Have you heard of the latest video trend on TikTok? The one with 8.4 billion viewers listening? It is the removal of earwax. It’s true – viewers are logging on to TikTok, YouTube and other platforms to watch the oddly satisfying process of removing earwax from the ear canals. This video alone has nearly 2.9 million views!

We all have earwax, yet it remains one of those taboo subjects that no one likes to talk about. However, this may change. Hearing care has taken center stage with the recent FDA decision making hearing aids available over-the-counter, without a prescription, and for thousands of dollars less than before. And new, innovative products for home wax removal are now available. Ear care is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Innovate in a niche market

“We are taught to take care of our skin and our nails,” said Elyse Dickerson. “But we are not taught at a young age how to take care of our ears.” The co-founder and CEO of Eosera, a women-led brand committed to addressing an unmet need in ear health, has spent 13 years in the over-the-counter healthcare industry before diversifying to solve an important, but often unspoken, need in a niche market. Earwax removal.

“I spent the first few months talking to doctors. I let doctors – pediatricians, geriatricians, general practitioners – tell me where their greatest needs were. They said, “If you had a product that allowed people to clean their ears at home, you would be a game changer.” So we started doing it. »

After nine months of collecting human earwax samples from doctors and testing various formulations, she struck gold in 2017 and launched Earwax MD, the first significant innovation in the ear care industry in 60 years. Liquid drops, which stay in the ear canal for 15 minutes and dissolve wax, replace goopy OTC gels and in-office procedures that until now had been the only solution for impacted earwax — which can lead to impairment important hearing in people of all ages.

“Our first retailer was CVS,” Dickerson said. “They immediately put it in all 8,000 stores because the hearing care shopper hadn’t seen innovation in this category for so long. We didn’t have any final packaging or subcontractors, but as any contractor will tell you, if you get this order, you’ll get it done. So the start-up made 80,000 units in its first run and shipped them to CVS stores. “In one year, the hearing care buyer had increased their category by 35% with our product alone.”

Profitable after its first year, Eosera now sells a line of hearing care products at 28,000 retailers, including Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, Amazon, Albertsons and Kroger. The company expects 2022 sales to increase by more than 200%.

Dickerson shares tips on how she built a successful brand in a real niche market.

Try your luck.

Dickerson recommends looking at every turning point in your career as an opportunity. “I was fired from my job. I didn’t choose to walk away from a big, cushy corporate job. I was kicked out of the nest which was devastating at first but ended up being the greatest gift as it gave me the opportunity to try my luck.

You don’t have to know everything.

Dickerson was neither an ear care specialist nor a scientist. She just asked lots of questions until she found a great unmet need. “As a CEO or founder, you just have to be prepared to ask the right questions,” she says.

Find the right combination of opportunity and product.

“We found a completely untapped market,” she says. But that wouldn’t have been compelling to its investors if they hadn’t developed a product that effectively addressed the unmet need in that market. “If you can find the right combination of opportunity and product, the money will follow.”

Spend your business money as if it were your own.

The main reason businesses fail is because they’re short on money, says Dickerson. “I wasn’t throwing parties for our employees – I was spending our company’s money like it was my own and I think the investors really appreciated that.”

Surround yourself with smart people who have skills you lack.

“When I was fundraising, I looked for people who live and breathe the world of private equity who could advise me on how to fundraise,” she said. This also goes for the more mundane aspects of startups, like accounting. “It’s important to take the time in the first few days to set things up properly. If you rush too quickly without the right knowledge or guidance, you will fall flat on your stomach.

Practice conscious capitalism.

“You can make money, but you can do it in a positive way that has a positive impact on society,” says Dickerson. And that doesn’t mean being a charity, she warns. The entrepreneur advises other women looking to start a business to always put people first. “We have decided to put our employees, our suppliers and our investors at the center of everything we do and every decision we make. And if it doesn’t have a positive impact on our employees, we won’t.

There are many aspects of our life — menopause? nail fungus? – which are still considered taboo and prohibited for friendly conversation at dinner. But it is often these very challenges that most need a solution. Dickerson has shown that finding that important unmet need in an overlooked market, and then creating an effective solution, can lead to great rewards.