Chris Nero grew up in the small farm town of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was an active child, participating in a variety of sports during his school years, including basketball, football, baseball, and track. He spent several summers with an uncle in the Marines, who provided him with the opportunity to travel to many places.
One hot day after watching a dog refuse to drink water out of a Styrofoam cup at a cafe, Chris Nero came up with the idea for ThirstyPet Pet Water, a revolutionary product for the pet owner on the go. His company produces recyclable plastic bowls full of clean, safe water that protects your pets from any chemicals and waterborne pathogens found in puddles, pond water, hose water, bottled water, and more.
With his artistic and outgoing personality, Chris Nero participated in theater growing up, and he enjoyed singing and writing songs and poetry. After 9-11, he created a CD in honor of America’s Troops. This father of seven still sings recreationally, and he plans to return to the studio soon. He continues to enjoy playing basketball, working out at the gym, and writing.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you?
I was at a meeting in a coffee shop one day in the summer. There was a group of older women nearby, and I noticed one woman had a big purse. While I was speaking at my meeting, I saw a cute little doggy face pop out of the purse. She asked the waitress for some water, and the waitress returned with a Styrofoam cup of water. As she ripped down the edges of the cup, I remember thinking about all of the chemicals in Styrofoam. Long story short, the dog didn’t drink the water in the cup, and the owner got upset and left the cafe.
Later on, when I went to the grocery store, it was still stuck on my mind. I thought, “how hard could it be to solve that problem? To put water in a bowl?” Very hard, I later found out. Back then, I was only thinking about the smaller size pets, like the dog that fit in the woman’s purse. When I went to get orange juice, I passed by the little Chobani yogurts, and I thought it would be a great idea if we put some water in there instead.
My ultimate goal in life is to make decisions that will change the world in some fraction. I honestly believe that one man can make a difference, but you have to have a great team of people who can support you along the way.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I never doubted it would work, even from the beginning. If you look at the system of water, every living and breathing organism, amoeba, and parasite needs water.
Today, millennials love their pets like their children. You can’t drive down the street without seeing people with their pets in their cars. When you’re out on the move, in the heat, and you have your pet in your vehicle, it’s very typical to get waterborne pathogens. It’s not like back in the day when you would grab a bottle of Avion water and pour it into a Tupperware for your dog. Avion water isn’t pet-friendly. If you do your diligence and look into these pet shows, they don’t give their pets bottled water; it’ll make them sick and quite possibly kill them. That’s why the only thing climbing higher than the food industry at close to $60 million in the U.S. is the veterinarian health industry. Bottled water is easier. It’s a convenience. We all grew up with bottled water.
How did you get your first customer?
My ThirstyPet products are not for sale quite yet but I have done some trial runs in the Tucson area and have received some very positive reception from people around the city. They seemed really excited about the product and asked me to update them when the product was available for purchase.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
My product isn’t out yet, but when I take my terrier out for walks, I will bring a ThirstyPet bowl with me. When I take it out and open it up, everyone nearby gathers around. They’re stunned. They’ve never seen such a product, and they want it. Some of them shake my hand and say, “Wow, let me shake your hand. You’re going to be living among the rich.” It’s great to see that reception.
I also have more of an educational campaign going through Facebook and Instagram.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Sometimes when you’re going at a pace that is beyond comprehension for some people, you have this tank mentality, and you’re moving forward at all costs. The toughest decision I’ve had to make recently was to stop, slow down, and reflect. Sometimes you can get so much momentum and energy that you may not be thinking clearly. You have to be able to stop yourself and think about where you’re putting your energy. Ask yourself, “Am I just doing things to do it?”
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
What makes me successful is that I believe in myself, and I believe in the people that are around me because I have selected the best possible people to be around me. My family makes me successful. My wife supports me; she and my children believe in me. And I don’t think people should start something that they don’t believe in because then they’re just wasting their time. So what makes me successful is my drive and my belief in myself and my product.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
So far, my most satisfying moment was when we created the four different sized bowls and sealed them up with water. I’m confident there will be many more moments to come.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future of my business is very, very bright. ThirstyPet will be giant. It will be name brand. It will be the most prominent product anyone has ever seen in the pet industry, and it’ll probably be licensed out to several companies. As far as the future goes, the sky’s the limit.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
I dabble in real estate. I purchase homes, and those pay the bills. This allows me to continue to provide for my family while I pursue ThirstyPet.
What is the best thing about your current job?
The best thing about my job is it’s not a job, and I love what I’m doing. It gives me the freedom to do what I want, how I want, when I want, where I want, and to spend as much time as I can with my wife and my children.