'Female Viagra' Founder Exits for $1 Billion and Gets Company Back for Free

May 02, 2019

Cindy Eckert (formally Whitehead) is the founder of a Sprout the first pharmaceutical company to develop Addyi, the first female Viagra. In the mid-2010s, Cindy sold her company to a bigger pharmaceutical company but soon found she made a mistake.

The program Pinkbator is searching for women entrepreneurs wanting to improve the lives of women and the world in general. Cindy is very passionate about her mission and the company she built. She takes me on the journey of Slate (her first pharmaceutical company), Sprout, and finally The Pink Ceiling, She tells me about her billion dollar exit and how her purchaser disappointed her in the end.

Cindy was so disappointed by her company’s “adopted parents” that she sued for the right to take the company back. I ask her how she managed it and she credits creative deal structuring and a great legal team. She won the case and built The Pink Ceiling, a business incubator that is dedicated to empowering, educating, and giving women entrepreneurs a chance to grab capital opportunities.

What you will learn:

  • Why Cindy became an entrepreneur
  • Why she gravitated to pharmaceuticals
  • Cindy’s fascination with women’s sexual health and why it is important.
  • The beginning of Slate and how it led to Sprout.
  • How to “Be the Workhorse.”
  • The qualities Cindy looks for in her team.
  • The danger of having the wrong partner and being selective about investors.
  • Why you should be accountable to investors.
  • The benefits of an awesome legal team.
  • The stipulations Cindy included in her sale agreement when she sold Sprout.
  • How those stipulations helped her win the company back in court.
  • The Pink Ceiling and Cindy’s view of the future.

Takeaways:

You need to know what you are passionate about and what you want your company to be. Then you need to align your passion and vision with your investors, employees, and eventually potential buyers. Maintaining this alignment makes all the difference with whether you will be pleased with a sale or not.

Links and Resources:

GEXP Collaborative
The Pink Ceiling

About Cindy:

A self-made serial entrepreneur and vocal advocate for women, Cindy Whitehead-Eckert defies convention. In her industry, in her companies, in her outcomes. Her work today in The Pink Ceiling/Pinkubator continues to break barriers by investing in and mentoring other women to get to her same outcomes. She’s on a mission to make women really rich. You cannot miss Cindy. Everything she touches turns to pink.

Over a distinguished 24-year career in healthcare, in only the last 10 she has started and sold two businesses for more than $1.5B. First Slate Pharmaceuticals, which redefined long-acting testosterone treatment for men then Sprout Pharmaceuticals which broke through with the first ever FDA-approved drug for low sexual desire in women — dubbed “female Viagra” by the media. After selling the company for $1B in 2015, she successfully fought to get the drug back and launch it on her own terms.

Cindy has made waves, and made her own success, creating mission-driven companies that deliver big. Her results have become a widely covered business success story featured in major media outlets. She is most proud of helping others take command. The profoundly positive impact those companies have made in people’s lives is what keeps her coming back for more.

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