The Founder of Airborne on the Company's Windfalls and Lawsuits
Season 5 Episode 511
In 2004, The Oprah Winfrey Show introduced viewers to Victoria Knight McDowell, an underpaid 2nd grade teacher with a $1 million idea.
"As a teacher of young children, I found myself getting sick all the time," Victoria says. "Kids are like little petri dishes. After a few years of going through the cycle of colds, I decided I had to do something about it."
So in her spare time, Victoria took to her kitchen where she started to wage war on the common cold. Within six months, she created the prototype for the cold-preventer that would soon change her life: Airborne.
It was a hit. Airborne soon became the number-one natural cold-fighting remedy in the US—and the company still only had five employees. However, the success didn't end there. Once Victoria appeared on The Oprah Show, she says the "chaos in the office was unbelievable."
"We went from the forecasted $20 million to $67 million that year," Victoria says. "The following year we did a $150 in business, and that was the year we sold it."
Soon after, the company faced some unwelcomed drama: In 2006, a class-action lawsuit was brought against the company, citing no credible evidence that it prevented colds.
Rather than washing her hands of the company she founded, Victoria actually returned. Watch the above video as she discusses the lawsuit and why she decided to buy the company back.