Below is our recent interview with Alex Fenkell, Co-Founder at SmileDirectClub:
Q: For those who have never heard of it, how would you describe SmileDirectClub?
A: SmileDirectClub pioneered the at-home, doctor-directed invisible aligner industry. Through our teledentistry platform, state-licensed dentists and orthodontists are able to deliver invisible aligners directly to the home for 60% less than the price of other teeth straightening options. It’s by eliminating costly and time-consuming in-office visits that we’re able to create these savings and pass them on to our customers. SmileDirectClub works with 225 state-licensed dentists and orthodontists who have successfully treated over 300,000 people since the business launched in 2014.
Customers can easily get started with the SmileDirectClub service by visiting one of our 150 SmileShops around the country, or by ordering our impression kit to take imprints of their teeth from the convenience of their home. Next, your state-licensed doctor creates a custom 3D treatment plan showing how your teeth will move, and your aligners are delivered directly to your door. The average treatment plan takes 6 months.
Q: What is your core competence?
A: Continuing our mission of access to care. My co-founder, Jordan Katzman, and I started this business to help serve people and provide them with a smile they’ll love, and we feel that we are only getting started. There are 100 million people in the U.S. who could benefit from at-home, doctor-directed invisible aligner therapy, and we’re rapidly expanding to help reach more of these people.
Q: What were the main challenges you faced in developing the company?
A: We are obsessed with customer experience and making sure we provide the best service possible. If you spend time at our office, you will constantly hear the phrase “be the customer” – it drives everything we do. Early on as the company started to take off, we had some key learning lessons while supporting the unexpected growth. This resulted in operational improvements across the business that have made us stronger and enhanced the customer experience.
Q: You have recently raised $380M, could you tell us more about it?
A: The fundraising we have accomplished is very exciting for us, and we can’t wait to grow even bigger. Our mission has always been to provide an affordable and convenient option to anyone who wants to transform their smile. With this capital, we are eager to continue our growth into new spaces and continue to reach even more people with our life-changing service. We are grateful for the support from our new investors at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), Kleiner Perkins, and Spark Capital.
Q: What does the future hold?
A: We are thankful for our new investors and are excited looking toward the future. We will be using the funds raised from our latest round to focus on product innovation, research and development, and international expansion. The goal has always been to provide as many people as we can with access to care and a smile they’ll love, and we plan on accomplishing that goal.