Turbocharged By ‘Shark Tank’ Investment
March 25th, 2016 by Victoria Hampton
Kristina Guerrero gives Odin a TurboPUP dog meal bar. Her business took off after an investment and key connections by Daymond John on the ABC-TV show “Shark Tank.” Photo courtesy of PetSmart

Kristina Guerrero gives Odin a TurboPUP dog meal bar. Her business took off after an investment and key connections by Daymond John on the ABC-TV show “Shark Tank.”
Photo courtesy of PetSmart

Dog meal bar business takes off after pitch on national television

Standing in front of a school of sharks, Kristina Guerrero’s life was about to change forever.

In 2015, Kristina’s company, TurboPUP—which makes meal bars for dogs—received a financial boost from “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John.

“It’s something I never planned on doing,” Kristina says of her appearance on the hit television show.

ABC-TV reached out to veteran organizations, including the National Veteran-Owned Businesses Association, looking for veteran business owners and inventors to feature.

Kristina—a former Air Force pilot who lived in La Pine, Oregon, at the time—responded. She asked for an investment of $100,000 for a 20 percent stake in TurboPUP.

During her pitch to five self-made tycoons, Kristina explained that she was backcountry skiing with her dogs when she took a break for lunch and realized her hungry dogs had nothing to eat.

That inspired her to cook up travel-sized dog meals in her kitchen. The bars are interchangeable with regular dog food, packed with all the nutrients needed for one meal. Eventually, Kristina marketed the bars to outdoor recreation retail stores.

After negotiating with the sharks, Kristina accepted $100,000 for a 35 percent stake in her company.

“You go into the tank and leave with a deal and ask yourself, ‘What’s going to happen now?’” says Kristina. “Then one day I’m in the Empire State Building in his (Daymond’s) office and realize this is really happening.”

After joining forces with Daymond, Kristina’s business grew from $20,000 in sales in two years to more than $100,000 in two months.

In January, TurboPUP launched in 900 PetSmart stores nationwide.

“That was really amazing because they did it knowing I was a small business and they did it in full support of that,” says Kristina.

Owning a dog meal bar business was not where Kristina saw her life heading. Her career started at age 17 when she attended the Air Force Academy’s undergraduate pilot training in Pensacola, Florida. She flew C-130s in three deployments—two in Qatar and one in Iraq.

After going into inactive ready reserve in 2010, she earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Pacific University in Hillsboro, Oregon, graduating in 2012. She eventually moved to La Pine, where TurboPUP was born.

Kristina still owns her home in La Pine, but recently relocated with her husband and baby to Vermont to be closer to family and her business partners in New York City.

“Daymond set a deal to license with Fetch4Pets! in February 2015,” says Kristina. “They are a huge player in the pet industry. Once that partnership began, they leveraged their resources to get TurboPUP into the pet industry.”

Kristina says sacrificing 35 percent of her business to partner with Daymond was worth it.

“He has a lot of respect for veterans and female business owners,” says Kristina. “He said to me, ‘You have done so much. You flew three combat tours for our country. I haven’t done anything like that.’ It was this very humbling moment. When you’re a military vet you don’t look at yourself as anything special, but when you get out you’ve done something no one else has.”

Kristina’s life continues to be full of unique experiences as TurboPUP grows.

“I am super excited that the producers at ABC have done such a great job spotlighting the power of veterans,” says Kristina. “I feel like there’s this ​stigma that veterans come back from war as broken people, but our talents easily translate into entrepreneurship. What we learn as soldiers is a great foundation for starting our own businesses.”

For more information about TurboPUP, visit www.turbopup.com.