With drinkMAPLE, Kate Weiler, MS’13, and her business partner have introduced America to the naturally hydrating benefits of maple water.
Kate Weiler and her business partner realize they didn’t give themselves much time to launch their product, but they’re certainly making up for lost time.
Weiler, who graduated from Northeastern with a master’s degree in Applied Nutrition, is cofounder of drinkMAPLE, a “naturally refreshing” pure water tapped each spring from maple trees in northern Vermont.
“When most people think of what comes out of maple trees, they know that the liquid is usually boiled off to make syrup and candy,” Weiler said. “But this is a tremendously refreshing water that’s packed with nutrients, and it’s a resource that’s right here in our trees.”
Weiler, an ironman triathlete who had previously run a private sports nutrition practice, stumbled upon pure maple water while competing in an ironman event in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada in fall 2013.
“It was delicious, refreshing, hydrating, and nutritious,” Weiler said. “Jeff [Rose] and I spent the next several months really thinking about the possibility of developing the product. There wasn’t anything like it in the United States, and we both thought it could be something big.”
But any chances of a patient, measured approach in bringing the product to market were dashed when they heard about two U.S.-based competitor preparing to launch their own maple water products.
“We had been giving it some thought for a good few months but in December 2013 we started Googling and cold-calling,” Weiler said. “Here we were, two entrepreneurs with absolutely no beverage experience looking to launch this product. But we said, ‘We’re doing it,’ and we just knew it was the right decision. The two of us don’t overthink things.”
When warmer temperatures arrived in late winter/early spring 2014, Weiler and Rose tapped trees in Vermont’s Franklin County.
“There’s five or six weeks when the thaw starts. It’s a very short season,” Weiler said.
But they were ready, and Weiler and Ross had drinkMAPLE on the shelves at 37 Whole Foods Markets in August 2014. They secured contracts with Stop & Shop and Giant Foods in October 2015, bringing their product to 650 more stores, and in May the Kroger grocery chain, the largest in the county, will begin carrying drinkMAPLE.
A year ago, Weiler and Rose shifted their manufacturing operations from suburban Boston to St. Albans, Vermont, where there’s no shortage of maple trees. The company now has six full-time employees.
“It’s exciting to see the growth,” said Weiler, who also recently published a book titled “Real Fit Kitchen: Fuel Your Body, Improve Energy, and Increase Strength with Every Meal,” with Red Sox nutritionist Tara Mardigan. “And it’s absolutely surreal to walk into a store and see drinkMAPLE on the shelves. I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short time.”
Click here to read more Alumni stories.
published April 2016