Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I am Sean Penrith, the CEO, and co-founder of Mindful Proteins. I was born in Zimbabwe, raised in South Africa, and have had the pleasure of being schooled as an entrepreneur internationally. I doubled Cape Horn on a 42’ ketch and ran a business in Buenos Aires before beginning new ventures in Johannesburg, the U.K., Wisconsin, and Portland Oregon. Mindful Proteins is the seventh business venture that I have been involved in as founder, partner, or chief executive.
I have been heavily immersed in the world of sustainability, carbon markets, conservation finance, and climate risk for more than two decades. It seemed natural to me to create a company that solidly aligns with my belief in being a responsible denizen of the world.
Jacoba, my co-founder, and I have set out to build the best functional food and beverage company in the world. All our products are what we term “clean label” as in they avoid the use of artificial ingredients, flavors, and sweeteners to deliver high levels of protein in our products. Our vision is to build Mindful Proteins on the solid principles of sustainability and product stewardship that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Our inaugural product is TATU Protein Water named after my mom, Tatu (tāh-too), who was an acclaimed South African artist. Tatu means three in Swahili, and we translate that as wellness for mind, body, and soul. She set me on my path to wellness and is the inspiration for our mission to use simple, safe, and healthy ingredients in TATU to offer convenient hydration and muscle recovery post-workout.
TATU is available initially in two flavors – Orange & Mango and Lemon & Ginger. Each 12 FL Oz can of TATU is loaded with 15g of the purest whey protein isolate, contains 0g of sugar or carbs, and just 60 calories. We source our whey from the pristine pastures of New Zealand. Our delicious and naturally flavored clear water provides 30% of your recommended daily dose of protein.
We have just completed our first year of sales and are ready to grow exponentially!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
This year, our goal is to hit $100,000 in revenue. We are growing Mindful Proteins at a slow and deliberate pace to understand how to best introduce TATU efficiently to the market.
At the end of 2022, we ran our second production run with our copacker. This run was double the size of our first run and was very successful. It took us an entire year to sell the product from our first run, and we are now already contemplating a third run because the product is selling a whole lot quicker.
We worked through countless mistakes from our first run, including refining the formulation, solidifying the pasteurization process, and finding new suppliers for our cans and boxes to ensure a more sustainable environmental impact.
We started to diversify our sales channels by creating and publishing our Amazon storefront. We now are selling TATU Protein Water via our website, Amazon, Faire for wholesale inquiries, and Subkit which offers solely subscription services. If you’re interested in trying TATU, look for us on one of these amazing platforms!
We participated in the 2023 Winter Fancy Food trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. We were one of the hundreds of booths networking with distributors, buyers, retailers, and more. This three-day trade show was a great way to connect with people in the CPG industry, as well as get feedback on our product and ideas.
We were featured in the “Trending Now” section of the show, along with a few other foods and beverages. Bevnet also featured TATU in their article “9 New Beverages Spotted at Winter Fancy Food Show 2023”. Overall, we believe this trade show will be a jumping-off point to grow our business in 2023.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
We believe that the biggest challenge that faces the food and beverage industry is innovation. The wholesale and distribution model for new companies is cumbersome and difficult to understand and navigate. We believe that there must be a better way to get our amazing product into the hands of consumers. We work day in and day out trying to find innovative solutions to an antiquated and entrenched system.
We are working towards diversifying our sales channels to find the one that fits our target consumer the best. TATU is for sale via Amazon, our website, Faire for wholesale orders, grocery stores, and in-person expos and events. We are trying to find the sales channel that creates the biggest impact for your target audience.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the best decisions we made this year is to ask for help. We reached out to our network and asked professional experts to help in areas in which we are not proficient. In the past, we have hesitated to do this but it has become extremely clear that we can benefit from an outside perspective. The two of us don’t need to do everything.
These first few years are incredibly crucial to understanding everything you can about your business, and to proving your concept to the world.
We hired a company to run our social media, which was taking a lot of our time. Social media and photography do not fit into the 20% of things that either of us is good at. As we mentioned in our last update through Starter Story, we spent time this past year identifying the skills each of us is good at.
Namely, identifying the 20% of time spent on skills that give one 80% of the impact. The other skills need to be handled by other professionals who are good at them. Social media was taking much more than 20% of our time and did not come near to being 80% of the impact.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This year, our goal is to hit $100,000 in revenue. We are growing Mindful Proteins at a slow and deliberate pace to understand how to best introduce TATU efficiently to the market. We are deliberately holding back on some opportunities that may not be the best fit for our brand, even though it may result in sales initially.
We want to be mindful of each relationship we start instead of growing too big and too fast. By starting slow, we can understand each sales channel’s strengths and weaknesses, without over-promising. We want to nurture each relationship we enter into to ensure that both parties are successful and that our promises to the consumer are met.
In 5 years TATU will come in a minimum of 5 flavors, and we will have at least three high-protein, better-for-you products in our line. We are crafting a dedicated growth and strategic plan that will be implemented over the next 5 years that will make Mindful Proteins a success. We will follow this road map that positions Mindful Proteins in the market for healthy, high-protein foods and beverages that help restore, recover, nourish, and hydrate.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. This book clearly explains the challenge we all face in ‘upper-limiting’ ourselves and falling short of our innate potential. It is a must-read!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Perseverance is the only way to start and grow a small business. Without this quality, you will fail. No matter how many times things go wrong, if you believe in your product and yourself things will start to go right! It may take two steps back to get one step forward, but that is okay.
There are lessons to be learned along the way to make the future run more smoothly. Each time a mistake is fixed, you grow and learn as a business owner. These first few years are incredibly crucial to understanding everything you can about your business, and to proving your concept to the world.
Keep moving forward, no matter what.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are hiring a commission-based sales wholesale rep who is immersed in the CPG world and has contacts in the natural grocery store space or access to distributors who service gyms or other fitness studios in the Pacific Northwest.
This position is paid on a commission basis, negotiable upon hire. We hope this person also has a passion for better-for-you products, as well as a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We want to welcome a new member to our mindful family. If this sounds like you, please email us a resume at email@example.com with Wholesale Sales Rep in the subject line.