Chris Moss, DMSB'17, took the unconventional route to success, one that involves toilet plungers, venture setbacks, and a dream for something more.

During his sophomore year at Northeastern University, Moss was forced to close his first venture, a t-shirt business, after his partner's spending habits drove it to bankruptcy. Starting fresh, Moss was late to the co-op application and decision game, and found himself driving to New York in search of placement at a company called Atrium.

“I sat through four hours of interviews, but it turned out to be a recruiting firm, and I knew pretty quickly that I didn't want to work there,” said Moss. “That's when a man walked into the conference room without introducing himself and struck up a conversation. It wasn't an interview—we just talked about all kinds of random things.”

The man he met was Adrian “Wildman” Cenni, a successful businessman in search of a personal assistant.

“He told me that if he was on an important phone call and the toilet needed plunging, I'd have to do that, too,” says Moss. “So after the interview, I went out and bought a plunger, taped my resumé around it, and brought it to his assistant.”

Moss got the job. In addition to small tasks, he managed three business ventures for his boss and spoke with him daily, gaining experience and first-hand advice. Five months into the co-op Cenni asked Moss for his help developing a new healthy sport drink, and promised him equity and a leadership position if he succeeded.

Moss decided to stay in New York and pursue the drink, completing his Northeastern degree through online classes. As CEO of Basic Water, Moss launched Phit in September, a squirt additive that reduces the acid level in drinks.

“Chris embodies what we want our students to learn,” said his co-op coordinator, Esther Chewning. “No experience is going to be perfect; nothing is going to go exactly as you planned. But resilient people will pick themselves up and learn in the process—even when it doesn't work out.”

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