CNS was originally formed by Dr. Daniel Cohen and Dr. Frederick Strobl as a medical equipment company in 1982. Strobl and Cohen were neurology residents at the University of Minnesota hospitals. Strobl was also an electrical engineer. The original intent of the company was to revolutionize brain activity monitoring by inventing and marketing a personal computer equipped with a circuit board that could analyze brain waves in real time during operations. After five years of increased technological advances but a steady decline in sales, the company hired Fred Brooks as president. In 1990, the company finally recorded profits in 1990 for the first time by marketing their brain monitoring equipment to sleep clinics.
In 1991, Cohen met with Bruce Johnson, who wanted to scientifically advance some ideas he had for a nasal dilating system. After many attempts to dilate his own nasal passages internally, he came up with the idea to dilate them externally. Johnson then spent the next three years working on a spring loaded strip that would lift his nostrils and keep them dilated. CNS then acquired the rights to market and sell this product in 1992, and Cohen reassumed the position of president.
In 1993, CNS hired Richard E. Jahnke as their new president. Because of a lengthy FDA approval process, it took a while before the Breathe Right strips could be sold to distributors. Because of this and because of continued losses in the sleep disorder market, CNS reported more losses in 1993. In 1994, however, things started to change. CNS was allowed shelf space in Eckerds, Walgreens, and Snyders. This, along with two endorsements from Herschel Walker and Jerry Rice, two prominent NFL athletes who swore by the use of the strip at the time, the sales of Breathe Right doubled in the fourth quarter of 1994. The company enjoyed continued success through marketing the strips as a use for athletic enhancement, a cure for snoring, a sleep aid, and a drug free way of degongestion.
Financial and Non-Financial Goals
The original non-financial goal of CNS was to produce efficient and useful technology to monitor brain activity that neurologists could use to effectively receive and translate data from electrical signals in the patient’s brain in real time during an operation. After this attempt at innovation failed to be profitable, the company acquired the marketing rights to the nasal strips invented by Bruce Johnson, and the company’s primary goal was the marketing and sales of the “Breathe Right” nasal strip.