Gatorade, marketed as a sports drink for athletes to help them stay hydrated, isn’t exactly the healthiest option when you factor in the amount of sugar and calories you’re getting.
To help give athletes electrolytes without all the sugar, Chicago startup Kra has made an organic sports drink that it’s hoping will take off with professional and amateur athletes alike.
Launched last year, Kra (pronounced cray) is made with just a handful of ingredients—organic cane sugar, apple or lemon juice, fruits and vegetables, and sea salt—and has no artificial dyes, Kra founder Sarah Koleno said.
An amateur athlete herself, Koleno wanted a Gatorade alternative but couldn’t find anything she liked.
“We saw so much Gatorade on the sidelines, and we were looking for something a little bit healthier,” she said. “We went looking and didn’t find anything that was organic, had less sugar, and no artificial dyes, that we liked.”
Since launching in the summer of 2016 with her co-founder Dan Trainor, Kra is now in more than 200 stores throughout the Midwest and Mid Atlantic, like Mariano’s, Butera and other independent grocers. Koleno, a former lawyer of 20 years, has grown the brand by connecting with local retailers and getting the product in front of youth sports teams and weekend warriors. But Kra has also gotten some traction with professional athletes. It has worked with Chicago Bear Cam Meredith and Indiana Pacer Glenn Robinson III to promote the product.
Kra also has a social mission with its “Kra for Play program,” which provides support to disadvantaged youth sports programs across the country.
“We created this product because we believe to our core that people should be drinking something without dyes and chemicals,” Koleno said. “Just simple, clean, real ingredients.”