V-WISE graduate Kristina Guerrero wins $100,000 investment on ABC’s Shark Tank

TurboPUP CEO to partner with FUBU founder Daymond John to grow dog food company

Shark TankOn January 16, veteran entrepreneur Kristina Guerrero, a 2012 graduate of the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) training program, appeared before the investor judges of ABC’s hit entrepreneurship show Shark Tank to seek investment and mentorship for her dog food company, TurboPUP

Accompanied by Odin, one of her “PUPs,” Guerrero pitched the “sharks” on her unique on-the-go Complete K9 Meal Bars for dogs, which they took turns feeding to Odin. Guerrero had to overcome several challenges during her pitch, including the sharks’ lack of knowledge of the high-end dog food industry. But they listened. Questioned her earnings. Evaluated her background. At the end of her segment, thanks to the sharks’ respect for credentials as a decorated veteran, Guerrero shook hands with FUBU founder Daymond John and agreed to sell him 35% of her young company in exchange for a $100,000 investment and his professional mentoring support. 

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) congratulates Guerrero on her success as an entrepreneur and her achievement on Shark Tank. Last night’s TV appearance, which was watched live at the V-WISE New Orleans conference by nearly 200 women veterans and military spouses, is an inspiration to the thousands of other veteran entrepreneurs who take part in V-WISE and other IVMF entrepreneurship training programs. 

“I never set out with an intention to appear on Shark Tank,” said Guerrero. “I just wanted to build a successful business. When I found out the show was looking for veterans, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Getting selected was so surreal; I had to take it one step at a time. It truly was an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. I consider myself profoundly blessed to have had such a rare opportunity.” 

Guerrero, a former U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot who flew in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, attended the V-WISE conference in San Diego, CA in August 2012 to learn additional business skills to help get TurboPUP off of the ground. Last year, she won the $25,000 grand prize in the Citi Salutes ‘Realizing Your Dream’ business plan competition, open to IVMF program graduates. 

“We are proud of Kristina for her entrepreneurial success and experience on Shark Tank. We’re very excited to see our graduates like Kristina creating successful ventures like TurboPUP. Her success speaks volumes to the entrepreneurial talents of our nation’s veterans and military spouses. IVMF is honored to be able to support and train business owners like Kristina through our programs,” said James Schmeling, IVMF co-founder and managing director. 

V-WISE is the nation’s leading entrepreneurship training program for women veterans, active duty service women and military spouses and is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). During the three-phase program, V-WISE attendees learn the basics of starting a business and receive guidance of successful business owners, leadership consultants, educators, veterans and other experts. This weekend’s V-WISE New Orleans conference is made possible through the sponsorship of JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

Read more about Guerrero’s journey in The Washington Post and her blog post for IVMF’s Voices site. For more information about V-WISE and other IVMF programs, or to apply, visit www.vets.syr.edu

Contact Brian Wagner (bwagner@scoutcommsusa.com, 202-596-6102) for more information.

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University 

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about the IVMF at http://vets.syr.edu.