By Melissa Repko The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Two former colleagues -- a sales and marketing executive and a toxicologist -- left their jobs at an eye product company, to start a new venture called "EarwaxMD." The ear drops dissolve sticky wax that can cause discomfort or hearing trouble.
The Dallas Morning News
For two Fort Worth entrepreneurs, a leap of faith -- and a lab of earwax samples -- is starting to pay off.
Ear drops they developed debuted this month on the shelves of nationwide CVS stores.
Elyse Dickerson and Joe Griffin co-founded Eosera about two years ago. The former colleagues -- a sales and marketing executive and a toxicologist -- left their jobs at Alcon, an eye product company, to start the new venture. Together, they developed EarwaxMD, ear drops that dissolve sticky wax that can cause discomfort or hearing trouble.
The company began selling its drops this spring through Amazon, hearing aid centers and audiologists.
The drops typically sell for about $20. Customers range from kids who frequently wear earbuds to senior citizens who rely on hearing aids.
For the Fort Worth-based company, getting on CVS shelves could bring in more revenue to increase manufacturing, hire more employees and invest in the development and clinical trials for new products.
"This is a huge milestone," said Dickerson, who is Eosera's CEO. "Our investors are really happy. Our team continues to grow. We're excited because we're bringing more jobs to Dallas-Fort Worth and because we're able to sell in large volumes, we're able to build out our pipeline. So it's a win all the way around."
Dickerson approached a buyer at CVS, who reviewed the product and approved shelf space. Eosera and the national pharmacy chain negotiated the terms, which are confidential. Companies typically give retailers a combination of free units and a slotting fee for shelf space.
"The launch into CVS allows us to reach consumers everywhere," she said. "We know earwax is one of those conditions that affects all types of people. It does not discriminate. So being on the shelves at CVS gives everyone access -- and quick access -- to the product."
Ear drops have been rolling out at different stores over the past few weeks. The national pharmacy chain began with an order of about 23,000 units, said Dickerson.
To supply CVS stores, the company will increase production from about 2,000 units per week to 8,000 to 10,000 units per week, Dickerson said.
Starting in October, an Eosera facility in Fort Worth will become the ear drops' primary manufacturer. By running its own manufacturing, Dickerson said, Eosera will have more control and can ramp up production, as needed.
The company recently got a loan to invest in equipment that can make as many as 60 units per minute.
Dickerson said the manufacturing and distribution staff may grow from about six to eight employees to 10 to 15 employees later this year. Eosera has 15 employees, including Dickerson and Griffin.
"Our goal all along has been to grow the Dallas-Fort Worth job market and be able to employ local people," she said.
Eosera will launch its second product in about six months: an earwax rinsing system called Wax Blaster MD, Dickerson said. She said she'd like Eosera to have a whole line of ear-related products that fight pain, dryness, itchiness and more.
Eosera will sell EarwaxMD on Amazon in Canada this fall and has plans to expand sales to Australia and the United Kingdom next, she said.