At 22, Sam Mikulak’s resume includes Olympian, World medalist, U.S. and NCAA champion, and now… entrepreneur. Mikulak has launched an energy tea drink, MatéBros, with the help of longtime friends Jordan Gaarenstroom, who was Mikulak’s teammate in high school and at the University of Michigan, and former gymnast Alex Anunciation.
The trio stumbled across a version of the tea years ago, and according to Mikulak, it made an immediate impact on their training.
“Jordan and I went to practice, and ended up having one of the best practices of our lives,” Mikulak recalls of his first experience with the drink. “I’ve been drinking this ever since that day – and it’s helped me achieve my biggest goals. I just want to share what I think has helped benefit my training for so long with the world.”
Beyond the boost of energy it provides, Mikulak said that it has brought his Michigan teammates closer together as they often would enjoy the beverage before each NCAA competition – including the back-to-back titles the school grabbed in 2013 and 2014.
Mikulak, Gaarenstroom and Anunciation now have their sights set on bringing the drink to the masses, launching a kickstarter.com campaign to help raise funds.
“We’ve seen some great support. We’ve raised over $13,000 so far,” Mikulak said of the response to the MatéBros Kickstarter. “It’s kind of a way to get people more involved in what has helped me become the athlete I am today. That’s been one of the best parts of this experience.”
The campaign, which runs through Dec. 31, is to raise $37,000 to help get the company on its feet. Incentives to support the campaign range from a personalized thank you from the trio to having Mikulak fly out to a gym and serve as a coach for a day.
Though Mikulak is busy helping get MatéBros off the ground, he hasn’t lost focus on his ultimate goal: winning a medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“I said [the Olympics were] 18 months away the other day, and it kind of blew my mind,” the two-time U.S. champ said.
Though the World Championships in 2014 may not have gone exactly to plan for Mikulak on an individual level, he was an integral part of putting Team USA back on the medal podium.
“2014 was a lot about team dynamics,” Mikulak said on his biggest takeaway from the past season. “It’s something that we’ve been working on since 2012, making sure that we’re all very comfortable with one another and knowing what’s going to help everyone perform at the best of their ability.”
With a break from competition – Mikulak finished his NCAA career in April, winning his third all-around crown – the California-native said he hopes use the downtime to add skills to his routines in early 2015 with the intent on making few changes in the lead up to Rio.
“Right now, I’m working on getting my start values a lot higher,” said Mikulak. “I finally have some time to focus on upping my start values. I hope to be doing those same routines for the next year-and-a-half going into the Olympics.”
And with his NCAA eligibility behind him, Mikulak says he can change his approach as he prepares to represent Team USA.
“I’m going to have more time to focus on one individual competition,” Mikulak said. “Before, instead of having one peak moment, I would have to plateau for a while and stay on a pretty consistent level. Now, I can put everything I have into one or two performances on a specific date.”
With that singular goal in the mind, Mikulak will use his experience over the last three seasons as one of the United States’ top gymnasts as he seeks a second Olympic berth.
“You can only hope that everything you’ve been doing since the last quad has been working to better yourself in the new quad,” Mikulak said. “We’re just going to keep pushing ourselves, and hopefully, have the most successful 2016 Olympic Games that we could imagine.”