TurboPUP, K9 meal bars, entered the Shark Tank on January 16.
Heavy interviewed Kristina Guerrero about her company. Here are the details on her dog treats, her military career and her dog, Dunkan who appeared with her on the show.
1. The Bars Have 28 Grams of Protein
The bars, which come in such flavors as bacon and peanut butter, use a 93% pure protein isolate as an ingredient. The amino acids in the product help build up the dog’s immune system.
Guerrero explained her ingredient choice by saying:
I needed it to be safe on my dogs’ stomach, so they could transition from their dog food to the bars and back. I created a limited ingredient, grain-free, formula with highly digestible ingredients and a full nutritional profile.
2. Being in the Air Force Made Kristina Efficient
From 1998 to 2002, she attended the United States Air Force Academy, and upon graduation, flew C-130s. During her time in service, she was awarded two Combat Air Medals for missions flown in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Horn of Africa. After being deployed three times, she took a hiatus from her military career in 2010.
She credits the discipline of the army for her success in business. “Being at the Air Force Academy, we have an inordinate amount of demands of our time- military drills and exercises, athletics and semester loads of at least 18 credit hours, so I learned how to be really efficient with my time,” she said.
In addition, her experience with flying planes taught her about teamwork. “Flying the C-130 and working with a crew, taught me how to have a goal and then execute it in a productive way, while working with a team.”
In fact, her appearance on Shark Tank came about because of her veteran status. “One day, I got about six emails forwarded to me with the subject ‘SHARK TANK IS LOOKING FOR VETERAN ENTREPRENEURS.’ I took it as a sign and figured I’d give it a whirl,” she said.
3. Her Husband Initially Helped in Making the Product
Guerrero’s husband, Brandon Sylvester, was a food scientist at Dannon, so he assisted in the first creation.
When asked what the pros and cons are to working with her husband, she noted, “I know he’ll help me out even though I can’t pay him” was one positive aspect.
However, the business took its toll, which caused the couple to take a step back and shift priorities. “It actually was a bad idea and it put our marriage through the ringer. We put our marriage as a first priority, and now he plays a support role in the business and works full time as a brewer,” she said.
Now, the mini meals are mass produced.
4. It’s Important To Her That the Bars Be Made in the U.S.
All ingredients for the bars are sourced in the United States.
When asked why it was important for her products to be made in America, she said:
First, because I’m a Veteran and no matter what’s going on, I believe in supporting my country. Second, because there is some sketchy stuff being imported into the United States that led to thousands of recalls and pet deaths. I care way too much about my dog to take any chances.
In June of 2014, TurboPUP became the official dog food of the National Association for Search & Rescue.
5. She Rescued a Dog Who Was the Inspiration for the Company
Her dog, Dunkan, a rescue dog, quickly became an integral part of her life. She explained her independent beginnings, saying, “I left home when I was 17 under some pretty turbulent circumstances. I ironically joined the Air Force Academy as a means to independence, but I was totally untethered.”
Therefore, adopting a dog gave her a sense of family. “When I adopted Dunkan after my second deployment in 2006, he became my sidekick and suddenly I was responsible for him,” she said. It was Dunkan who inspired her to create the treats, since she was on a backcountry trip with him when she realized the lack of to-go canine food available.