Local veteran and women owned business, TurboPUP, will appear on the critically-acclaimed reality TV show Shark Tank on January 16 at 9 pm on ABC. Facing a group of tough, self-made entrepreneurs looking to find the next big idea to invest in will be La Pine-based Founder and Owner Kristina Guerrero with her TurboPUP bar.
What started as an idea for a meal replacement bar for dogs (inspired by Guerrero’s hungry pooch Dunkan on a backcountry ski trip), is now a full-fledged business. Guerrero is already experienced in pitching her idea to investors; she appeared at the 2013 Bend Venture Conference, and has been awarded several grants in the past few years that have been foundational in getting the business off the ground.
A $1,000 Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps Award in 2013 and a $25,000 award from Citi and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University helped her transition from making the bars at home to finding a large-scale manufacturer.
Her appearance on the national TV show, however, could open up a whole host of opportunities. “My goal has always been to have a successful business that gives back and [supports]veterans and canine causes,” Guerrero said. “When Shark Tank started unfolding I thought, ‘Well I’ll give it a whirl,’ but I’m trying to stay grounded. One of the things I’ve consciously tried to do is not put all my eggs in the Shark Tank basket, and keep moving forward with my plan for the business. I am excited though!”
Initially responding to a flood of emails from friends who saw Shark Tank was recruiting veteran entrepreneurs last May, Guerrero applied to the show, and started the months-long process that will culminate with the airing of the show on January 16.
“It’s such an amazing one of a kind experience,” she said. “I’m going in with no expectations, and even when I start to think about possible outcomes I think to what one of my mentors, Dan Wellisch at Flash Ink said: ‘Manifest the best possible outcome with everything I do with my business.’”
Guerrero gained many of the skills she would need to found her company from her time serving in the U.S. Air Force. She had over 12 years in active duty and in the reserves as a C130 pilot in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and on the Horn of Africa.
“All the military experience has prepared me to create a goal and execute it, and also how to be incredibly resourceful and use and rely on your team,” she said. “I don’t think I would have nearly the amount of initiative had it not been for the military, and it help me become an entrepreneur.
“TurboPUP is a labor of love and inspired by my love for dogs and veterans, ultimately I want to pay it forward. I’ve gotten a lot of help and support from companies, organizations and people, and I want to use this accomplishment to [recognize all they have done],” Guerrero concluded.
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