Clear aligners are the almost invisible braces used by dentists to correct mild to moderate orthodontic problems. They look a lot better than traditional braces and their aesthetic appeal is driving significant consumer demand for the treatment. The global clear aligners market is projected to grow from $2.85 billion (€2.8 billion) in 2021 to $10.04 billion in 2028. Despite this, many dentists don’t offer the treatment because it can be a hassle to set up and time consuming to run. However, newly formed dental software company, Smile Genius, says its plug and play system makes the process as painless as possible.
Set up in October last year by co-founders Dr Mark-Anthony Shepherd, Nipun Kathuria and Arun Justin Robert, the Smile Genius platform makes it quick and easy for dentists to boost their revenues by offering patients a clear aligners service. It will also help larger clinics and dental labs to streamline the processes involved.
A trial version of the platform was launched in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Jamaica, the UAE and India earlier this year and, following the incorporation of customer feedback, the company is now looking to raise €800,000 to roll out Smile Genius in Ireland, the UK, India and the US. Its revenue model is SaaS.
Not offering clear aligners is a missed opportunity and, as of now, many dentists are simply referring their patients elsewhere
“With our cloud-based platform a dentist anywhere can start offering clear aligners with a single click. There is no need to buy hardware or software or to spend time setting up a platform or managing data. Dentists should be free to focus on their patients, not spending time on tasks that automation can do for them,” says chief operating officer Nipun Kathuria.
“This is a competitive market and dentists are also feeling the heat from big US and UK businesses that are either selling directly to customers or operating a hybrid partnership model that’s taking potential market share from them,” he adds.
“Not offering clear aligners is a missed opportunity and, as of now, many dentists are simply referring their patients elsewhere. With Smile Genius, dentists can give their patients better in-clinic treatment which also comes with bigger margins.”
The idea for Smile Genius came from dentist Dr Mark-Anthony Shepherd who had worked with a number of large clear aligner providers in Ireland and abroad.
“During this time he realised that what these big businesses were doing could be modelled at scale for small, local practices. He first built an MVP platform for his own practice in Finglas and later assisted other dentists globally with the same blueprint. He quickly realised that the platform had universal appeal and at that point I came on board to start putting the vision together,” says Kathuria, a software engineer and digital transformation expert married to a dentist.
In-house know-how allowed Smile Genius to pin its start-up costs at about €50,000 in hard cash and the company, which has received support from Local Enterprise Office (Leo) South Dublin, is about to go into hiring mode for roles in areas such as sales and marketing and customer service.
Smile Genius is aimed at dentists, orthodontists, labs and clear aligner companies operating or working with multiple clinics. “The platform will appeal to dental practices starting a clear aligner service for the first time but also to businesses already providing it as it reduces the amount of time they have to spend on the administration that goes with it,” Kathuria says.
“While there are competitors in the market, they are generally focused on only part of the dental chain which comprises the clinic, the lab and the patient. We are the first global all-in-one platform that connects all three pieces of the puzzle by offering a clinic portal, a lab portal and a patient monitoring app to our dentists. We also plan to offer a personalisation feature where clinics can use their own logo to drive more engagement with their patients.”