Cindy Eckert (formerly Whitehead)
Cindy Eckert (formerly Whitehead) is an American entrepreneur who built and sold two pharmaceutical companies, notably Sprout Pharmaceuticals, creator of “female Viagra,” for more than $1B. She subsequently founded The Pink Ceiling which invests in companies founded by, or delivering products for, women. The Pink Ceiling's incubator - dubbed The Pinkubator - is based in Raleigh, NC. Eckert was featured on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine's Women to Watch issue in January 2016. In November 2017, Eckert re-acquired Sprout Pharmaceuticals, and the rights to its drug Addyi, from Valeant.
Cindy Eckert was born in upstate New York. According to a New York Times profile piece, she attended a different school each year from the fourth grade through the twelfth. During those years she lived overseas where her father Fred Eckert served as a US Ambassador to Fiji.  She graduated from Marymount University in Virginia.
Eckert began her career with Merck, before moving on to work with smaller, specialty pharmaceutical companies Dura and Elan. After a stint with QVC, Eckert returned to the healthcare space to found two pharmaceutical companies - Slate Pharmaceuticals and Sprout Pharmaceuticals - both of which she sold.
She sold Sprout to Valeant in 2015 after the company won FDA approval for the drug Addyi, the first drug designed to enhance female libido. Prior to founding Sprout, Eckert co-founded Slate Pharmaceuticals in 2007. Slate was focused on men's sexual health with an FDA approved long acting testosterone product, Testopel. Slate sold in 2011 to Actient Pharmaceuticals.
Eckert established an investment firm called The Pink Ceiling in 2016 after the most recent exit, when she sold Sprout Pharmaceuticals to Valeant Pharmaceuticals for $1 billion. In November 2017, Eckert re-acquired Sprout Pharmaceuticals from Valeant for "almost nothing", according to Bloomberg.
In 2018, Eckert formally changed her name from Cindy Whitehead.
The Pink Ceiling
Eckert launched the Pink Ceiling in order to improve access to capital for female-led start-ups. “The injustice I’m fighting with the Pink Ceiling is not only women’s limited access to capital, but also their limited access to mentors,” she told Entrepreneur Magazine. Eckert works with a team of women to determine which female-led companies will be the recipients of venture capital funding.
To date, The Pink Ceiling has invested in eleven start-ups, with public announcements on their involvement with Undercover Colors (a company that is developing wearable nail tech to detect the presence of a date rape drug in drinks), Lia Diagnostics (which produces a flushable pregnancy test), Intuitap (which has a medical device aimed to streamline the spinal tap procedure), and Pursuit (which is developing a patented technology to improve four different aspects of sleep)
The Pink Ceiling's affiliated incubator, called the “Pinkubator” because of its female focus, is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The “Pinkubator” was established to provide female-focused entrepreneurs with direct access to mentors, investment opportunities, and business development guidance.
- "This Entrepreneur Who Sold Her Company for $1 Billion Wants You to Throw Out the Unwritten Rules That Hold You Back". Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "2016's Women To Watch". Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "Valeant Gives $1 Billion Female Libido Pill Back to Old Owners". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
- "Cindy Whitehead: No Nickname? Just Leave That to Me". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "Woman behind female libido drug launches 'Pinkubator' for women-focused businesses". NewsObserver.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "CEO of company behind Addyi says female sexuality is about biology, not just psychology". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "Company Overview of Slate Pharmaceuticals, Inc". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "The woman behind 'female Viagra' sold her company for $1 billion — that's when everything fell apart". BusinessInsider.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "How To Make Millions Off Your Exit: 7 Entrepreneurs Worth Over $2 Billion Explain". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "'Female Viagra' Founder Is Back as CEO After Valeant Gave the Billion-Dollar Drug Back for Free". Fortune.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
- "How I Get It Done: Cindy Whitehead, the Creator of 'Female Viagra'". NYMag.com. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
- "Exclusive: The Woman Behind the 'Female Viagra' Has a New Venture". Fortune.com. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
- "Philly startup creates new pregnancy test". Philly.com. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
- "Unapologetically Pink". FacesOfFounders.com. Retrieved 2017-08-11.