S.E.A. Hamsters is a service-based company which owns and maintains 6.5 ft. in diameter clear vinyl "hamster balls" that not only float on water with "human hamsters" inside, but are perfectly safe doing so! Equipped with a carbon air compressor to keep a constant flow of air in the ball and a two-way zipper to allow the occupant to exit any time, S.E.A. Hamster balls are now being used at fairs, birthday parties, festivals, corporate events and even on lakes. The human hamster balls float on a 26' x 26' inflatable pool, with a water depth of 18''.
The idea started when Lizzie's youngest sister, Annika, was watching a One Direction video one day and noticed that the enclosed bubbles the artists were floating on water in needed updates and extra features. After collaborating as sisters, S (Stephanie). E (Elizabeth). A (Annika) Hamsters was born. "We first launched the business at a local county fair where we would have five balls and a pool that was filled with a foot of water. Kids of all ages were able to have a ride in the hamster ball for five minutes for $8 each.
After noticing the excitement for their product, the sisters took to Shark Tank's Milwaukee audition in support of small businesses. After submitting a 50-page application, 42-page contract and five minute video pitch, the girls made it to the finals, where although they're not allowed to speak of the final results, they say they learned a significant amount from the Sharks. "The overall experience was such an amazing learning opportunity for us," says Lizzie. "We learned how to gain respect from such respected business men and women. I also learned a lot of public speaking skills that will help me throughout my life. It was very scary and nerve-racking to talk in front of such amazing and successful people. I look up to the Sharks a lot and strive to be like them one day."
When it comes to attending college at Xavier, being a member of Delta Sigma Pi and helping her sisters operate the business, Lizzie admits it isn't always easy juggling S.E.A. Hamsters as well as an internship with Physi, a startup app in Cincinnati. "I have sought out tutors for some classes that were tougher for me which was a huge help along with using other available resources on campus," she says. "My brother has also been a huge help to me with not only helping me juggle my schedule but helping with homework whenever I'm in need. My chapter (Theta Lambda) also does a great job of helping one another with schoolwork. For example, if you're a freshman in a first level accounting class, chances are you know a handful of senior brothers who are accounting majors that are more than willing to help you because they all want you to succeed."
Lizzie's advice for those who are wanting to follow in her footsteps and start their own businesses? "I think anyone who has an idea should go for it, and not in 5 or 10 years from now, but right now. College students especially have access to all sorts of different resources and are surrounded by faculty, staff and peers that all want to see them succeed. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help; so many times we fail or quit because we were too scared to ask for help."
So what's next for these S.E.A. Hamsters? According to Lizzie, "We have some big plans coming up soon so be sure to follow us on social media!"
S.E.A. Hamster balls in full use!
The Jahr family poses during a casting call for ABC's Shark Tank in Milwaukee.
From left, Stephanie, Lizzie and Annika pose in front of a Xavier University logo in support of where Lizzie currently attends college.