Walking into Tomlinson’s with a box full of his product, Pupsicool, a woman stops junior Nico Canosa, thrilled her dog’s favorite treat is being restocked.
Being part of the company Pupsicool and streaming his own podcast called “The Austinite Entrepreneur,” Nico already has a head start on his future in entrepreneurship.
“For me it’s a little bit of defying the odds, people saying a kid my age can’t run a business or that I have to go to college to be successful,” he said. “But it’s also because I’ve felt what it’s like to receive help from experienced and caring people and I want to be that for someone or multiple people in the future.”
Nico attended Camp Entrepreneur that specializes in teaching budding entrepreneurs how to take their ideas and execute them by providing important knowledge, tools, and resources that lead to a higher probability of success. Nico has also been able to come in contact with Mitchell Johnston, the founder of Camp Entrepreneur, one of his life mentors.
“Me and Nico connected over coffee shortly after and the rest is history,” Johnston said. “Nico is unlike any 16-year-old I know. Nico has stepped into a more prominent role at Pupsicool taking on more responsibility. He’s become an immediate asset by being an action-oriented problem solver. This is also represented through the recent launch of ‘The Austinite Entrepreneur.’”
Canosa joined Pupsicool a year and a half ago when it was just a tiny startup by a woman named Julie Brewer. When he joined he began working on the packaging and manufacturing and has recently become Chief Operating Officer.
“I handle everything from our marketing side, to distribution, to fulfillment and just product management in general,” Canosa said. “I also handle the social media side, expansion of customers, and finding important events to get our name out there.”
Having a business like Pupsicool means difficulties and failures. Canosa has already faced failure, but continues on with a positive mindset.
“I don’t like to say failures because there’s a solution to everything to every problem,” he said. “I think the biggest obstacle with Pupsicool is we are a very unique product in the sense that we use deer meat and deer jerky that is a very hard source for year round consistency because there is a deer season and people stop stop hunting for deer.”
The dog popsicles have expanded into one Dallas pet store and can also be found at different stores and markets. The closest location to find Pupsicool in Austin is the Tomlinson’s at Four Points.
“Tomlinsons’ loves carrying local products in their stores,” Four Points store manager Roselle Williams said. “A lot of people nowadays really like to shop local and by carrying a local product, we are not only supporting our community but we also know where the product is coming from and believe it is fresher than a product that has been shipped from miles away.”
Canosa’s podcast focuses on Austin based entrepreneurs and their stories. In the podcasts episodes, Canosa brings in a wide variety of executives, CEOs and new founders from local businesses.
“I started listening to other people’s podcasts and I even met a few people from Austin through those podcasts,” Canosa said. “I didn’t see anything that was touching on entrepreneurs, specifically in the city of Austin so I think the podcast is a great opportunity for smaller to medium sized business people.”
Having a business, podcast and still being a junior in high school has taught Canosa how important time management and being an active listener in class is. It’s very easy for Canosa to focus more on his business than school, so surrounding him with the right people pushes him to equalize both.
“It’s very hard, I won’t lie,” he said. “It’s super hard to have a full time job on top of school. I always tell people my nine to five is school and then I have another nine to five right after school. I don’t have time for a tutor, I just have to get it right the first time. A big part of that is surrounding myself with the right people to keep me on task with school.”
Canosa doesn’t know what the future has in store for Pupsicool, or “The Austinite Entrepreneur,” but said he is taking one day at a time.
“You don’t know how to do it until you do it,” Canosa said. “I knew I was doing the right thing while pursuing my passion, but was just stressing about how entrepreneurs aren’t naturally known of everything. So you just kind of go with the flow and learn as you go. That’s what I’m doing.”
This story was originally published on Vandegrift Voice on February 28, 2020.