Fort Worth-based Eosera Inc., a biotech startup, was the winner of the $50,000 North Texas Business Pitch Contest on Thursday.
Comerica Bank and the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) sponsored the event. Three judges helped decide the grand prize winner from a field of four finalists, including Cause Studio of Dallas, Rent Eval of Dallas and Sew Chill, also of Dallas, at a live pitch event hosted at the DEC.
This year’s contest was focused exclusively on women and minority-owned business entrants.
Eosera’s successful final business pitch was delivered by Elyse Dickerson, CEO and co-founder.
Eosera is developing a topical drug to rapidly disintegrate earwax. Accumulation of cerumen or earwax, is caused by failure of the body’s self-cleaning mechanism. Eosera is working on an effective treatment to this condition that will minimize the treatment burden to both doctors and patients. Eosera has completed in-vitro testing and is currently work with the FDA in preparation for in human clinical trials.
Eosera, formed seven months ago by Dickerson and Joe Griffin, is testing formulations and expects to bring its first product to market within 18 months. The company name was inspired from Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn/new beginnings, and Era, time.
“In talking to doctors — geriatricians, pediatricians, audiologists and ENTs — to uncover basic, but important un-met medical needs, impacted ear wax came up over and over again,” said Dickerson in a news release. “We studied the global market and found that there is no product available that is effective at dissolving ear wax. The only real option for patients is to have doctors manually extract the wax, which is very painful, tedious and time consuming.
“Many doctors also believe that wax is the number one reason that hearing aids don’t function properly.”
Dickerson said Eosera has completed in-vitro testing and will use the $50,000 to begin human tests. Its work is done in partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
“TECH Fort Worth has been instrumental in our development. It is a community where we have been able to vet all aspects of our business and make connections with mentors and advisors that will help us grow,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson previously worked with Novartis (Alcon) and for more than 14 years drove product innovation in the ophthalmic and pharmaceutical industries. She is an accomplished marathoner and Ironman triathlete.
She doesn’t think this is her last idea, either.
“Leaving Alcon, I had a lot of ideas…and I still do,” she said.
Some 150 applications were received from local entrepreneurs and startups across North Texas. The top 10 entries were chosen by executives from the DEC, Comerica Bank and The People Fund. The final four contestants were determined by social media voting, which garnered more than 17,000 votes.
The final pitch event on Thursday was held in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week.
“For the second year of this contest, the great number of viable submissions, the ways these start-ups marketed themselves and the amount of social media voting we received were all quite impressive,” said Trey Bowles, co-founder and CEO of the DEC. “The four finalists all did a great job at pitching their business ideas. Our contest injected $50,000 into Eosera at a crucial point in its business, helping push it to the next level in its development.”
Judging the final pitch event at the DEC were Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network and Senior Fellow of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Patricia Kriska, lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University; and Charlie Green, entrepreneur and owner, Olivella’s Neo Pizza Napoletana.
“Comerica Bank is proud to partner with the DEC and to provide the $50,000 unrestricted grant for this great contest,” said Gigi Moore, senior vice president, International Trade Finance, Comerica Bank, and chair of Comerica’s Texas Women’s Forum. “Our hope is that we help draw attention to the significant contributions to the DFW community from women and minority entrepreneurs, including those who participated at our finals event last evening.”