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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Getting a product to market: Q&A with Elyse Dickerson and Joe Griffin of Eosera

Named after the Greek goddess of dawn and the word time, Eosera Inc. represents a time for new beginnings for the co-founders and focuses on healing humans.

The co-founders of the Fort Worth-based company are CEO Elyse Dickerson and Joe Griffin, chief scientific officer, and while Griffin says his skills are on the scientific side, Dickerson’s skills are in commercialization and marketing.

Eosera is the biotechnology company that created Earwax MD, an earwax dissolvent product that the news release said was sold out on Amazon Exclusives in the first month after it was released in May. During the development process, they worked with groups such as TMAC (Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center) and TECH Fort Worth. They both took time to talk with The Fort Worth Business Press about creating the product.

Why Earwax MD?

Dickerson: The first two months, all we did … was talk to people and we would just set meetings with all types of doctors, all types of patients, and it was really just us listening. With every doctor, especially, we would ask, “Okay, so what are some conditions that you see on a regular basis that you think are not being met or that could be treated more efficiently or effectively?” And surprisingly, earwax impaction rose to the top. …

After we kept hearing this over and over, we went back to the medical literature and started reading about it and trying to understand more about it and what we realized was, it’s not a real what I’d call sexy or exciting topic and so I think big pharmaceutical companies have sort of just [said], “It’s not cancer, it’s not life threatening,” so they’ve kind of stayed away from it, but it is something that our health care systems spend a tremendous amount of money on trying to remedy the problem.

What is your relationship with TECH Fort Worth?

Dickerson: We had a few friends tell us about this incubator and it sits right at the corner of Rosedale and I-35 in a city-owned building and the city really supports this mission of entrepreneurship and growing small businesses in Fort Worth to help the economy. TECH Fort Worth has one of three buildings and they have clients then that are startup companies and you essentially apply to be part of the program and so we office here. We have access to really incredible mentorship on a weekly basis.

TECH Fort Worth has a partnership with UNT Health Science Center and we were able to use their shared lab space, which as a startup there’s no way we could have afforded to build our own lab or even really pay retail price for renting a real lab so we got a significantly discounted rate. … We were at UNT Health Science Center pretty much every day for the first year in their lab developing our product and we would never have had that access if not for TECH Fort Worth and their partnerships they created.

What was the process for working with TMAC?

Griffin: TMAC was recommended to us and we were introduced to them through TECH Fort Worth. We had an initial meeting with the TMAC team and we basically had a little interview and meeting with them to find out what services they provided and what services we needed.

Then we got kind of assigned to, initially, a couple of the different TMAC departments, one related to quality, understanding quality systems and how the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and other regulatory agencies look at product development … one was related to design of products and design of packaging. …

As we continued to develop our product and as we continued to refine our target product, we ended up working almost exclusively with one of the departments at TMAC that helped us, again, complete the quality program. …

It wasn’t a static time and we’re still working with TMAC really weekly… and as we begin the development of our next product we’re fully hoping that we can continue the relationship in a similar manner.

Why did the company choose both in-house and third-party manufacturing?

Dickerson: We could save on the cost by doing it ourselves. Really the emphasis behind us taking it on was one of our key advisors who is the director of TECH Fort Worth, Darlene Boudreaux. She ran a contract manufacturing company for her entire career and then sold that business and as one of our mentors she sort of sat us down and said, “Look you guys. You can do this.”

We decided to sort of step our toe into it and now we’ve taken on more of the production ourselves. It really was driven by cost, that we could do it more efficiently and have a tighter control over the finished goods.

Why was the product launched with Amazon first?

Dickerson: I had a goal of really wanting to have a controlled launch mainly because we were new to this, to running the business ourselves.

We both had come from the pharmaceutical industry but we also had huge divisions that did the manufacturing and the distribution. We had all these support networks that we didn’t have to worry about all those kinds of things.

When it was really just me and Joe, we decided that let’s launch small and controlled so if there are any issues we can pivot quickly and test and learn, if you will. And so, launching on Amazon really gave us a lot of control. …

And we learned. We had some product that was leaking in our first shipment that we had to pull back and we ended up changing the bottle and the cap. We also ended up changing the label … because it wasn’t holding up the way we thought that it should. Little things like that. We were able to pivot really quickly based on just a few hundred units out into the market. So that was really the reason we launched on Amazon.

How is the company holding to conscious capitalism?

Dickerson: The philosophy is that you have a higher purpose over profit and that purpose can vary depending on the type of company you have.

But for us, for example, we put people before profits and the belief is that if you have something, a bigger reason for being, that the profits will follow. …

When we decided to start our company, the foundation of our company is healing humans and that’s really in a broader sense. Yes, we want our medications or our products that we bring to market to physically heal people, but we also want to provide a work environment where our employees feel valued and encouraged and have opportunities to grow in their career.

Our investors feel like we have their best interest at heart and that we’re open, too. It’s a two-way street. We’re open to listening from them and learning from them just as much as they are from us.

Then the patient, really listening to the patient and the doctor and understanding what are unmet medical needs out there that we could potentially address in the future.

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