MSP Business Journal

How this protein-powder startup is using TikTok to sell out inventory faster than it can restock

By Carter Jones | 6.16.22

Ben Zaver was a few months away from graduating with a mechanical engineering degree when the pandemic started.

Rather than begin his engineering career, Zaver used the time spent sheltering at home to develop a whey protein powder that was clear and refreshing, unlike the chunky and unpleasant-tasting powders that dominate the market. 

After taking a year-and-a-half to perfect the formula, and teach himself how to run a business, Zaver along with Co-founder Hannah Perez launched Seeq in October 2021. In the ensuing months, the pair have posted $800,000 in sales solely by marketing on TikTok.

Zaver's account on the social platform rarely emphasizes the benefits of the product, but focuses instead on storytelling. 

The brand’s momentum on TikTok began two days before the product even launched when a video of Zaver and Perez giving samples around Minneapolis went viral. That initial interest led to the first batch of inventory selling out in a month.  

“We honestly had no clue how fast it would sell,” Zaver said. “I was honestly thinking anywhere between like five and six months.” 

When it came time to replenish that initial 14-pallet shipment, which was delivered to Zaver’s parents’ house, the pair learned they were facing a four-month lead time. Instead of immediately opening shop again for pre-orders, Perez said they took those four months to learn and make adjustments. 

One of those adjustments was the decision to move operations out of his parents’ basement and into a warehouse in Plymouth. Since making the move, they’ve already sold out of a 38-pallet shipment and are now expecting 150 more pallets in the next month. 

Zaver said Seeq’s followers think it's selling out so quickly to demonstrate scarcity and build more buzz around the product, but he promises supply-chain delays are to blame.

“We could not be ordering more,” he said. “We’re ordering like hundreds of thousands of pounds. But I think in the next four or five months we will finally be caught up.” 

The powder is produced by a turnkey manufacturer in Wisconsin that does everything from sourcing ingredients to packaging the 1.5-pound bottles. 

Looking ahead, Zaver and Perez said it would be easy to not change anything about their business model, but they plan to start selling on Amazon at the end of the year.

(Source: MSP Business Journal)