Fighting against Goliath
What would you do if your partner suffered from a disease that other people find disgusting? There is one disease like that: Psoriasis. For most people the mark of Cain. For Jutka Kovacs this was a great business idea. She brought new hope to all psoriasis patients in the Czech Republic.
Women usually like "pretty" things, esthetic medicine or wellness. You chose something less attractive, you help patients with psoriasis. How did you come up with this idea?
I lived with a person who suffered from psoriasis, so I learned a lot about this traumatic disease and understood that we have to do everything we can to help these people. Just try to imagine how they feel! How terrible it must to be afraid of public, to feel that others hate the way you look. You feel as if you had leprosy, separated from the society.
On one hand you felt with these people, on the other hand you realized there was a business opportunity.
As it was part of my life, I realized there was a deeper reason behind it. Also, I always knew I wanted to do something on my own. And that this "something" would have to be truly good and meaningful. But looking back I have to admit how naive and romantic I really was. At that time, I had no idea what I was setting myself for. I had no money, no previous experience, nobody who could help me. I jumped right into the complicated pharmaceutical world. I am fighting the competition of the most powerful international pharmaceutical companies. So back in 2004 I started my "David and Goliath" fight.
Mr. Michael Tirant, Australian medical scientist, participated in the recent World Congress of Dermatology, which took place in Prague. Mr. Tirant is the inventor of the miraculous psoriasis treatment. How did you meet him?
It was in 2001. I was in Budapest and then one evening I heard on the news about "the revolutionary product" for psoriasis patients. I tried to find out more about it and also about the inventor and producer. And that is how I learned about Dr. Michael Tirant. I contacted the Hungarian distributor and he introduced me to him. That moment changed my life.
What would you like to say to dermatologists that do not approve this natural treatment?
It is understandable. They usually are skeptical at the beginning. There are so many natural products on the market and all of them are supposed to have healing effects. Doctors are, therefore, extremely cautious when it comes to trying the products and recommending them to their patients.
What drives you? Is it the patients that come back to you, the treatment works and their lives are changing for better?
I am truly happy we have so many satisfied patients. I know many of them personally, so I am familiar with their lives before and after our treatment. Many of them started to live life to its fullest after many years of suffering from psoriasis. I will never forget a mother of an 11 year-old boy. She wrote me a letter asking for help, she was hopeless, her son refused to go to school. His schoolmates were laughing at him, they told him he had leprosy and that he should stay at home. He was crying, asking his mom not to send him to school, but of course she had no choice. So she contacted me. A few months later she sent me a thank-you letter, the most beautiful one I ever got.
You do not give up easily, do you? You have approached the leading Czech dermatologists to test the effectiveness of Dr Michaels products.
In order to prove to our patients that our products really do work and that they can help them, I wanted to cooperate with the best doctors. I contacted ten most respected hospitals and dermatology centers and offered their leading dermatologists the opportunity to participate in our tests. It was clear that the more doctors would come up with the same results, the less skepticism I would have to face in the future.
What is it like for you as a foreigner doing business on the Czech market?
I have to admit that I have been real lucky. Being a foreigner, my Czech is far from perfect. However, I have met people that respected me for trying to speak the language. They were nice to me. Sometimes it is embarrassing for me to speak Czech because I know I still make a lot of mistakes, I misuse words that sound similar but mean something totally different. But people with good sense of humor appreciate my unusual language. Of course I am not always 100 % sure about all the details, but people have not taken advantage of it so far. I do not feel limited because I am a foreigner.
Do you think that business women have easier life than business men? What is the situation like in your native Hungary?
If I could have spent the last five years as a man, then I could answer your question better, I guess. I could compare both sides. However, I work with many female professionals as well, with professors or doctors. So I do not think being a man or a woman is the problem. In my opinion, if you are hardworking, fair, correct person fighting for the right thing, nobody cares if you are a woman or a man. I think this applies in the Czech Republic as well as in Hungary.
You are all the time travelling between the Czech Republic and Hungary. How do you recharge your batteries?
I love going for movies. I have not had any free time for a few years. Now, when my business is a bit more settled, I always find time to go on real vacation. There are so many places where I would love to go! All I need is sea, sun and smiley people. I have not scuba-dived for a long time either, so this is what I plan to do in near future.
Do you have time for little pleasures? I mean going to a hairdresser, for a massage, simply pampering yourself a bit?
Now I already do, but the first four years I had no time or money for anything but business. I truly did not "exist" these four years. I had no life, really. I went through hell. All I wanted was to succeed. But it was worth it.
So your personal life had to take a second place to your business life.
As I have already mentioned, I had no private time until recently. I did not have a chance to live that type of life women usually dream about. But I am not worried. Now, when my company is fairly stable I can start living the way I want, which means having a traditional family structure. But family requires stability. I am, in fact, very lucky, because being still fairly young I have achieved something I can be proud of. I am convinced that what I have been creating the last few years could one day provide good living for my children and grandchildren, unless something unpredictable happens. I always make long-term plans.
You constantly move forward, you are always looking for something new. What would be your next step?
I am going to move to the U.S.A. There are ten million patients there and another three million of them are in Canada. That is a huge challenge for me. I know that Obama’s U.S.A. is the place where I will be happy.
- Fighting against Goliath (original) (PDF, 492.02 kB)