Chris Koski has a strong sense of social responsibility, and she belongs to a long list of organizations that focus on giving back to the community. She spends her time between Dallas, Sarasota, and Wyoming and loves trying out new things and finding new adventures and hobbies, all with the hope of making the world a better place around her. Chris brings that same passion and caring spirit to her role as CEO of the oral-care probiotics company ProBiora Health, which she founded in 2016. She has a true passion for social service, the products she produces with her company, and the team that she oversees. What’s her favorite part of the job? Watching her customers and employees flourish. “The best part of my job is seeing the benefit we bring to our customers,” she says. “And seeing our team thrive and succeed.”
PRiME is for the ageless generation of women who don’t dress, think, or act like women in previous generations. With that, we try to seek out women who are making a difference in the world around them. Women that are trailblazers in their life or industry, oftentimes breaking the glass ceiling and forging ahead. Women to Watch is an opportunity to recognize some of those women. We’re hoping to learn more about them, their experiences, and any advice or guidance they have for the rest of us Prime Women. Today we spotlight Chris Koski, CEO of ProBiora Health.
Prime Women: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Chris: Not sure I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I come from an entrepreneurial family. My father started a successful company when I was 13. That said, I have always looked at problems as opportunities, have been innately curious about how things work, and like to understand the root of problems. Early in my career, my bosses often wondered at the unusual deals I put together to meet my customer’s needs and bring our company into the business. One actually asked me what I did with the “Box” because I was always thinking outside it.
PW: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Chris: I see myself as an enabler for business ideas. When I got my MBA, I started working with start-up companies on their business models. In the process, I have invested in a number of start-ups. It thrills me to see ideas become a reality and find success.
PW: How did you get interested in Probiotics?
Chris: ProBiora Health oral-care probiotics were actually invented by Dr. Jeffrey Hillman at Oragenics, which is a pharmaceutical development company. I was on the board as the probiotic products were coming to market as a consumer product. This dual set of priorities and allocation of resources was difficult for the Oragenics investors. As an advocate for the product line, this was frustrating. Eventually, I purchased the product line because I believed in what oral-care probiotics could do to help people.
PW: What was the mission at the outset?
Chris: The mission of ProBiora Health has always been to improve the oral health of our users by improving the positive bacterial balance in their oral biome. We have seen amazing results for people who have struggled with their oral care, often for their entire lives. Once you get the oral biome in balance, it is amazing how the mouth recovers.
PW: What is your passion for providing your product for prime women?
Chris: Women are often the individuals who take responsibility for the health of their whole families, including themselves and their pets. Our products can help them do that! Simply by dissolving a mint in your mouth at bedtime or sprinkling a scoop of powder on their pet’s food, they can improve their entire family’s oral health. And since your mouth’s health is related to so many other systemic health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, the long-term impact of good oral health is tremendous.
PW: What is unique about your business?
Chris: Everyone is aware of gut probiotics, but most don’t realize that each probiotic strain has a “natural home” or biome. Gut probiotics “live” in your digestive tract. Our patented blend of oral-care probiotics is unique to the mouth, where they “live” in your gum line, on the surface of your teeth, and on your tongue.
PW: What advice do you have for older women who are just starting businesses?
Chris: If you have passion for an issue or for solving a problem and have a solution that you believe will be economically viable, go for it. Get some help in areas where you may not have experience, like manufacturing or accounting, and develop a strong message that will help you communicate your solution. After these steps, you are on your way. Getting some outside investment can be tough, but start with your friends and family and see if they would support the concept. Often you can bootstrap from there.
PW: What’s one characteristic of a leader?
Chris: The ability to hold a paradox – meaning that two seemingly opposite thoughts can both be true. To be a leader, you have to be compassionate and tough; you have to spend money to make money; you have to keep track of the details without losing sight of the big picture, and you have to motivate and be patient. It’s a lot like being a good parent, but on a corporate level.
PW: What are some of the mistakes you wished you could have avoided?
Chris: When you believe in something strongly, you tend to be more optimistic that everyone will get on board more quickly than they often do. Taking this into account would have made planning the investment requirements smoother and less stressful.
PW: What is the main thing you want others to know?
Chris: You may not know it, but there is a battle going on in your mouth between the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath and the positive bacteria that keep them at bay. ProBiora Health products can help you win this battle by dissolving a mint in your mouth at bedtime, releasing millions of good bacteria to drive out the bad guys.
Chris had some great insight into many aspects of our lives. If you’ve been considering starting a business, you should heed her advice about how to start and proceed through the process. It’s also intriguing and motivating to see how a business that faced initial doubt has turned into a thriving company that was built on a passion for the product and hard work.
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