Zestra Featured in Forbes!

Posted 9:29 pm, November 3rd, 2009 by admin

Seeking satisfaction: Rachel Braun Scherl and Mary Jaensch have raised millions to revive women’s sex lives.

Seeking satisfaction: Rachel Braun Scherl and Mary Jaensch have raised millions to revive women’s sex lives.

Passion Play by Maureen Farrell, 08.05.09, 06:00 PM EDTForbes Magazine dated August 24, 2009

Two ex-consultants bring a bankrupt ointment maker into America’s bedrooms.

Pharmacologist Martin Crosby spent much of the 1990s developing a female counterpart to Viagra. Crosby had made a pile with patents on two pain-management drugs, for patients with terminal cancer and multiple sclerosis. Five years and $1 million later he came up with Zestra–a topical potion, made from evening primrose and borage oils and two extracts, that enhances sexual stimulation. Sensing a hit, Younis Zubchevich, a New York investment banker, agreed to help Crosby bring Zestra to the frustrated masses. He rustled $3 million and hired a mostly male management squad; in 2006 he raised $6 million more in a convertible-preferred stock deal that valued the Charleston, S.C. company, called Zestra Laboratories, at $35 million.

The pleasure didn’t last. In 2006 Zestra Labs lost $4.8 million on $3.2 million in sales. Two prime-time television ad campaigns dug a deeper hole–as did a $2 million, 200-patient study commissioned by the company in 2005 to give the ointment a dose of credibility with medical professionals. (The study concluded that the stuff performed better than a placebo, and increased “desire, arousal and satisfaction” in seven out of ten women.) Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart and Kmart made room on their shelves for the over-the-counter preparation but charged hefty placement fees. As the red ink flowed, Crosby fired Zubchevich, who filed a suit (later dropped) for $200,000 in back pay. When a $15 million round of new funding never materialized, Zestra filed for Chapter 11 in 2008.

To the rescue come Mary Jaensch, 57, and Rachel Braun Scherl, 44, owners of the Spark Group, consultants to companies like Wyeth ( WYE – news – people ) selling o-t-c products such as Advil and Robitussin. All Zestra needs, they figure, is a little marketing and management, not to mention some cash. “There are a lot of women out there who are not necessarily sexually satisfied who would never think about bringing it up with their doctor or taking a [prescription] drug for it,” says Scherl.

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Rachel Braun Scherl is the Co-Founder with Mary Wallace Jaensch of Semprae Laboratories Inc, the makers of Zestra. To see more posts click here

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Rachel Braun Scherl is the Co-Founder with Mary Wallace Jaensch of Semprae Laboratories Inc, the makers of Zestra.

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