David Istier, Founder and CEO of Gutzy Organic describes the personal and nutritional journey which resulted in the launch of this gutsy little enterprise specializing in plant-based, organic snack pouches, packed with prebiotics for optimal gut health.
I grew up in France but developed a love for basketball very early on. I ended up going to college in the US, where I continued to play basketball. My first job was in the UK, doing marketing for Quorn Foods and Cadburys.
Inspired by the French dessert “Compote,” I partnered with a British man to launch GoGo Squeez, a company that made healthy fruit snack pouches for kids. Parents would tell me that they were eating their kids’ pouches and wondered why there was nothing similar on the market for them.
This inspired me to leave GoGo Squeez and launch my own business, “Keep Moving,” to fill the gap in the market. I put my whole life into this business but it didn’t do too well. I lost all my savings and became very stressed in the process. I started having acid reflux and skin problems, both physical symptoms of stress. Of course, I was eating very badly and drinking too much, until I got to the point where something had to change.
I went to see an herbalist in New York and healed my body through herbal teas and prebiotics. The change was incredible and I started to research prebiotics and a plant-based lifestyle a little more. Three years ago, the company pivoted to Gutzy and became organic, and since then I’ve never looked back.
Our products are in all the major supermarkets and we do business with Walmart and Amazon online. Several professional athletes have also reached out to us, and this is wonderful because our products are not necessarily designed for sport.
We’re the first refrigerated fresh, gut-healthy, organic, plant-based snack with prebiotics. We don’t really have a direct competitor at this stage. Our leading product is the Strawberry, Kiwi, and Kale snack, which was actually our first product. All our products taste amazing, and being French, this is one of the most important things for me.
Our products are all under 100 calories, with no added sugar or artificial flavorings. The shelf-life is up to five months.
The majority of our customers seem to be active women, with kids. They’re usually buying for the family; the Strawberry, Kiwi, and Kale for the kids and then the Botanical for themselves. Our products are pretty affordable (about $2 a pouch), making them accessible to a wider audience.
We have trillions of bacteria that live in our gut. Probiotics are simply the good bacteria that are already in our gut. When you have yogurt, for example, you’re simply adding more of those good bacteria to your gut.
Prebiotics are the fibrous nutrients that probiotics feed on. Examples of vegetables high in prebiotics are artichoke and asparagus. We use the sap from the Acacia tree.
At the moment, the pouches are still not recyclable but fortunately, there are some companies looking into making this possible. However, pouches are still a much more sustainable option than plastic bottles for example, as the cap is recyclable and the pouches are much lighter.
We hope that in the next four or five years, the pouches will be completely recyclable. We have a partnership with GoGo Squeez and TerraCycle, which is a company that up-cycles the pouches. We are very mindful of sustainability and we know that one day we will get to the point where we are 100% sustainable.
I think the physical and emotional are linked. There’s more and more research being carried out around the gut being the second brain.
If your gut is unhealthy, you may have low energy levels, bloating, gas, stomach pain, and other symptoms. If food is not digested properly, for whatever reason, you can develop what is known as a “leaky” gut, whereby bad bacteria attack the lining of the gut. The immune system then starts falling apart because the food is no longer digested.
Psyllium husk is a “pusher” so it certainly gets things moving and has a bulking effect, too. If you ingest quite a large amount, it can have a bloating effect and you do need to drink a lot of water as it expands substantially in the body. We believe that Acacia is a much better, or “cleaner” prebiotic and is much easier on the body.
As I mentioned earlier, athletes love our products. We recently signed a partnership with an American female Olympian mountain biker, so we’re planning on working more and more with athletes. We also plan to expand our distribution networks to be more widely available in the US.
In addition to this, we’re looking at developing a range of plant-based proteins containing prebiotics.
Watch this space!