The struggle and the jabs.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Did you know?

In 2010, there were 26 male enhancement drugs against 0 for women. So much for the women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder(10% of all women).

Cindy Eckert is a highly regarded entrepreneur, a pharmaceutical leader, and a strong female rights advocate. She is one of the very few self-made female billionaires.

Check out the groundbreaking interview at the end.

Fathom this:

The New York Times termed her product the “drug of a generation,” and Fortune mentions her as a “tireless force of nature.”

That’s some introduction and someone who is a force to reckon with. Unapologetically Pink- Cindy Eckert.

A celebrated 22-year career in healthcare, she started and sold two businesses for more than $1.5 billion. She co-founded and then sold Slate Pharmaceuticals, which redefined long lasting testosterone treatment for men, and launched Sprout Pharmaceuticals immediately.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals burst on to the scene with the first-ever FDA-approved drug for low sexual desire in women — named “female Viagra” by the media. Cindy sold the company for $1b in cash in 2015.

Cindy’s mission is to mentor, invest in, launch, and build other women-led or centric businesses. She is the CEO of “ The Pink Ceiling”- a cross between a VC firm, a ‘pinkubator’, and a consulting enterprise.

The story

Cindy Eckert, just like any other college going student thought traditionally to get a job once the college is finished and work her way up.

She realized something important: There was nothing new in the corporate work culture.

She decided to quit and do something about it. She went on to start Sprout, which eventually grew and pushed the FDA to approve “Addyi”, a controversial drug for enhancing women libidos.

Post the FDA approval in 2015, she sold the company to Valeant Pharmaceuticals for $1 billion. That’s when everything started to fall apart. The buyer Valeant Pharmaceuticals was accused and guilty of jacking up the prices of its drugs, doubling the cost of Addyi, the libido-enhancing pill. As per experts, the price hike was the main reason for Addyi not getting the traction it deserved.

Two years after layoffs of her original team, Eckert bought Sprout back from Valeant and managed to rehire most of her former employees.

The story is a straight movie topic — you build a company, grow it, sell it, and then get it back( without paying a dime ).

The struggle and the jabs

Ok, so enough of the bucks. Back to the grind and brass tacks. Every success story is backed by some serious slog that someone undergoes for the glory.

The exciting drug for women was on the verge of a breakthrough but hit the roadblock due to pending FDA approval. As a result, the participating women in the trial who had their life transformed had to give back the drug.

Cindy sells Slate, co-incidentally the parent company for male libido enhancement drugs. The very next day she co-founded Sprout Pharmaceuticals and purchased the female drug from the company which was set to suspend the drug. How’s that for an opportunity?

Here comes the magic drug “Addyi” which then goes to trial for approvals. Technically, for drug approval, a thousand patients’ testing is required. Guess what? Addyi had eleven thousand. Easy going huh. Nope, still no approval by the FDA.

Cindy started public campaigns by having a conversation with women activists groups. Empathy changed the game and they got their approvals.

For a larger reach, the company sold at $1 Billion to Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

A success story and the brass tacks

The room above the garage and 3 desks

Ok, so this is boring and typical of a startup you may say. That’s ok. The critical part of success is humble beginnings and you can relate it with your life. Did you start anything new with a hefty budget and lavish style? Probably no.

Pull the lesson, your room and desks can change.

Principles were written on the toilet paper

I know the thought. Oh, well some made-up story and all.

I need you to focus on the principles, sans the toilet paper.

Cindy vouched for a shared and inspiring environment for employees. Her vision was to get the best out of successful people who are also inspired by the working culture. She wanted to merge both and see what happens.

Defining responsibility

The idea was to make everybody accountable and responsible as if they run their product. It was like “skin in the game”. The integral part of the strategy was to make people feel the company their own and being responsible for the actions and outcomes.

Hence, employees were offered stock options to knit their success stories with the company’s growth.

Transparency or being an open book

A crucial cog to the wheel. People have job roles but the company focused on the job description and its impact on growth. It’s like discussing how a line manager or a chief manager is having a direct impact on what he does. Daily job description became a part of the company ethos. It meant daily discussions on the company’s growth without sugarcoating the truth.

Creating cross-functional experience

Focus on bridging the gap between different teams. The idea was to create synergy between different teams by reducing the knowledge gap between different verticals. Often you find a sales guy questioning an operation guy or vice versa about they don’t understand what role does a specific team or person plays, creating a disconnect. The company wanted to do away with this.

The Cindy Way

To sum up, her tips for success goes like this.

Culture: Creating a better culture and involving everyone. It may be bonuses or stock options based on the success of the company. The aim is to create shared ownership tending the interest of all.

Honesty: Constant communication and fact check. Presenting things as they are.

What a Good Pitch Needs: Since she pitched her company to investors, she figured three things the founder should know:

  • What are you trying to do uniquely?
  • Why are you the one to do it?
  • What the investors get if they are on board?

If you are obsessive about the value you are gonna create, somebody at some point is gonna take that value- Cindy Eckert

Story Source

Haber, M. (2020, September 22). 3 Success Tips From The $1 BN ‘Female Viagra’ CEO. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/matt-haber/cindy-eckert-addyi-sprout.html