GU Energy Labs
|Headquarters||Berkeley, California, United States|
|Key people||Brian Vaughan, president|
GU Energy Labs is a company based in Berkeley, California, that produces performance sports nutrition products, most notably energy gels. Usually consumed during endurance events, the gels are designed to be quickly and easily digested. Other products include energy chews, drink mixes (called "brews"), brew tablets, and a Roctane Ultra Endurance line that includes an energy drink mix and gel.
History of energy gels
Sports energy gels emerged in the United Kingdom in 1986 as a "convenient, prewrapped, portable" way to deliver carbohydrates during endurance events. Gels have a gooey texture and are sometimes referred to as "goo" generically.
Bill Vaughan, a biophysicist at University of California, Berkeley, began working on an energy gel product in 1990. He established GU Energy Labs in Berkeley, California, in 1994. GU Energy Labs is regarded as the first major distributor of energy gels, supplying products at the Ironman World Championship in 1996. According to the company, its mission is "to help athletes go faster and longer than ever before". GU is now run by Bill's son, Brian Vaughan, who serves as president.
In June 2011, GU moved its corporate operations and 50 employees from a 13,000-square-foot (1,200 m2) space at 1204 Tenth Street to one with twice as much floor space. Located in Berkeley's 4th Street shopping district, the space was formerly occupied by Clif Bar, another sports nutrition company. The larger, 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) space, located at 1609 Fourth Street, affords the company an increased production capacity, with room for additional growth. GU's 2011 relocation marked the first time in five years that all of its employees operated from a single location; previously, the company's operations, shipping, and marketing were executed from multiple buildings throughout Berkeley. GU outsourced its shipping operations to a third party provider, "for improved service and response times".
GU Energy Labs produces a variety of performance sports nutrition products, including GU Energy Gel, GU Chomps (energy chews), drink mixes (branded as "Brews"), and a line of Roctane Ultra Endurance products. According to GU, their energy gel contains carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose), an amino acid blend, electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and, in some flavors, caffeine. Gel packets provide 100 calories and come in a variety of flavors, including blackberry, chocolate, mandarin orange, peppermint stick, raspberry, salted caramel, strawberry banana, triple berry, and vanilla. The company recommends consumption 15 minutes before an event, and every 45 minutes thereafter. The energy chews, created in 2009 and based on the gel formula, are made from similar ingredients but also include antioxidants and come in a chewable form. Two-serving packets supply 180 calories and 46 grams of carbohydrates. Gels are manufactured in-house, using custom machinery designed specifically for GU's packaging.
GU produces two brews: the GU Electrolyte Brew Drink (launched in 2001 and formerly known as Gu2o) and the GU Recovery Brew Drink. For most flavors, a 21-ounce (620 ml) serving of the electrolyte brew contains 325 milligrams of sodium and 50 milligrams of potassium. The Recovery Brew, designed for consumption following physical activity, was created in 2009 and includes amino acids, antioxidants, carbohydrates, and protein. GU Electrolyte Brew Tablets contain a low-calorie sweetening agent derived from Stevia.
GU's Roctane Ultra Endurance line, introduced in 2008, includes an energy gel and a drink mix. The drink formula contains caffeine (in most flavors), beta-Alanine, taurine, and additional amino acids. Each serving provides 240 calories. Compared to GU's original energy gel, servings of Roctane energy gel contains three times more branched-chain amino acids, more electrolytes, and ten times more histidine.
Sponsorships and charity work
In 2010, GU announced that Brazilian athletes would be using their products for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but that the arrangement would "not involve commercial considerations". In 2011, the company partnered with USA Triathlon, becoming a Silver-Level Sponsor of the National Governing Body through 2013. The sponsorship agreement, which applied to the category of energy chews and gels, had GU supply products to Team USA, regional and national championship events, and the national triathlon and paratriathlon teams. GU also partnered with TriGrandPrix in 2011, supporting six events throughout Europe: TriGrandPrix UK, BH Zarauzko Triatloia, Aritzaleku Triathlon, Kilkenny Triathlon, Valencia Triathlon, and the Ciboure Itsas-Mendi Triathlon. GU is the official product sponsor for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series and chew sponsor for the Leadville Race Series. In 2012, the company became the first official gel and chew sponsor for Ironman as part of a two-year agreement. GU has sponsored many other sporting events, ranging from endurance cycling competitions, to the Ironman World Championship, Ironman 70.3 and other triathlon events, to marathons and other running events.
In 2013, in conjunction with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, GU established the "Challenge for Kids" campaign to benefit children suffering from amputation maladies, including traumatic limb loss, congenital effects, and "disease-state" complications. The company created a special edition passionfruit flavor for its Roctane line; profits from the product would allow the purchase of prosthetics, allowing children to regain mobility. GU increased its goal to $100,000, having surpassed its original goal of $50,000. The company has also supported the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, an organization that promotes high school mountain biking.
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- Leadville Race Series:
- "The Lowdown on Leadville". GU Energy Labs. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
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- Sponsorship of marathons and other running events:
- "GU Energy Labs". Modesto Marathon. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "Hawaiian Airlines, Lucky and GU Energy Labs Return to Oakland Running Festival". Oakland Running Festival. February 4, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "Course FAQs". Sydney Running Festival. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Thomas, Garvin (October 31, 2013). "San Jose Amputee Gets Second Chance at Ironman Championship". NBC. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Roethenbaugh, Gary (December 12, 2013). "GU Energy 'Challenge for Kids' charity campaign has new target of US$100,000". Triathlon Business. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- "Challenge for Kids". GU Energy Labs. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Wright, Gordon (December 11, 2013). "GU Charity Campaign Passes $50,000 – Aims for $100K". Outdoor Industry Association. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Vaughan, Brian (July 22, 2013). "GU Gives Supports NICA thru Colorado Trail Race". GU Energy Labs. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- Beaudin, Matthew (November 5, 2013). "National Interscholastic Cycling Association adds 3 new mountain bike leagues". Retrieved February 25, 2014.