I recently spent part of an an afternoon with Paul Silber, a valued Advisory Board Member. It was a fascinating discussion as we talked about his business career and how he has been “filling his time” since selling In Vitro Technologies four years ago – MG
Dealing with “too much of a good thing”
In 1986, Paul’s first job was at Mary Kay Cosmetics in Dallas, Texas. A newly minted Ph.D., “I thought I’d probably join P&G, or Smith Kline”, Paul said, “but Mary Kay was offering me the opportunity to pursue my greatest interest, Toxicology”. As Paul explained to me, the simplest definition of Toxicology is dealing with too much of a good thing. Paul loved the work he did at Mary Kay, “I could kill a product if necessary and more than once was called to Mary Kay’s office to talk about the affect of one of the company’s products on her sensitive skin”.
Mary Kay turned out to be a great experience for Paul; he worked closely with the regulatory affairs group, marketing, operations, and represented Mary Kay in Washington with the industry groups. “This turned out to be a very critical period for both the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as we came under attack by the animal rights groups.” “My boss and I saw an opportunity to start our own company, where animals were not necessary for testing and we began to use test tube methods instead to determine how things would react.” The company they started was called In Vitro Alternatives, and the “aha” moment was when Revlon announced they were going to stop all animal testing. One early bump in his new entrepreneurial life was the partnership failing, “we split the company in half and I never looked back. In Vitro test tube tests changed the paradigm and an American success story was underway.