Alumni Spotlight - Rebecca Walter
In this day and age it seems almost impossible to be on the go AND have access to nutritious snacks. When time is scarce and prepping a meal at home is rarely an option, we are forced to settle for drive-thrus, processed food or skipping meals altogether. However, with this problem there existed an opportunity that two women wanted to tackle. Their solution: UGo Bars.
Before what came to be known as UGo Bars LLC existed, the founders, Rebecca Walter and Tracy Gates, both lived their lives on the go traveling often for work and spending long days on the job. They often found that their diets suffered and that healthy, fresh food choices were scarce. In their minds, something needed to be done to get them the nutrition they needed.
Rebecca Walter is not only the co-founder of UGo Bars, but is also a 2007 graduate of the University of Michigan. Rebecca was kind enough to share her story with us for our first Alumni Spotlight of 2016.
Rebecca grew up in the Metro Detroit, Michigan area and attended the University of Michigan where she graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish. She was also a member of the track and cross country teams during her time at Michigan. Shortly after graduation, Rebecca landed a job coaching Mens and Womens track and cross country at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN where she lives today. When she is not working, Rebecca's hobbies include running, cooking and enjoying the outdoors.
What inspired the idea of UGo Bars?:
Though she loved coaching track and cross country, the nature of the job (weekly travel, long days, etc) was taking its toll on her daily nutrition. That's when Rebecca and friend Tracy Gates decided that they should start preparing healthy snacks that can be enjoyed on the go. With both women having extensive athletic backgrounds and Tracy's experience in the food industry, the two had the foundational understanding necessary to begin experimenting in the kitchen. They began preparing healthy, fresh energy bars that they used to feed themselves and the athletes that Rebecca coached. Needless to say, the energy bars were well received.
What makes UGo Bars different from similar products on the market?
UGo Bars are all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, fresh, boast a unique line of bold sweet and savory flavors and are handcrafted by the UGo team locally in Bloomington, IN. The energy bars are made-to-order and have a 90 day shelf life to ensure optimal quality and nutritional benefits. Other bars you find at the store have shelf lives of a year or more, which makes them not so fresh.
"Every ingredient has a nutritional purpose, providing a fine balance of carbs, protein, healthy fats, and fiber, providing an even glycemic energy release. Each bar is loaded with antioxidants and health benefits. UGo bars are effective for pre- and post- activity, of both high and low intensity levels. They are perfect for everyone from elite athlete to everyday hungry people." - http://ugobars.com/mission/
How does one purchase UGo Bars?:
The company has partnered with Tiny Footprint Distribution to streamline the process of getting their product on the shelves of bigger retailers like Kroger and Marsh. Additionally, UGo Bars distributes to many local grocers and specialty shops such as Hubbard and Cravens, Bee Coffee and The Good Earth (find a complete list of locations to buy UGo Bars @ http://ugobars.com/locations/). Lastly, one can purchase his or her own box of one dozen UGo Bars by simply visiting their website (http://ugobars.com/store/) and placing an order.
What's next for UGo Bars?:
The success of UGo Bars reached such a level that the two owners left their previous careers and are now committed full-time to their business. Also, increased sales volumes triggered company growth in the form of hiring a small team to help prepare the orders each week. However, with growth comes the need for additional time and resources. Up to this point, the company utilizes a shared kitchen to produce their product, but with business booming, they have arranged to have their own kitchen starting in March 2016.
Additionally, as UGo Bars are known for their bold flavors, Rebecca and Tracy are always looking to experiment with new tastes. Currently, the two are working on incorporating spices to generate more savory selections to add to the 4 flavors currently available. It may not be long before you're able to purchase new flavors such as Chili or Vegan Mac 'n Cheese.
Anything else we should know about UGo Bars?
Community outreach is a core value for this company. UGo Bars fosters a positive relationship with local communities via charity runs, volunteering, and donating proceeds. The company also partners with the Patachou Foundation and Capuchin Soup Kitchen (the largest soup kitchen in Detroit) to donate their product to the hungry.
Lastly, if you could fly in one meal from Ann Arbor, what would it be?
Restaurant: Prickly Pear
Meal: Grilled Scallop Salad
We thank Rebecca for taking the time to share her story and for helping to make the world a healthier place one UGo Bar at a time. Rebecca, Tracy and UGo Bars each embody the "Michigan Difference."
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