Seoul Juice, sports drink alternative created in Saint Louis University dorm, expands local retail footprint

A sports drink alternative, Seoul Juice, that was created in a Saint Louis University dorm room is expanding its retail footprint in St. Louis, as it this week hit the shelves at Dierbergs Markets.

Seoul Juice, sports drink alternative created in Saint Louis University dorm, expands local retail footprint

Luis Manta, a student-athlete with the Saint Louis University soccer team, had an allergic response to Gatorade after a practice.

He said that the experience led him to work with an athletic trainer at the university to find a tasty and hydrating alternative.

Manta admitted that he hated coconut water despite its being a 'perfect example' of the type of drink you should consume. He Googled "most hydrating fruits" and was delighted to find the Korean pear.

Manta grew up eating Asian fruit because his mother was born and raised in Asia. He knew that he liked it. Manta's only problem was that he couldn't find any Korean pear juice online. It had to be imported from Asia and cost $50 for 2 12-ounce cans.

His solution? To make it himself, in his dorm. Seoul Juice is a sports beverage alternative that he created by mixing organic lemon juice with Korean pear juice. He still uses the same ingredients today to make his beverage.

Manta has made a career out of the necessity to create the product. Seoul Juice was launched in California, USA in 2021. It is now sold in seven other states as well as internationally in Toronto.

Dierbergs Markets has just begun to distribute it. It was available in St. Louis as of November.

Manta is now 28 years old and studied at SLU. He graduated in 2017 with a degree of business administration and management. Manta said that the business school was informed about Manta’s dorm-based operations and offered to help turn it into a legal company.

Manta says he received a grant of about $5,000 from SLU. This helped him to cover his start-up costs and figure out branding. He said that SLU's Law School also helped with the legal aspects of launching a new business.

Manta stated, 'I cannot express enough how SLU helped Seoul Juice reach its current position.

Manta, after graduating from college, took a break and moved back to Phoenix. He worked at an incubator to gain experience in developing food lines for companies.

Manta stated that he sold his car when he felt ready and cashed out his 401K. He did not reveal any other financiers besides himself and SLU.

Manta stated that Seoul Juice has six employees and a production facility located in California, near the Korean pear orchards used to make the drink. The facility can produce 100,000 bottles a day.

Manta has said that Seoul Juice is set to launch in Seattle within the next month, and 'quite' a few other markets will follow.

He revealed that he is looking at launching new flavors and partnering with influencers. However, neither of these moves has a set timeline. Manta's current goal is to make Seoul Juice available across the country.

Manta stated that it was exciting for him to see his product go from being a dorm-room product he made just to have fun, and then pass out to friends at SLU to now being a Dierbergs system-wide release at the store he shopped in when he was in college. It's almost surreal to see the product on the shelves.