Every entrepreneur has his own story of struggles and battles, twists and turns, wins and losses. What matters, in the end, is that triumphant hooray as we each reap the fruit of hard work. Sean Matson, Co-Founder, and President of Strike Force Energy drinks, shares the amazing story behind its success and the journey to creating what is now Strike Force Energy. They are proud veteran-owned, and all of their products are made in the USA. Today, they offer a full range of energy products and are looking to expand into new horizons. They believe that everyone has a warrior within and their mission is to give you #FuelForYourFight.
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Discover Strike Force Energy with Sean Matson
This is a special treat. Sean Matson is on the show. He is President of Strike Force Energy. He’s a former Navy SEAL. Sean, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Bruce. I appreciate you for having me.
I’m excited we finally get together. We’ve got some announcements coming throughout the show that are going to make you happy. To start off, like any entrepreneur, there are struggles, successes and failures. Where is Strike Force now in the realm of energy drinks?
We started the company in 2016. Our primary focus is getting our product downrange to soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. We could ship this all over the world. We wanted it to be a product that had fewer ingredients. It was a little bit healthier for them and it still tasted like an energy drink. We started off getting the product down to those guys. We deployed online selling to various police stations, firefighters, and then grew into some of the civilian population as well and it picked up. Right now, we’re online. We’re up and down the East Coast with 7-Elevens from Maryland down to Florida. Hopefully, in the coming months, we’re going nationwide with 7-Eleven and other retailers as we continue to grow this thing out. That’s our ultimate goal, be a worldwide product. We’ve already shipped to over 30 or 40 countries already all over the world just because our product is so easy to ship. People from Australia to the UK and other countries find our product and we ship it up to them.
I have used, not your energy drink, but the energy drink in the store especially when I’m extreme hunting, when I’m up above 10,000 feet hunting sheep or mule there. I like the packaging that you have. Do you get a copy of the packaging?We buy certain products because we like the consistency. Click To Tweet
It’s not a powder. It’s a clear liquid. When you pour it into your beverage, it stays clear. You mentioned going above 10,000 feet. This stuff is not going to freeze. It takes below 30 degrees for it to freeze. The weather that we’re getting right now on the polar vortex up in the North, it might have some freeze up there. Even with that, you’d have to leave it outside or something. This is equivalent to a sixteen-ounce can of your typical canned energy drink. It has 160 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly about half of a grande Starbucks coffee, depending on which roasts and things like that. They usually run about 330 milligrams. I’m throwing out a lot of numbers but essentially, this is about half of a Starbucks coffee. You add it to water or tea. You can go hot tea or cold tea. You can do it into sparkling waters if you’re into that. If it’s a weekend and you want a refreshing cocktail, you can put it in vodka and soda water. A lot of our redneck friends love it in the nice NASCAR beer. You can take a grape, for example, and pour it into a Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light and any of those lighter beers like that. It tastes just like grape soda. There’s a lot of versatility in our product, whether you’re out hunting, doing some extreme sports or you want something on the weekend.
We know the energy drink is huge. It’s a billion-dollar industry. What made you think you and Bruce could pony up and make this work?
We’re different. We’ve created an entirely new category in this. You have your stick packs. Think of Crystal Light or some of the other powder type drinks. When they’re powder, they don’t taste like an energy drink. None of them tastes anything like an energy drink. You have a MiO or something like the Squirt OnDemand type of stuff, which don’t taste like an energy drink. They’re colored and ultimately, they don’t give you consistency. If you’re a Coke drinker, you drink Coke because you want it to taste Coke every time you drink it. You don’t want to pick up a Coke and be like, “That doesn’t taste like a Coke.” You’re a coke person because you love that consistency and that flavor. That’s why we buy certain products because we want that consistency. With ours being that as a single serve item, when you pour this into sixteen to twenty ounces, it’s what we recommend, into that volume of your beverage, you’re going to get that consistency today, tomorrow, next year, three years from now. It doesn’t matter. You’re going to get that consistency every time. There’s no guessing game in that and going, “I’ve got to add a little bit more. I need to add a little bit more water.” It’s like trying to make a chemistry project. The single-serve piece of it was why we thought it created a whole new category. We came into the market knowing that we needed to have less ingredients than your typical canned energy drink.
We have about a third of the ingredients that you find on your canned energy drinks, and less of those ingredients with our military focus group. We all like to go do extreme sports. I enjoy going skydiving, hiking, hunting, and just being outdoors, camping, fishing, and everything. I want to make sure what I’m putting into my body is not just a laundry list of ingredients in there. We created a new category. Long story longer, we felt that it was time to get into the market. The reception has been very well so far for us. We see a huge potential because our customers are still buying regular canned energy drinks when it’s convenient for them. They go into a 7-Eleven or someplace and they’re running off to work. They can grab that. They’re grabbing two or three of these on their way out too because when they get to their office or later, they can have this at the right time. It’s the same thing with hunters and things like that or anybody that goes outdoors or you’re on the go a lot. You don’t want to be carrying around a six-pack of energy drinks. One, you can’t keep them cold. Two, they’re bulky and heavy. You either have water or have the ability to make water so you could throw this in there, and it’s going to taste like an energy drink.
You and Bruce were sitting in Starbucks and said, “Let’s create an energy drink.” Is that how it happened?
Bruce came up with the idea initially. He was sitting down eating a hotdog. He was pouring ketchup onto his hot dog, and he was just like, “Why can’t we just take the chemistry that’s in an energy drink and put it into a ketchup packet?” That was the initial idea. He’s like, “You could do this and you could ship this all over the world.” He and I met late 2015 and we were working on a project and he had this idea. He was showing it to me and put some of this chemistry into a water bottle. I was blown away and I was like, “What is this stuff? This stuff is amazing.” I was still active duty at the time and I’m like, “Am I going to be positive on a drug test? What is this?” I’m an active duty SEAL officer and he just threw something and poured it into my drink that I have no idea what it is. I’m just like, “How am I going to answer for this on a random drug test?” He was like, “Nope. It’s just caffeine, vitamins, potassium and acids for flavoring.” I immediately fell in love with the flavor of it. It tasted exactly like a Red Bull without an aftertaste. I was like, “I think you’re onto something.” He was like, “I’m not sure what this could be or where it is or what it is.” I was like, “Give me a few weeks and let’s go see.”
He had a few samples in this white-labeled packaging. I sent it around to friends that were deployed downrange and a few others down to other areas of Florida and some out in California. Their response was like, “What is this stuff and where can I get more?” I sent that all to him and a few months later, we started a company and the rest is history. We had no idea that we were going to manufacture this stuff or do anything. When I came back, I was like, “This is a hit. Let’s make this.” He’s like, “We don’t have a machine. We don’t have a company. I don’t know what this looks like either.” A few weeks later, we started the company. January 5th was our first sale of 2016. We turned on a website and started producing the product. It’s been a long road but it’s been exciting.
I love your Instagram post. That’s the main driver for you. A couple of guys got an idea, they’re making it work, and that’s why we’re talking together. My listenership all hunt. Some drink beer and some drink whatever. The energy drink market is huge. It’s a huge thing because everybody wants that little bit of juice. To carry around cans doesn’t work, especially if I’m up in the mountains. I live in Colorado and I spent a lot of time in the mountain scouting or just being in the mountains. Cans don’t work. It all has to be freeze dried food or packets like you have, or tubes which had the powder. I’m excited to get that on the mountains and start using it, and then see how it affects me. When you think of that, you think of the opportunities that people have.
We talked a little about Strike Force. Let’s talk about Sean and what drives you to be a successful entrepreneur? You are successful. You created a product and someone bought the product so you are successful. If nobody else bought it, you’d still be successful. You’re down the road and great things are going to happen because you’re going to just completely blow it up or somebody is going to come in and buy it. Those are the two things that are happening with any business. You get it successful and you go, “No, we don’t want to sell it,” until somebody comes in and says, “We’ll sell it. We’ll be consultants or whatever, then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do next.” Let’s talk about Sean. What are some of the character traits that helped you get to where you are now?
I’m a no-fail person. I love the operational side of things and just going to go do something and start and go. I’m a very much that active person in the company. My title is president, but I’m very engaged in the day-to-day things. For me, what’s exciting about being an entrepreneur is no two days are the same. Every day that I wake up, it’s always like, “Let’s see what we can do to keep moving forward and keep driving forward.” I look at what we’ve built so far and I see so many resemblances of what I had in my platoon and things like that, where each guy has a specific job in the platoon and he’s the expert. It’s like you’re a sniper or you’re preacher or the lead nav. All these guys have a knack for that specific job and they’re the subject matter expert. Just about every other person in that platoon knows how to do that job also. They’re not going to be as good or as efficient, but they know how to do it so that one, if that guy ever went down, someone could step up and take over that job and we could figure out how to continue the mission and it’s not going to be a failure. Two, the saying is, “You’re a jack of all trades and master of none.” That’s exactly how we’ve built our team in this as well. There are a lot of guys that are involved.
Some days can get very frustrating because you have a lot of people putting an input and stuff, but at the end of the day, it all makes us better. Bruce, if you were in charge of one thing and you are stove-piped and that’s what you continue to do, you’re always going to get those same results because you know what you know and you revolve and you surround yourself around your team. If you’re never talking to these guys, you’re always going to get that same thing over and over again because those are the same guys that are giving you feedback, ideas and everything into that. If you mix it up a little bit and keep things interesting, that allows for a better product at the end. Sometimes it might make it slower to get to the end point, but you’re going to have a better result to that. I enjoyed that part of it and being one of the cores of it. I’ll still get into customer service tickets. I’ll still go out and go sell a product or walk into 7-Elevens and meet with owners. At the end of the day, that gives me firsthand experience of what’s going on at the front lines of our business. I can peel back the onions and figure out how we can do things better.
The TV show, Undercover Boss, is a great example of how that works in large corporations. Where they had failed and why they have to go on those shows is because they never built that in from the beginning. As soon as they started growing, they were like segment, segment, segment and started stove-piping everything. No one talks to each other. It’s like, “Do you remember John from the admin department? They’re like, “He still works here?” That stuff shouldn’t happen in an organization. We see more and more of that model being used in some of these tech companies and other successful businesses that are out there because they’ve gone away from offices and things like that and they have more communal type workplaces so that people are more engaged. That drives the innovation and it drives collaboration. You get a better product when it’s all said and done.
I can’t remember the guy who wrote the book, Management by Walking Around. What he did is he spent a large portion of his time not on meetings but going to where his business was in the global companies. He would jump on a jet and show up. He gets on an airplane and flies. He’d leave Phoenix in the morning and get back to Phoenix at night. He spent the whole day on different airplanes. The crew would recognize him, but he would engage with the people sitting next to him and say, “What kind of airline is this?” He would just be a person. They didn’t recognize him, but he found out a lot of great intelligence. He was his own consultant. I liked how you said stovepipe because we get locked into what I do well, but I only know what I know and I can’t bring anything else to the table. I’m done. I know exactly what I know, and I know it well. That’s good but when push comes to shove, I better know how to shoot the .50 cal and do the nav and take out that wall. I’d better know how to do all that and get us out of here, if that’s the case. In elite military teams, they are all cross-trained because you never know.
I heavily rely on feedback from the individuals that I put in charge or we put in charge of different departments for that. Once you make a decision, own it and then continue to go with it. Trust your instincts and go forward with it, and not the other way around where you’re always asking like, “Can I go do this?” Something that I’ve always said in the teams and also other guys, I would talk about like, “At the end of the day, when you’re going in through a door for the first time, I want a guy that kicks down the door and is able to react to a situation and move through without asking.” The last thing I want is a guy that kicks through the door, takes two steps in and turns around and be like, “What’s next?” take a couple more steps and move somewhere else and then like, “What’s next?” That is the worst situation ever to happen.
Unfortunately, there are units that have to put that type of leash on guys because they can’t trust them. I was blessed to work with guys where that was the complete opposite. Usually it was like, “Let’s hold back. We’re biting off a little more than we can chew right now. Let’s assess the situation.” They move so fast sometimes it’s like, “Let’s pull back,” not the other way around. I’d rather be in that situation where we pull back and have to push people. It’s the same scenario for us in Strike Force and how we’re growing our company. I would much rather have a guy that I constantly have to reel in than a guy that I have to like, “You need to pick it up. You need to do more.” It’s a way better situation for everyone in that case.
Back in the coast guard where I serve, we were a tight team. We had two pilots. We had a flight map, we had me, the rescue guy and then depending on the case, we had a medic with us. That was it. We all had to do our job with no hesitation because hesitation or doing the wrong thing could get people killed. If I’m on the hoist and I stopped because I’m not sure of the cable wraps, then the whole mission is screwed because I’ve got cutaway, and the helicopter is worthless then. Just like you, if I go through a door and I turned around, I could be dead. Let’s move fast forward to the company. In the company, you want people to own their mistakes and learn from them. People are going to make mistakes. Many people are afraid of making a mistake and looking bad when the exact opposite is true. Go make mistakes.Rely on the feedback from the individual that you put in-charge. Click To Tweet
I make mistakes all the time. It would be embarrassing to tell you how many mistakes I make, but that’s just being a human and learning from those. What I try hard to do is if I make a mistake and when I make a mistake, learn from that mistake and then assess from it. Hopefully, you never make that same mistake twice. Ultimately, it doesn’t always work out and I might pay for that, but that’s what I strive to do. I hope the people that we work with and work for us have that same mentality as well like, “I get it. I did make a mistake, but let’s learn from that mistake and let’s continue to move forward.”
What’s the mission statement for Strike Force Energy?
We call it the fuel for your fight. Whether your fight is a stay-at-home mom or the most extreme athlete, we’re providing that fuel for your fight. That’s through the energy products that we have here, but we also have others that are in development right now. We have a coffee product here that we just launched. This is an actual black coffee. It’s in a liquid form, but it’s a real coffee in an instant. You can pour it right into cold or hot water. We’ve got protein and energy bars coming soon. We’ve got other products that are in that space.
It fits in everybody’s purse or pocket. The portability is outstanding.
The portability and also the endless combinations. This is the original flavor, but you can put this in water, tea, beer, liquor. All the other flavors of water, tea, beer, liquor, not just the plain ones, you’ve got all those things. We call that the flavor of freedom. It’s veteran or American made. That’s the freedom part of it. Also, the flavor of freedom means that you can mix it in anything and on the go. Let’s say you walk into someplace and they’ve got great Strike Force and they’ve got strawberry flavored water, and you want a strawberry and great energy drink, now you have that option where before, you might not have that because they don’t make that in a ready-to-drink can for you. It’s that flexibility and portability.
Customers are seeing this more and more. I don’t go to fast food restaurants but from what I’ve been told, they have a soda machine that would have five to ten heads on it. Now they’ve got those big soda machines that are like million-flavored soda machine type things where you can add a little flavoring of this and you get all those different combinations in a soda fountain. We’re providing that in a portable single-serve packet with our product. The ready to drink stuff is already there in the convenience store or you have access to it in your fridge or other places. Now you can add another flavor and create that energy drink for that.
How do people buy your product?
StrikeForceEnergy.com is our website. The promo that we got going on is if you’ve never tried our product before, we’re doing free sample packs. We have a sample pack that has all four flavors in it. If you use the code, WRFree, before the end of February 2019, you’ll get that sample pack for free. It’s 100% free. Just put it in your name and your shipping address and you’ll get that for free. After you liked the product and you want to come back and buy more, we got another code for you, and it’s WR2019SF. That would be for 20% off every order after that. You can get shirts and hats. We’ve got cups. We’ve got these nice vacuum cups plus bottles and other things like that, and that code will be good for as well. StrikeForceEnergy.com is our website and we’re on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and all the other platforms.
Are you for sale on Amazon also?
We are on as well on Amazon. The only problem is those codes will not be able to work on Amazon. We’re on Amazon Prime. We ship all over the world.
If you’ve never tried Strike Force Energy, use promo code, WRFree, and you’re going to get a four-pack free. It’s going to come to you. After you get it and you like it, then use promo code WR2019SF and get 20% off your whole order for 2019. I look forward to getting my sample pack. I look forward to having more of Sean’s pro staff or team on because we’re going to be promoting him at least once every month. For the next ten months, we’ll have somebody from Strike Force Energy telling us what’s new, sharing new products, and doing a product promo for them. This is an opportunity to get Strike Force Energy for free.
I appreciate it, Bruce. I look forward to supporting the community. Anything else you need from us, we’re on social media. We’re constantly engaging with our customers on email or social media. If you need anything from us, let our team know. We look forward to giving you the fuel you need to go do whatever you’ve got to do.
Thanks so much.
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About Strike Force Energy
Strike Force Energy is an energy infused high powered liquid flavor pack additive. Each pack turns your ½ liter beverage into a full flavor high energy drink. We created Strike Force so you can have the freshest energy drink possible in any beverage anytime. Taste the Flavor of FreedomIt wasn’t so long ago that Sean Matson was a full-time Navy SEAL, who had 5 deployments under his belt, while continuing his service as a reservist. It’s the knowledge and skill he gained in the Navy that helped him transition to civilian life as an entrepreneur, while remaining attached to SEAL Team 18 as an LCDR SEAL reservist. It’s also the reason he specializes in producing Strike Force Energy, a healthier energy drink option formulated specifically for people deployed all over the world.
Strike Force Energy was founded in November of 2015, and is privately held by its founders. The veteran-owned, American-made company experiences 40% growth, month over month since its beginning, and remains a privately held company. Seeing 2018 as a year of rapid growth, they’ve already secured a place on 7-Eleven’s shelves, and are seeing an abundance of interest from competitors, as well as grocery, fast food, and mass retailers. Strike Force takes advantage of in-house manufacturing and distribution. Its compact size uses a tiny footprint, making storage and shipping a low-risk solution for retailers. Strike Force comes in a single-serve stick pack, and you can create your own variety. They also consistently win taste test over competing drinks.