Startup Spotlight: DRINKMaple

February 14, 2016

For this week’s startup spotlight, we hang out with Kate Weiler, one of the founders of DRINKMaple. She tells us about all of the amazing local resources she was able to get to help her with her product, and how sometimes, you just have to ignore those voices that tell you “it’s never going to work”.

GH: What is DRINKMaple?
Kate: DRINKMaple is a natural hydration, consisting of one ingredient that comes straight from Vermont maple trees. With natural electrolytes, antioxidants and half of the sugar of coconut water, DRINKmaple is a local, natural hydration.

GH: How did it get started?
Kate: My (now) business partner and I were doing an Ironman up in Canada and stumbled on a very small manufacturers maple water. As a sports nutritionist and health and wellness enthusiast, I couldn’t believe that what was coming straight from the tree was a natural, refreshing hydration. We were dumbfounded that coconuts were being shipped across the world for the coconut water craze for the love for a single ingredient natural hydration, but we weren’t utilizing a resource that was right in our backyard.
GH: What was an obstacle you had to overcome?
Kate: It is very hard logistically to produce maple water water in a safe and pure manner. We had a lot of bottlers and maple sugar makers tell us that coming to market with a maple water product couldn’t be done.
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
Kate: We learned that follow up is a major necessity in the retail business. Just because a retailer orders your product, doesn’t mean that they will continue to keep it in stock even if it moves very well. Following up with buyers is important, so that you stay top of mind and that the reorder of the product doesn’t fall off of their radar.

GH: What has the Boston/New England ecosystem provided you?
Kate: The food and beverage community in New England has been overwhelmingly supportive. Having a group of entrepreneurs in the area who we can network with and learn from has been very helpful.

We joined Northeastern’s IDEA accelerator where we received some grant money and coaching around business plans and business pitching. The Massachusetts Specialty Food Association has been extremely helpful in getting funds to support exporting.

Jeremy Halpern at Nutter, McClennan and Fish and Edible Ventures has been instrumental in fostering relationships with people in the industry.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
Kate: Best advice – startup companies are like a roller coaster. The highs can be really high, but the lows can be REALLY low. No matter what, keep your head up and keep plugging along.  Worst advice – There is no way that this is going to work, don’t waste your time.
GH: What’s the most exciting thing that happened to DRINKMaple in 2015?
Kate: In less than 18 months from our launch, we gained distribution in over 2,000 locations.
GH: What does the future hold for you and DRINKMaple?
Kate: We are excited to be announcing new line extensions this year and announcing additional retail outlets!

 

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