fermented tea packed with healthy acids and probiotics most notably known for their benefit on gut-health. It’s also a great alternative to sugary drinks and can help you stay hydrated. Kombucha, while traditionally thought of as being more for the yogis of the world, has fast become a booming market, reaching nearly $2B (source), with Health-Ade at the forefront. Health-Ade flavors their delicious kombucha with organic cold-pressed juice and draws fans like Lizzo, Justin Beiber, Jaden Smith, Chrissy Teigen, Carmelo Anthony, and more. 

Listen to Daina on How Success Happens Podcast

Daina launched Health-Ade in 2012 alongside her husband, Justin Trout, and best friend, Vanessa Dew. The trio formed an entrepreneurial club, itching to explore paths of their own outside of their corporate careers. Daina first learned how to brew kombucha during her tenure at Tufts University, where she earned Master’s degrees both in Nutrition and Public Health after receiving her BS from Georgetown University. The co-founders started brewing kombucha out of Daina and Justin’s apartment and selling it at the local Brentwood Farmers Market.  

Related: Learn From Successful Entrepreneurs on The How Success Happens Podcast

Over the past eight years, Daina has built Health-Ade from a small business to a multi-million-dollar success sold at over 35,000 grocery stores, including major retailers like Target, Whole Foods Market and Costco. In 2020 the business launched two new product lines: Health-Ade Booch Pop, a better-for-you soda, with healthy acids, prebiotics, and minerals targeted to aid gut health and Health-Ade PLUS, a line of seven functional flavors that combines Health-Ade’s original kombucha with adaptogens and functional ingredients that meet seven different moods and need states. As one of the few female CEOs in beverage,  Daina’s achievements were recognized in this year’s Entrepreneur’s 100 Powerful Women list. 

Below are three lessons I learned from Daina’s success:   

She never gave up: As with any fast-growth business, there are going to be hurdles. As CEO, Daina faced a range of roadblocks in building Health-Ade from maxed-out credit cards, to struggling to secure capital, keeping up with manufacturing, and more, but it’s clear that she possessed unwavering persistence in the face of challenges. “If you have that mentality of you cannot quit, you cannot fail, I really believe that’s the secret to success in those beginning years. You’re the one that doesn’t quit,” shares Daina.  As an entrepreneur, it really comes down to this persistence and the ability to pick yourself up off the mat to take on the next challenge headed your way. 

She built a great culture: One of the most important attributes to look for in candidates is how they’ll integrate into your organization. “People need to feel good about where they work. They need autonomy to grow and space to make mistakes.” shares Daina. “Early on we had things like culture interviews where we didn’t just interview a candidate based on their skills and experience but placed equal importance on their ability to fit into our culture.”  

She had a team she could trust: If you’re looking to start a business with someone, you need to find someone that you can share the truth with absolutely. Daina did just that in starting Health-Ade with her husband and best friend. “You want to start a business with someone you can trust, someone you can communicate with and have tough conversations with, and typically those are your closest friends and the ones you love,” shares Daina.

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