2022 Innovator Award Winner

Experienced Alumnae | Honors

Kate Weiler, MS’13

Co-Founder, Drink Simple

For All-Natural Hydration, Kate Weiler Looks to the Trees

by Molly Callahan   |   November 2, 2022

Kate Weiler has harnessed the natural power of trees to create a nutritious and delicious maple water made of more than 40 plant-powered nutrients. Although this sounds complex, Weiler’s beverage is called Drink Simpleand it’s good for the planet and for people, empowering healthy minds, bodies, and souls.

Picture this: You’ve just completed an Ironman triathlon—a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, then a 112-mile bicycle ride, then a marathon foot race. You need to hydrate and replenish important nutrients and electrolytes your body lost during the grueling athletic contest. What do you reach for? Sugary sports drinks? Bland bottled water?

When Kate Weiler found herself in this exact situation, she turned toward an unexpected source: maple trees.

The trees’ sap, typically boiled down to make maple syrup, can be pasteurized instead to make a nutrient-rich, electrolyte-filled drink that’s perfect for pre- and post-workout. Enter maple water.

“The first time I tried it, I felt so much better; almost uplifted,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how hydrating it was.”

Weiler was introduced to maple water at the Ironman Mont-Tremblant triathlon a decade ago. Not long after, she and her husband, Jeff, founded Drink Simple, a maple water company that taps hydration straight from the source.

Weiler was recognized with a 2022 Innovator Award, a competition hosted by Northeastern’s Women Who Empower, that drew more than 100 entries this year

“Kate is one of the original pioneering women in Northeastern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, persevering and excelling at a time when we didn’t talk about the need for diversity in the innovation economy,” says Betsy Ludwig, executive director of women’s empowerment at Northeastern, and a member of the Women Who Empower team.

“Even with the increased societal narrative about helping women, women still only receive 2.4 percent of venture capital funding in the U.S. The Women Who Empower Innovator Awards are positioned to help bridge this gap,” she says. “Many women don’t qualify for angel investments or venture capital funding because they don’t have access to a friends-and-family round. Entrepreneurship is still a very privileged place that requires early access to people with checkbooks. We offer grants to validate a woman’s venture so she might obtain further funding.”

“My goal is to make Drink Simple a household name.”

—Kate Weiler, Co-Founder, Drink Simple

“My goal is to make Drink Simple a household name.”

—Kate Weiler, Co-Founder, Drink Simple

“We’re so honored to win this award,” Weiler says, adding that the funding associated with the award will help Drink Simple expand to include bulk-ingredient offerings in addition to the ready-to-drink boxed water the company already sells.

Weiler, who earned a master’s degree in nutrition from Northeastern University in 2013, says that the beverage industry “isn’t for the faint of heart” (neither, for that matter, are Ironman triathlons), but is dedicated to the sustainable mission of Drink Simple.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, maple water is loaded with electrolytes—essential minerals that give your body the charge it needs to power through a tough workout, or just a long day. The drink can also help reduce muscle inflammation thanks to the presence of antioxidants such as manganese. It can also stabilize blood sugar due to naturally occuring abscisic acid.

“Maple water is still unknown to a lot of people, but when they discover it, we get emails that say things like, ‘This product changed my life,’” Weiler says. “Maple water provides a natural energy that feels uplifting, but not in the same jittery way that you might get from caffeine. My goal is to make Drink Simple a household name.”

Weiler has completed 12 full-distance Ironman races, and finds parallels between the mental effort required of a triathlete to get over the finish line and that required of an entrepreneur to realize their vision.

“In Ironman and in entrepreneurship, there are going to be dark times,” she says. “You have to find a way to get yourself out of them, and know that you can.”

For example, Weiler says she might feel miserable at mile 75 of the bike ride, but “you just keep going because you might feel great again by mile 112.” Or, Weiler has encountered unexpected obstacles when it came to getting Drink Simple on grocery store shelves, describing the beverage world as something of an old boys’ club.

“I use that mental fortitude a lot in entrepreneurship,” she says. “It can sometimes be difficult to break through, but you just have to keep going.”