Making An Idea Reality: Joseph Tucker And Hydra-Guard Technologies
Story By Kerri Cooke ~ Photos By Marlow Mungia
In his TEDxLSU talk in 2016 Joseph Tucker said, “As an entrepreneur and inventor, my job is to come up with an idea and make it better than anyone else. It is especially great when the idea and what is created is something that solves a problem for many people.” Tucker made Business Report’s Forty Under 40 list in the same year.
Tucker is a Lake Charles native who attended McNeese State University before transferring to LSU. He is the founder of the company Hydra-Guard Technologies, which sells a hydrating mouthguard and all-natural sports drinks geared towards athletes.
It all started when Tucker was trying to find a solution to ease his dry mouth while he was running marathons. He didn’t want to run with water bottles which would weigh him down and give him a slower finish time. So, he began looking online for a product that could help. What he envisioned was not a product on the market, so he decided to create his idea. He made a sketch on a piece of paper of a mouthguard with a small pouch connected to it that could hold just enough liquid to wet his mouth when needed as he was training or in competition.
Through much trial and error, Tucker eventually developed Hydra-Guard’s Hydrating Mouthpiece.
The day before the launch of the mouthpiece, there was an event that sounds like fate. Odell Beckham, Jr., made his famous one-handed catch in the football game against the Dallas Cowboys and skyrocketed into fame. Now, this would have been inconsequential to the launch of the Hydrating Mouthpiece if it hadn’t been for the fact that Odell Beckham, Jr. was lined up to endorse the product.
The mouthpiece is made in such a way that the customer can boil it in order to customize the bite to their mouth. Bonded to the mouthpiece is a reservoir which holds 0.6 ounces of liquid. The reservoir is refillable and is said to have a lifespan of 227 uses. You suck on the reservoir when you need just a little bit of liquid to keep you from thinking about needing a drink. The mouthpiece is designed to allow the wearer to talk and breath normally while using it. The mouthguard can be purchased on Amazon or at hydratingmouthguard.com.
Tucker has also developed another product to help with another common problem he came into contact with as an athlete. Tuckers says that he has been “a consumer of sports drinks all my life.” He tried many different products but always ran into the same problem. Most sports drinks on the market were high in sugar and low on electrolytes because the taste of electrolytes is bitter. If you go over a certain amount of electrolytes, the flavor of the drink won’t be able to mask the bitterness of them — hence the usual dilemma.
Tucker became “more aware of what I was putting in my body” and after “years of frustration” set out to solve his problem. He partnered with the LSU AgCenter for the research and development phase on a new kind of sports drink — the kind he had looked for. After a year of research, in 2017, Tucker went public with his Hydra-Guard Recharge sports drink which was high in electrolytes, low in sugar and all-natural. The product was well-received as the drink filled a gap in the market.
Tucker began by selling his drinks in 20 stores where he delivered them himself. What started in a 55-gallon kettle as a small enterprise has grown to being sold in 400 to 500 stores from east Texas to Alabama. Tucker says new products are coming soon to Colorado and Georgia.
After a period of rebranding the sports drink, now called simply Hydra-Guard, Tucker says “2020 is the year” and the company is ready to come out stronger than ever.
Paul Millsap of the Denver Nuggets currently sits on the Hydra-Guard board and is the brand representative and responsible for player recruitment. Tucker says Hydra-Guard is looking to target other high-profile athletes in the NFL, NHL and other national sports entities.
Brand identity and visibility is Tucker’s goal for 2020. He says consumers should expect to see “a lot more Hydra-Guard at more retailers and in the local community.”
Hydra-Guard comes in seven flavors: fruit punch, grape, orange, lemon-lime, strawberry banana, blueberry and lemonade.
This year Hydra-Guard is launching single serve powder, kid pouches and popsicles. The popsicles will not only appeal to kids but Tucker hopes to get some plants on board to order the popsicles for their workers who might get dehydrated in the hot summer months. The popsicles will help bring workers’ core temperature back into normal range.
Tucker says to expect more sponsorships in the area and for Hydra-Guard to put on more events. He says he and his team will “give it a shot to be the next Gatorade, but for Louisiana.”
Hydra-guard is sold as a 12-pack; it can be found at Market Basket for $21 or $1.99 per bottle. Hydra-Guard has also reached a deal to be featured in all the Rouses stores.
What Tucker says he is most proud of in regards to his entrepreneurship is “putting people to work.” Hydra-Guard has grown to a team of eight people, and Tucker believes it is a great thing to create jobs. He also says, “Seeing the company develop from paper … is a dream come true.”