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North Texas Entrepreneur Pays It Forward to Help Other Women Succeed

Winning $50k in a pitch competition validated the ear care company Elyse Dickerson founded in 2015

NBC Universal, Inc.

For women who want to start a business, Texas is a top ten spot.

A company that supports small businesses compiled data from the U.S. Census Bureau and ranked the best states for women-owned startups. The Lone Star State came in fifth in the ranking from Merchant Maverick, a slight drop from the third spot in 2022 but still a solid showing.

Even with a business-friendly mindset, taking a business from idea to profits can be daunting.

"We were self funding. My business partner and I were spending our savings," said biotech company owner Elyse Dickerson about the early days when she launched her ear care company. "We make it look easy, I think, from the outside but on the inside we're constantly worried about cash flow, about our employee base, taking care of your employees, making sure we're making every shipment on time."

Dickerson and her partner Joe Griffin founded Eosera in 2015.

They'd left their corporate jobs in the pharmaceutical industry; wanted to stay in the healthcare market and in conversations with doctors, heard a need.

"Nobody was paying attention to the ear," she said. "So we thought, there's a lot of conditions that could be treated at home if products existed."

The two researched to find just the right product and zeroed on the buildup of earwax. They developed Earwax, MD.

"As you age, the wax starts to build up in the ear canal and our product dissolves that down in about 15 minutes," she explained.

Eosera had its product but needed funding. So, Dickerson decided to get others to invest.

"The very first thing that got us off the ground was winning a pitch competition," she said. "And it was $50,000 cash and that really was the start of Eosera."

Dickerson kept telling the story of EarwaxMD and using a slide that showed how her product compared to others. In three months of pitching, she'd raised $1.2 million.

"You know I was selling a dream," she said. "And it's all about building a story of what this vision is and then going out and pitching it to people that want to be part of that vision with you."

Dickerson wants other women to fulfil their entrepreneurial dreams. Last year, her company hosted the inaugural EmpowHERment Business Pitch Comptetion to fund a woman-owned business in Texas.

Forty women applied, and $10,000 went to the winner.

Dickerson is planning year two of the competition with a bigger prize. This year, the winner will get $50,000.

"I'm a big believer in bringing other women along because it is still tough for women out there. The majority of funding goes to men," she said.

The prize amount is significant because that number was her validation years ago.

"It was the first time someone from the outside said, 'We believe in you. Here's $50,000. Go make your dream happen,'" she said.

Pitching is an art Dickerson mastered early to fund her biotech business and she offers this advice to other women.

"I'm not asking for charity," she said. "I'm providing that potential investor an opportunity to be part of this journey. And that simple mind shift helps especially women who ask for money because you have to ask. So many of us think they'll just notice we're doing something great. No, you have to go out and sell the story, truly believe in it, and then ask for the money."

Dickerson never saw herself as a CEO or running a company with day to day pressures.

Yet here she is: eight years in, 35 employees, 10 products in 28,000 stores helping millions of people, and expansion and encouraging other women to take that leap, too.

"Just do it," she said. "Just do it. It is so scary and terrifying. And that's normal. But put one foot in front of another and just go do it."

Applications for the 2nd annual EmpowHERment Business Pitch Competition open in August.

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