Physician Jacqueline Darna is the founder and inventor of No Mo Nausea, a manufacturer of wristbands that aid in the cessation of nausea and migraines, and essential oils to help insomnia. The company is expected to do $14 million to $15 million in revenue in 2022. The ever-ambitious Darna says her goal is closer to $20 million.
She says her latest venture, DocOTC, which went public this month, will be a game-changer in the medical sales industry.
Bridgette Bello, chief executive officer and publisher of Tampa Bay Business and Wealth, interviewed Darna in front of a sold-out crowd at The Colony Grill in St. Petersburg. This transcribed interview has been edited for length and brevity.
Has anything fabulous happened since you became the cover star for TBBW?
When it rains, it showers. For No Mo Nausea, we’re in about 30,000 retailers and retailers don’t come quickly. But since the story broke, we began shipping to Walmart for checkout aisle placement.
We’ve had seven investor meetings for DocOTC. They have told me they read the story. And it was fascinating, knowing that I’m a physician getting into medical technology. It’s intriguing to them, so they ask me to tell them more. It was all because of the story.
I’m going to be the next unicorn, which if you don’t know what that means, it’s a billion-dollar business, and I’m keeping it here [in Tampa].
You had an interesting childhood. Can you expand on some of the pivotal parts that we weren’t able to cover in the story? The things that really made you who you are today and gave you the drive to do what you’re doing?
I am definitely a daddy’s girl, that’s first and foremost. Actually, this incredible man next to me, who is also a physician (her father), he taught me and raised me right. He taught me that, through education, you can do anything. What I learned through entrepreneurship, is there is no book, there’s no guideline, there’s no number or a year of schooling that I can do to prepare myself for what was coming up next.
Business is the business of people. It’s not about products. It’s not about services. It’s all about people. And it’s all about relationships. One of my favorite quotes comes from Brooke [Mirenda, CEO of SEDCO and sponsor for the event]. It was on LinkedIn. And it said, ‘Let’s just be human, for God’s sake.’ Just treat everyone with respect.
You shared some tender stories about your grandma. It was obvious that she had an impact on your life. Do you want to honor her tonight by talking a little bit about her and what she meant to your story?
I just want to say, if you’re a mom, give yourselves a round of applause, because it takes a tribe, it takes a colony. My mother always said I can do anything, and she was right.
No one in my family is an entrepreneur. Nobody owns their own business. I kind of came out and was the black sheep of the family. I think the thing that really stuck out to me is that [my grandmother] had this drive and determination. My grandmother was left by my grandfather with six very young children, in Peru, and she had to make a living for all these children.
She walked into this company and said, ‘I need a medical sales job.’ And at the time, you must remember that is completely unheard of. My father is in his mid-60s, so you guys can do the math. It was totally unheard of, especially in a third-world country. They gave her a bag of water and they said, ‘If you can sell this bag of water, then we’ll give you something for real.’ My grandma was the first female medical sales rep in the country of Peru.
That woman could push candles and earrings and whatever it was that you wanted that you didn’t even know until after they were in your hand and after you bought them. My sales tactics all come from my grandmother and that’s the hustle that I’ll never stop.
Is grandma where your passion for international health equity came from?
It came from me seeing both sides of health care. Me being from the Western world, I do appreciate medication for practicing anesthesia and putting people to sleep. The difference is I invented natural ways that help and it’s what we call, in medicine, a multimodal approach. How many drugs can you say can stop 80% of nausea and vomiting in 30 seconds? It won’t even get to your system by then. The difference is you literally throw it on your wrist and you smell it. Now we have 11 clinical trials so we can prove our efficacy and multiple different methods of modalities.
DocOTC launched in March. You’re obviously super excited about that.
I’m so excited. I can’t even explain. You must remember that as an entrepreneur, you’re always having ideas. You’re always thinking. I can’t turn it off. Sometimes my husband will say, “just shut it off,” but I can’t.
One day, I had to pick up my kids because we all know COVID culture, they were coughing because they have allergies. I couldn’t get an appointment with my pediatrician. I’m driving and I’m on a telemedicine appointment. The pediatrician started talking about over-the-counter items, like a Neti pot and I’m driving, I don’t have a pen and paper, I can’t write it down.
At the same time, I’m thinking I can’t really go to the pharmacy and pick out all these things because I don’t have time and I can’t go to Amazon [and] buy all this stuff because I don’t remember what it was he just said five minutes ago. I had wished there was an online shopping cart for telemedicine. That’s the birth story of DocOTC.
I think is cool is that you have a crowdfunding opportunity, which I know some companies have done, but she’s like, I want everybody, even people who don’t know how to invest or people who don’t have the money to invest, to be able to be a part of DocOTC. Why don’t you talk about the crowdfunding opportunity?
I keep looking at a bunch of people in the room that have really, truly, made a difference [in my career]. So why not make their money too? So besides accepting our $10 million check from a regular venture capital [company], we’re also putting it under crowdfunding, meaning another company that looks very similar to us on a different crowdfunding platform, you only have to have $100. You get a chance to be able to invest in DocOTC when it first starts. Because let me tell you, once it goes on the market, it just starts to up and up and up.
What’s more important to me than the money is connections and people. Let’s all make money together. ♦
Photos by Tacy Troncoso