Background: When asked about his career path, Edgar Otto pauses and replies with one word: “Convoluted.” As the son of NASCAR co-founder Edward Otto, Edgar never really needed to work. But his entrepreneurial spirit led him to a buy a newspaper route and launch a snowplow insurance business in his home state of New Jersey. Later, he discovered a new way of manufacturing TV dinner trays, an idea he sold to Stouffer’s for $88 million. Otto then turned his advocacy for hyperbaric oxygen treatment into a company called National Healing, which he sold for $135 million. These days, he’s shifting his focus to Man’s Best Friend.
How he is making a difference: Otto, who owns 10 dogs, five cats and four birds, is a Tri County Humane Society board member who, in 2009, became the first person to clone a pet—his Labrador, Lancelot. Two years later, at age 80, he formed his current company, Pet Stem Cell Solutions, which uses stem cells and hyperbaric treatment on injured animals. Because Medicare does not control dispensation for the treatment of animals, Otto has been able to cure sick pets with a treatment method the government still won’t cover for humans. Calusa Veterinary Hospital, located a thousand feet from Otto’s Boca office, became the first hospital to employ Otto’s pet chamber, which a veterinary assistant refers to as “the magic wand.” The efficacy of Pet Stem Cell Solutions has been shown in a number of cases at Calusa, where pets that would have been euthanized are now living full, healthy lives.
What the future holds: Otto’s goal is to have his hyperbaric chambers in every veterinary school in every university in the country. “When we start making their blind dogs see, and when we make their paralyzed dogs walk, I’m hoping people will open their eyes and say, ‘Something’s wrong here. I can take my dog to the veterinarian and have him cured, but I can’t be cured myself.’ I hope I live long enough to see it happen.”