Kristin and Carl Schroeder have created an energy drink targeted at the mature outdoor recreationalist. Courtesy Moonlight Beverage

Energy drink entrepreneur sees family as key to success

BOULDER — Packed with sugar and caffeine, flavored like bubble gum or cotton candy, and sporting names like Monster and Rockstar, it’s easy to see why the energy beverage market is dominated by brands marketing to the teen and young adult demographic.

Moonlight Beverage Co., a Boulder-based startup helmed by Kristin Schroeder and husband Carl Schroeder, aims to put a more mature spin on the beverage category with its Wingman line of energy drinks.

If Red Bull markets itself as the drink that gives you wings and a jolt before skydiving into a volcano, Wingman gives you a gentle nudge to help you finish the last mile of a hike up Mount Sanitas on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The Schroeders say the key differentiating factor for Wingman is the presence of amino acids that help the body boost its natural levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that stimulates the vascular system and helps improve circulation.

“The energy drink market is really congested. There’s a lot of competition and some really big players,” Kristin Schroeder said. “We did our homework to make sure there was a wide open lane for us to play in.”

The company is a family affair for the Schroeders. Kristin Schroeder, whose background is in chemical engineering, serves as Moonlight’s CEO, and Carl Schroeder, whose family has been in the beverage packaging business for generations, is the president and heads up the sales side of the operation. Even the look of the Wingman can and packaging was handled in-house — by the couple’s graphic designer daughter.

“Carl and I realized that working together was going to get the company where it needed to go faster,” Kristin Schroeder said. “We have very different personalities but the one thing we have in common is we’re both extroverts. We’re perfectly comfortable telling the other one that we’d do something differently.”

She added, “I got my start as an engineer, so I have a lot of experience working in the male-dominated business world. I’m comfortable operating in this space.”

The Schroeders are empty nesters who moved to Boulder from Minnesota several years ago in an effort to set up shop in the epicenter of the natural food and beverage world.

Boulder is “a place where we enjoy being and also a place that would help nurture the business,” Kristen said. “Boulder is such a dynamic area and so strong in the natural food scene. Everybody’s always moving here. They’re hiking, they’re biking, they’re on the river and the trails. Everybody is really active.”

People in Boulder aren’t just active when it comes to recreation, Carl Schroeder said. The natural food business in the area is a hive of activity.

“Here you can meet people who are investors or run incubators,” he said, “and there are groups like Naturally Boulder you can belong to. As a startup business, it’s so helpful to have those resources available.”

It didn’t take long for Moonlight’s presence in Boulder to pay off; local grocer Alfalfa’s Market Inc. was the first retailer to carry Wingman products.

The company has since inked a distribution deal with Colorado-based New Age Inc., and Wingman is now carried in more than 100 stores.

Moonlight plans to focus its 2021 efforts on building out its distribution network in Colorado and hopes soon to expand sales into the New York City area.

“We’re trying to focus on specific markets and going deep rather than getting spread out and diluted,” Carl Schroeder said.

The company aims to raise $3 million in investment funds next year for working capital and to expand the sales team.

“Building a brand isn’t cheap,” Kristin Schroeder said.

BOULDER — Packed with sugar and caffeine, flavored like bubble gum or cotton candy, and sporting names like Monster and Rockstar, it’s easy to see why the energy beverage market is dominated by brands marketing to the teen and young adult demographic.

Moonlight Beverage Co., a Boulder-based startup helmed by Kristin Schroeder and husband Carl Schroeder, aims to put a more mature spin on the beverage category with its Wingman line of energy drinks.

If Red Bull markets itself as the drink that gives you wings and a jolt before skydiving into a volcano, Wingman gives you a gentle nudge to help you finish the last mile of a hike up Mount Sanitas on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The Schroeders say the key differentiating factor for Wingman is the presence of amino acids that help the body boost its natural levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that stimulates the vascular system and helps improve circulation.

“The energy drink market is really congested. There’s a lot of competition and some really big players,” Kristin Schroeder said. “We did our homework to make sure there was a wide open lane for us to play in.”

The company is a family affair for the Schroeders. Kristin Schroeder, whose background is in chemical engineering, serves as Moonlight’s CEO, and Carl Schroeder, whose family has been in the beverage packaging business for generations, is the president and heads up the sales side of the…