When Hannah Perez arrived at Minnesota State, she thought her path would be to follow in her family’s footsteps and become a teacher.
But her mind would often wander to thoughts of starting her own business one day.
“I always had ideas about businesses and wanted to start a business. If the end goal is to start a business, I asked myself ‘what do I need to sell a product?’ and marketing is the best way to learn that,” Perez said.
She chose to follow those business thoughts.
Today she’s the co-founder of SEEQ, a company that makes a protein supplement with a juice-like feel which has gained an impressive following on TikTok.
Graduating from Minnesota State in 2019, Perez started her journey working in multiple fields of marketing.
She worked full-time after graduation at Social Butterfly, a digital media and social media marketing agency in Minneapolis. There she met Ben Zaver, who was an intern at the time. After his internship ended, Zaver brought in his product of juice-like protein for his colleagues to try.
Shortly after trying the product and hearing Zaver’s ideas, Perez knew this unique product was something she wanted to be involved in.
“If I see someone that has a passion for something and wants to start anything, I want to help in any way because I have different business experiences through IBE and other college experiences.”
She had a limited role for Zaver when the company started in October 2021, but gradually became more involved and moved into full-time production.
“I love that this brand has everything that I am already passionate about. Fitness, supplements and being a part of a group of go-getters,” Perez said. “I suggest that everyone out of college work at a start-up because you get a say in how things go.”
Seeing ideas come to life and gaining experience by wearing many hats, working in a start-up environment has its feats.
“If you asked me a year ago, ‘What would you be doing?’ I’d say I don’t know. We didn’t know the success of the company or when we were even going to pay ourselves,” Perez said.
SEEQ currently has over 30,000 followers on TikTok and had one of their first videos go viral. This gave them the momentum to sell out their first 4,000 units of product about a month after their first launch.
Mark Cuban, an entrepreneur featured on Shark Tank, tried their product on TikTok rating the flavor 10 out of 10 which led to an influx of orders. Redirecting Perez’s plans, she knew she had something worth working on.
Showing consumers what goes on behind the scenes of a company is one of the unique ways TikTok has helped businesses go viral.
“Being able to show the realness behind a company is the biggest thing business and brands can do on social media,” Perez said. “TikTok specifically gives companies the opportunity to show the real people working behind it.”
After selling out for five months, they quickly outgrew their basement space and moved into a warehouse in April 2022. They launched three more flavors, the newest tropical punch.
One of their main goals for next year is to expand their team as well as launch another flavor on the market.
“We want to be the White Claw of this protein powder,” Perez said. “Although White Claw didn’t invent the seltzer, whenever you think seltzer you think White Claw, so when you think of a juice-like protein we want you to think of SEEQ.”
SEEQ predicts a steady stream of sales to round off the year. The company’s goal is to be at $2.5 million in revenue at the end of the year; it currently sits at $2.25 million in revenue.
Perez had a few odd jobs before finding gold. After switching majors, Perez got involved in the United Prairie Bank Integrated Business Experience program at MSU. The program allows students to come up with a product, obtain a loan and then sell it to consumers in the span of one semester.
“I recommend anyone to do IBE,” Perez said. “I learned how to make quick decisions, to work with a team and to not let pride get in the way. We were all working toward the same goal and a lot of it was making decisions for the company as a whole.”
Her company, MN Comfort, sold hand-made wooden coasters and coffee tumblers.
Prior to being one of the co-founders of SEEQ, Perez owned her own marketing agency and worked directly with entrepreneurs and founders.
“The biggest thing I realized is that no one has their stuff together,” Perez said. “That was a big wake up call for me becuase you think after you graduate from college everyone has it figured out. But no, there are 55 year-old businessman that are still figuring it out.”
No matter how old you are, in today’s society a simple message can go a long way.
“LinkedIn is definitely the best place to reach out, and the power of the DM is so underrated,” Perez said. “I know so many people who have gotten jobs from so many big companies just from sending out a simple DM.”
Header photo: Hannah Perez (above) is the co-founder of SEEQ, a juice-like protein supplement that was launched in October 2021. (Photo Courtesy of Hannah Perez)
Write to Julia Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org