Canadian tennis icon and entrepreneur Vasek Pospisil is rallying around functional mushrooms

The Vernon native's new product is geared towards performance in athletes.

Vasek Pospisil

Credit: Hekate

The Vernon native’s new product is geared towards performance in athletes

When BCBusiness reaches Vasek Pospisil over Zoom, he’s still recovering from the night before. Fair enough—after all, the Canadian tennis star spent some two hours and 40 minutes trading blows with Australian Jordan Thompson in the sweltering West Vancouver heat.

Pospisil eventually prevailed in three sets and has another match today in the quarterfinals of the Odlum Brown VanOpen as he tries to get his tennis career back on track following a nasty elbow injury.

Helping him make that return is the use of functional mushrooms, something Pospisil, who was born and raised in Vernon, first got into after undergoing back surgery in 2019. In recovery, he started working with the Golden State Warriors’ micro nutritionist, who suggested that he start looking into certain mushroom products.

“I had never heard of them,” Pospisil recalls. “As I learned more, it became my daily routine. To this day it still is, I basically take mushrooms every day. I became obsessed, I feel like it really helped me.”

So much so that Pospisil and friends Russell Henderson and Russell Kates founded Hekate specifically to help both athletes and weekend warriors perform to their maximum capabilities.

“I realized it was a bit of an untapped opportunity,” he recalls. “There were a lot of companies that were making inferior quality mushroom products—I thought it was a good opportunity to explore. And I was injured, so I had time on my hands.”

Functional mushrooms and the road back to tennis stardom

Pospisil, a Wimbledon doubles champion, was once ranked 25th in the world. After the back surgery he had a tough hill to climb, but, due to the mushrooms or not, eventually rose from the 248th ranked player all the way to 61. He was named Comeback Player of the Year by the Association of Tennis Professionals in 2020.

Now dealing with another setback in his elbow, Pospisil says he has a lot of tennis left in him as he fights to improve on his current ranking of 145.

He’s doing that even as he spends “quite a bit of time” serving as interim CEO of Hekate while the company looks for a qualified executive to take over the reins. It’s not exactly been a quiet period for the business, either.

Pospisil and his team just launched Hekate Sport—which he calls the “first-ever mushroom-powered hydration sports drink, made from 100-percent natural ingredients to reduce stress, improve focus and support recovery.”

When asked if the goal is for Hekate Sport to essentially replace Gatorade, Pospisil says it’s more than that, as different blends accomplish different things. But Hekate Sport’s hydration variety should do the job more effectively than, say, Cool Blue.

“Our hydration skew definitely should be a replacement—no offence to Gatorade, but it’s just sugar and salt,” he says. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid—the stereotypical, mass-produced thing to make as much money as possible.”

Recently, Canadian Olympic swimmer Penny Oleksiak joined the Hekate team as a partner, and Pospisil says the team is looking to expand on its current count of four full-time employees as well as move its manufacturing from a facility in Los Angeles to one in B.C.

“The next six months might look quite different,” he says. “We’re going to start growing at a pretty quick speed here I think.”