Propelify’s fifth year — now fully virtual to adapt to the times — adopted the theme “#BuildABetterFutureForAll,” with different sub-tags each day. For instance, Day 2 centered around the theme “#BetterWellness.”
One of the most intriguing sessions of the second day was moderated by Aaron Price, founder of Propelify and president and CEO of TechUnited:NJ.
His guests were a pair of unique entrepreneurs, Cindy Eckert and David Meltzer. Both share several characteristics and have had interesting careers. Eckert and Meltzer are extremely passionate about entrepreneurship, generously giving back to their respective communities and assisting countless others along the way.
Price also shares this mindset, as any attendee of his numerous in-person or online events can attest.
Eckert is likely best known for building and selling two large, healthcare-focused companies, Sprout Pharmaceuticals (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.), creator of the “female Viagra,” and Slate Pharmaceuticals (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.), both them later acquired in separate transactions for an impressive aggregate value in excess of $1 billion.
She subsequently founded The Pink Ceiling (Raleigh, N.C.), which invests in female-founded organizations led by disruptors who are laser-focused on delivering health and wellness products for women. Two examples of TPC’s investments include:
- The first-ever flushable pregnancy test
- Tech that enables a woman to simply dip her finger into a drink and accurately check whether a date rape drug is present
TPC also manages an incubator dubbed “The Pinkubator.” Eckert’s mission is to make other women “really f’n rich,” although, by her admission, she has never personally done anything throughout her career exclusively for the money.
“Money is a conduit to doing good in the world,” said Eckert. It’s an astonishing statistic that although women account for half the population, “only 2 percent of investor money goes to fund female-led businesses. There is a multiplier effect of innovation,” she said. Using her capital, Eckert is helping to even the playing field.
During her career, she made a huge personal pivot from being underestimated to being unapologetic. When it comes to addressing naysayers and critics, Eckert advises founders and entrepreneurs to listen closely, but opt for one of two choices: Either lean away from it or go for it and break through it!
Money is a conduit to doing good in the world.Cindy Eckert, The Pink Ceiling
She has clearly chosen the second path in recent years. One interesting anecdote she shared with the virtual Propelify audience was an experience she had had as a female founder and senior exec presenting at a Wall Street investor conference to a large, primarily male audience.
Pitching “Female Viagra”
She was there to raise capital for her company and had only eight minutes to make her pitch. Unfortunately, Eckert immediately got off on the wrong foot, as the audience did not take her seriously, and many began laughing very early on, when she began lecturing them about her female-oriented Viagra product, which clearly made them uncomfortable.
Maintaining her composure, she took an extra-long pause to calm her nerves and eventually the crowd. Eckert remained silent for a while before putting up a slide in her deck filled with brain scans. “I’m here to talk about the biology of women’s sexuality,” she stated. Her strategy worked. She soon got the investors back on her side and earned their respect and attention.
“You must be authentic from the start,” she asserted. And, “when pitching and seeking capital, you must tell investors what’s in it for them” to ultimately get them engaged.
Price also added some advice for founders seeking to raise capital: Practice numerous times in front of a video camera, play it back so you can see yourself and keep doing this until you are comfortable with the results.
“Make a lot of money, help a lot of people, have a lot of fun!”David Meltzer, entrepreneur and best-selling author
Meltzer, a prominent entrepreneur and best-selling author, advised the startup founders in the audience on what to keep in mind when approaching investors for funding:
- Maintain credibility.
- Exhibit emotional attachment.
- Quantify — Say what will be the impact of your investment and highlight the capabilities of the founder and teammates.
His three-part mantra for success is clearly highlighted front and center on the homepage of his website: “Make a lot of money, help a lot of people, have a lot of fun!”
Meltzer cofounded Sports 1 Marketing (Irvine, Calif.) after serving as CEO of the renowned agency Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment (Newport Beach, Calif.), the inspiration for the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire,” which starred Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger.
Meltzer achieved a tremendous rise to wealth after graduation from law school. By his early 30s, he had already accumulated assets in excess of $120 million. The story didn’t end there, though, as he subsequently lost it all before making a huge comeback, becoming a leading motivational speaker, business coach and philanthropist.
By Meltzer’s own admission, early in his career he was working just for the money. “I paid a dummy tax along the way,” he said. As a teen growing up in a relatively poor family in Akron, Ohio, he was desperate to make money. In fact, his first job was as a “bag man,” illegally transporting drugs from one part of the city to another.
Today, his overriding goal is empowering others. He hopes to positively impact the lives of an astonishing 1 billion people, teaching them to learn how to receive and channel the collective empowerment of consciousness.
According to Meltzer, a valuable lesson he had learned the hard way earlier in his career was that “money doesn’t buy happiness. Rather, it should be used as a tool to get what you want, the right things that will make you happy.”
In his view, entrepreneurs will help save the world. If you’re not doing something that makes people laugh at you, you’re likely doing the wrong thing, he said. You cannot care about what other people think. “You have to believe in yourself and know that you will make many mistakes along the way.”
At the end of the session Price asked the two, “How do we build a better future?”
- Meltzer: Be aware of everyone’s vested interests, and make sure you are open-minded.
- Eckert: Make decisions based on the collective outcome. … Make your win a win for others, too!