Baton Rouge sports drink startup expands footprint, aims to be ‘next Gatorade’

Hydra-Guard sports drink. Submitted photo.

Hydra-Guard Recharge, an all-natural sports drink created by a Baton Rouge entrepreneur, has doubled its footprint since 2017, expanding to 500 retail locations across the southeast region, from east Texas to the Florida state line.

The next step, says founder Joseph Tucker, is national distribution. The company is closing in on a potential deal with a major distributor, but cannot yet disclose details.

Tucker, who is behind the startup that also produced the Hydra-Guard mouthguard, partnered with the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator in 2015 to create a higher-quality, healthier version of commonly consumed sports drinks, such as Gatorade.

Using patented technology created by LSU researchers, Tucker says, Hydra-Guard Recharge has four times the amount of electrolytes as leading sports drinks, but without all the added sugar.

Since the sports drink hit the market in 2016, Hydra-Guard has grown from its 55-gallon-kettle operation in the food incubator to now producing hundreds of gallons a week at a manufacturing facility in Lafayette. The company’s headquarters still remains in Baton Rouge at LSU’s Innovation Park.

The turning point for the startup came in early 2018 when Tucker rebranded the sports drink label which had the bonus effect of expanding the product’s shelf life. Investing in heat-shrink labels that cover the entire sports drink bottle, the effectiveness of the product improved from six to 18 months because it also kept outside light from breaking down the formula.

The move opened the door to expanded distribution. Hydra-Guard has also added a fifth flavor to its product line and is now bringing on new sales representatives in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and east Texas.

“Our goal, if we keep track with current momentum and stay true to our brand, is to be the next Gatorade of Louisiana,” Tucker says. “The next step is bringing it to the national level.”

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