This Dental Startup Is Making Smile Makeovers
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COVID-19 dramatically changed dental practices, but the long-term secrets to success are only now becoming clear.
When the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in March 2020, it sent shockwaves through nearly every aspect of everyday life. For dental professionals, there were no exceptions. This meant rethinking the entire patient experience, re-evaluating clinical delivery systems, and revisiting basic principles of infection control and universal precautions. But now that some time has passed, we are beginning to understand why some dental practices were able to successfully adapt to COVID-19's challenges and make sustainable long-term improvements.
With the pandemic still on the growth curve, there is no hope of revival anytime soon, compounded by zero earnings by dental practitioners and staff at clinics.
Dentistry is facing its darkest hour yet, with the growth and spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Dental surgeons are at the highest risk of contracting and transmitting the coronavirus, alongside paramedics, nurses, and other healthcare workers. With the pandemic still on the growth curve and it is difficult to ascertain the extent and severity of its long-term impact at this point of time. The professional future of dental practitioners and the sustenance of their practices is a serious concern.
Practicing is a challenge as most of the practices including dental colleges and teaching institutions are not compatible with government norms and regulations on COVID-19. With the majority of the practices in India failing to adhere to strict hygiene protocol, sanitization and sterilization at dental practices are widely absent, further increasing the risks in performing emergency dental procedures.
The coming together of dentistry and medicine, pharma, and IT in the country will make a huge positive impact in providing essential, acute emergency dental services to the masses. Practitioners are adapting to the idea of teledentistry globally which can be incredibly useful for triaging and will also reduce unnecessary face-to-face time with patients. However, this needs to be regulated and also remunerated. This model, if adopted in India, can help save time, effort, and money significantly: providing emergency dental access to the masses.
toothsi co-founder and chief executive officer Dr. Arpi Mehta told Entrepreneur India that the idea for toothsi came about when she saw adults of up to 80 years of age fulfilling their desire to sport a straight-teethed smile in Paris. It was then she said that she realized that the market for teeth alignment and straightening in India was extremely unorganized and fragmented.
According to the Mumbai-based entrepreneur, a good smile is important to elevate one’s confidence, whether you are a school-goer, a salaried professional, or an artist. In line with this belief, they are committed to making smile makeovers more affordable, convenient, accessible, and pain-free for customers across all demographics in India.
Established in November 2018, Dr. Mehta co-founded at-home smile makeover service brand toothsi, with a team of expert orthodontics that consists of Dr. Pravin Shetty, Dr. Anirudh Kale, and Dr. Manjul Jain.
“Technology is at the core of everything we do. Our tech-based focus translates into twofold deployment. First is our core technology that has enabled us to replace conventional braces with a tech-driven product while empowering us to provide customized aligners for every customer’s unique orthodontic requirements. The second involves allied technology which powers our D2C, customer-oriented model, enabling us to seamlessly manage end-to-end processes in a customer’s smile correction journey – from counseling and scanning to treatment planning and post-service care – completely in-house. Allied tech also empowers us to scale up our operations rapidly in sync with the growing demand while enabling us to drive efficiencies within the organization,” she shared.
In India, however, most people do not realize the need for orthodontic care until late teens/early adulthood. By that age, the idea of wearing metal braces for a period of up to two years discourages most people from seeking treatment. This causes a large number of prospective customers to forego smile correction service. It is estimated that less than 10 per cent of more than 600 million Indians who could benefit tremendously from smile correction actually end up accessing it.
“Our value proposition is focused on addressing and resolving precisely this market gap. Previously, customers looking to get their teeth straightened had limited options available to them. Through toothsi, we are offering a painless, irritation-free, comfortable, stylish and, above all, an inconspicuous alternative to teeth straightening. By offering these benefits, we aim to ensure that prospective customers do not decide against accessing smile correction services because they are worried the treatment might affect their appearance in a way that makes them conscious. Not only this, since toothsi aligners are removable, customers can enjoy their favorite food and drinks without worrying about staining or damaging their dental appendages. On the back of these features, we aim to empower Indians of all age groups with a confident smile that they can love and proudly wear at all times,” Dr. Mehta mentioned.
Started out with a team of fifteen orthodontic professionals and experts, today, they have a team of more than 300 people including veteran orthodontists and dentists, tech enthusiasts, and business-minded individuals. Together, they claimed to have designed over 16,000 smile makeover plans to date, of which around 9,000 smile plans were designed in 2020 alone. Moving ahead, they are gearing up to design 50,000 smile plans in 2021.
The health and wellness platform toothsi, which is part of its parent company AMPA Orthodontics Pvt Ltd, has recently raised $5 million in Series A round and their total funding, to date, stands at $9 million.
“As we embark on the next chapter of our growth story, we plan to optimize our tech infrastructure to enhance our backend and frontend technology. The idea is to make our existing processes even more seamless and deliver a truly end-to-end digital experience to our customers.
We are also committed to bolstering our team – the foundation upon which toothsi’s success story has been built. By further expanding our team, both in terms of size and skill-sets, we aim to execute and deliver satisfying customer experiences at scale. The move will also empower us to expand our geographical footprint to capture more of the high-potential teeth straightening market in India over the next 18 months,” she further added.
Today, toothsi is present in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Pune. They have delivered 11,000 smile makeover plans and is planning to reach INR 100 crore ARR in a few months.