Building a Better Bug Spray | Built on Passion Interview with Ranger Ready® Founder
Ranger Ready Repellents® co-founder and CEO sits down with Built on Passion host, Matt Dello Buono to discuss entrepreneurship and building a better bug spray.
Ranger Ready® makes a highly effective Picaridin 20% Insect Repellent designed to be a much safer and much more effective bug spray. Mosquitos and tick bites aren't something to be taken lightly. Obviously, they can be a pretty big annoyance, but there are some really life changing diseases that you're exposed to when you get bitten. So, how can you actually protect yourself from exposure?
Ranger Ready has been meticulously tested for effectiveness and has a scientific guarantee of offering 12 hours of protection. In this Built on Passion interview, Chris L. Fuentes shares what led him to dedicate himself to creating a better bug spray option, how they managed to stay committed to their mission, developed a devoted team leading to unparalleled customer service and satisfaction, and the how and why behind Ranger Ready Insect Repellents.
Listen to the interview, or read below.
Chris, thanks for joining me today. Who are you and what do you do?
I was born in in the fifties and I grew up in Germany in the sixties and seventies. My dad worked for the U.S. government during the Cold War, so I grew up around the military. So, I have this military background. I've always been fascinated around what military people need for their own safety and own protection. That was one of the geneses of creating Ranger Ready and that's where we've gone to some degree.
Chris Fuentes' father, Jorge Fuentes, who worked for the U.S. Government during the Cold War.
Both my business partner, Ted Kesten, and I wanted to do something that was going to be better for future generations. We raised our family just 50 miles down the road from Old Lyme, CT, the epicenter of Lyme disease in the United States. It's actually where it was discovered.
The epicenter of Lyme disease, Old Lyme, Connecticut. Ranger Ready is based out of Norwalk.
As I raised my family, everybody was getting Lyme disease. Our dogs were getting sick. People were getting sick. Then I got Lyme disease, and I ended up in the hospital in pretty severe shape, and I thought, this is not a good thing. I started to try and understand, what's the problem here.
The problem was, is that the amount of ticks in our population is just expanding so quickly because of climate change. Deer do carry ticks, but it's really any warm-blooded creature outside. So, squirrels and birds. Dogs are tick taxis – or vectors. They carry ticks in and out of the house.
Ranger Ready fans who happen to be dogs. Meet Ruby, the Ranger Ready dog.
How did you develop this as a product? Was it more so taking something that existed and bringing it into the mainstream? Or, did you come up with your own formulations for this?
We actually did both, Matt. People don't like the bug spray in this country. 100 Million people a year use DEET repellent. That's a lot of people. And we couldn't find a lot of people who liked it. We decided, you know what, we can build a better product. And we did.
Illustration of a DEET repellent aerosol spray can. Click here to see what DEET can do to your sunglasses.
In other countries, they use Picaridin bug spray. It's more effective and family friendly (safe for children over one year and to wear during pregnancy) than DEET. It also doesn't corrode your gear, watches, or sunglasses. There was a better ingredient available and that's how we decided to bring it to the United States.
We took an existing ingredient and added to it. If you hate the smell of bug spray, you’re not going to wear it. So, we use premium alcohol and high-end fragrances. If you’re a hunter or just prefer unscented bug spray, we launched Ranger Ready Scent Zero® Repellent.
Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% Insect Repellent. Learn more about Picaridin.
We also decided not to use aerosol cans. Isobutane takes up 20% of an aerosol can and you end up wasting 10% of the repellent. They also end up in landfills. So, we created a 360-degree pump and trigger that sprays upside down. This way, you can apply Ranger Ready to the back of your neck or legs without aerosol.
Picaridin 20% bug repellent acts like pepper. Ticks and mosquitos have receptors, and it's literally just like getting pepper sprayed and they bounce back.
Illustration of a mosquito reacting to Picaridin 20% bug spray. Watch the animation, Why Do Mosquitos Bite and How Do You Stop Them?
When I was doing a bit of my research, I recognized that there's a lot of purpose behind it. It's a purpose driven brand. How did you develop that purpose drive into Ranger Ready Repellents?
We designed Ranger Ready for Uniformed Pros. We know that Rangers are the most trusted authority figures to people. Park Rangers have more credibility about helping you understand how to protect yourself because their goal is to protect the environment and you. So, we're teaching the teachers. That was our first purpose.
Grady Spann - Former Arkansas State Park Director. Click here to learn more about why he partnered with Ranger Ready to keep state park rangers and visitors safe from insect bites.
Our second purpose was, look, we can do things better environmentally. We source everything we can locally. The next part of it is, we believe that climate change is real, and the ticks and mosquitoes are a leading indicator of what's going to happen.
How do you help people understand the difference between standard bug spray on the market and Ranger Ready?
There's a lot of, I think, misinformation around bug spray. The truth is you don't have to get bitten. You can use bug spray without smelling bad, hurting your skin or your gear. You just need to apply repellents properly.
Tiama, from the lifestyle blog, Poor in a Private Plane. Read her featured blog.
The United States is the only market who thinks that more DEET bug spray is better. So, our goal right now is to counter that information on a more public level, each state at a time.
The concept of bug spray isn't necessarily a new one. So, did you have to do a lot of market research to kind of figure out the direction you wanted to take this?
Matt, frankly, all of our really good testing has come by coincidence. The first interesting test was with a United States Corpsman. He went out and bought Ranger Ready Repellents from a drugstore. That Corpsman works for the training center for the Navy SEALs. Our goal was to protect people who had to be outdoors in uniform.
Uniformed Pros Get $10 Every Order on RangerReady.com
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a business?
Surround yourself with people who are good advisors, who give you good advice. You also have to have good customer care - you have to care a lot about your customers. Last, make sure your idea is sound.
The hardest part of an entrepreneur is getting other people to believe your story and we're getting there.
Well, it seems like you've really got people's attention. It's a lifesaver for me personally. I hate mosquitoes. You sold me on it within the first 5 minutes of talking.
Hey Matt, thank you very much for having me on. I really appreciate it.
All right, Chris, thanks for coming on.
Thanks, Matt. Appreciate it. Take care. Be safe.