DrinkMaple co-founders Kate Weiler and Jeff Rose have had a lot to celebrate following the company’s third anniversary.
Last month, the Vermont-based maple water brand announced it had received $250,000 in funding from Vermont venture capital firm FreshTracks Capital as part of a $4.35 million Series A round that was led by venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue. With the investments, Cleveland Avenue partner Keith Kravcik joined Drink Maple’s board of directors.
Speaking to BevNET, Weiler praised FreshTracks’ operational experience in CPG companies.Managing director T.J. Whalen previously served as vice president of marketing and sales for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and later took the role of chief strategy officer for Keurig Green Mountain before joining FreshTracks.
“This is a fast growing category and being able to support our launches and retailers, and continuing to innovate and come out with products that are better for you and plant-based, is really important to us,” Weiler said. “So making sure that we’re making this healthful hydration accessible and being able to support that in the cutthroat beverage industry is really important to the brand.”
The funding will help the company expand upon on its existing maple water and watermelon juice products, with line extensions expected later this year, and potential new plant-based beverage products expected next year.
“It’s been a really exciting spring,” Weiler said. “It just shows that there’s a lot of potential to be had for the brand, and we have a lot of opportunities to tackle.”
Along with the new funding, DrinkMaple picked up new retail placement in several conventional and natural grocery chains.. In the past year the company has added Hannaford, New Seasons, Earthfare, Sprouts, Market Basket, Safeway, Fairway Market, Hyvee, Spartan Nash, and Whole Foods’ Midwest and Florida regions (the brand now has a presence in six Whole Foods regions, including the U.K.). The brand will also be expanding nationally in CVS later this summer, building off of a pilot launch in select stores last fall.
The distribution growth included an expanded retail presence for the company’s watermelon juice line, DRINKmelon. Since its March, 2016 launch, DRINKmelon retailers including H-E-B, Stop & Shop, Giant, Sprouts, and select regions of Whole Foods have picked up the product. While not sold every where DRINKmaple is, the watermelon line is “quickly, quickly catching up,” Weiler said.
“There’s been a lot of interest in the product and with the category reviews that happened last year we’re seeing a lot more retail launches this year,” she added.