Howard: It is just a huge honour for me today to be podcast interviewing Ben Goldberg all the way from, you’re in what, New York City right now?
Ben: We are downtown New York City.
Howard: In Manhattan, by the way, New York City is a myth, there is actually no such thing as New York City because I’ve never met anyone who is from New York City. I say “Are you from New York City?, No, I’m from Brooklyn, are you from New York City, no, I’m from Manhattan. Are you from New York City, no, I’m from the Bronx, I’m from Queens.” So New York City basically doesn’t even exist, does it?
Ben: I think that’s true, I believe New York City is made up.
Howard: No one will ever say, I’m from New York City. So Ben Goldberg is the Founder and CEO of GOBY.com, is it dot com or dot co?
Ben: Dot co.
Howard: What’s the difference between .co and .com?
Ben: We couldn’t get dot com so we got dot co.
Howard: Oh, I see. So it is just a different, what is it called, domain name?
Howard: You are the founder and CEO of GOBY.co after graduating from college in 2008 from the greatest University in the world, Arizona State University where we both went, Ben spent six years working in the finance world, growing restless, Ben left finance to go and travel the world. After returning from traveling, Ben noticed the pain point he was experience, was something many of his friends also experience, in short Ben was frustrated with how expensive premium oral care products cost. Everything from the replacement brush heads to the expensive handles that regularly broke.To solve this problem, Ben launched GOBY with the goal of making premium oral health care more accessible. GOBY is the new oral care brand launched in 2016, GOBY sells a premium electric toothbrush paired with a brush head subscription, lifetime guarantee and sold at half the price to the competition. GOBY has been featured everywhere from Dentaltown, GQ, Vogue and the New York Times. By the way, can you get me on the cover of Vogue, I want to be the first short, bald, grandpa on the cover of GQ.
Ben: I will see what I can do.
Howard: You’ll see what you can do. Tell them I am open to photoshop, GOBY sells directly to consumers to, through their website GOBY.co and partners with Ford [unclear 02:7]. So you know, when I first saw this, I thought my four-finger test was when you come out with a new product, it’s got to be faster, easier, higher in quality, lower in cost, and you seem to cover all those deals but it made me think also the dollar shave glove, it is kind of a similar deal. These shavers went through some nuclear race build up on how many blades they could get on a shaver and they drove up the cost of a shaver to insane levels, but when you look at professionals who shave people for a living, they only use one blade. That, what was it called, shavers club or the dollar shave club, so is this kind of what you’re doing, is this kind of like a dollar shave club play on electric toothbrushes?
Ben: Yeah, there are a lot of similarities. I was actually a customer of a similar dollar shave club, it is called Harry’s Razors. Same idea where it is more affordable razors sent to you on subscription, so as a customer of that, realizing the pain points that I was going through and seeing the similarities in both of these industries. It is dominated by two large players, it is usually the customer that loses out, so in the razor industry it is Gillette and Schick. You have these overpriced razors and then the electric toothbrush industry, there are two guys, I can’t remember their names at the moment.
Howard: What are their names, Oral B?
Ben: Yeah, that is one of them.
Howard: Oral B, who would the other one be?
Ben: Sonicare would be the other one.
Howard: Oral B and Sonicare, and batteries are the same way, what are the two batteries?
Ben: Duracell and Energizer.
Howard: Yeah, and what’s amazing is I have seen so many studies showing that, with all the billions of dollars of advertising those guys have done, there’s still mass confusion in the marketplace between those two. It’s basically the same colour, same packaging, so when they go up and say which one, you know, but anyway. So, yeah, so, Gillette and Schick razors are very expensive batteries are incredibly expensive, Oral B and Sonicare, so you’re less money than Oral B and Sonicare?
Ben: Sure, so our brush kit starts at $50 dollars and then, so that is half the price of the average electric toothbrush and the same thing goes for the replacement brush heads, they are $6 dollars each. Those get shipped, when you sign up the subscription gets shipped directly to the store, it includes free shipping, all our brushes come with a lifetime guarantee. We really want to make sure our customers have the best experience possible.
Howard: So obviously you don’t make the electric toothbrush, how did you find someone to make you an electric toothbrush?
Ben: It is our own design, so we have our own product team and we worked also with some talented industrial designers and spent about two years in designing the product itself. We worked closely with dentists in making sure it was something they would feel comfortable or recommend it will also does the job. But also consulting with research that is out there today that does a really good job of identifying what is of value and really what’s just a marketing gimmick.
Howard: Wow, so that is amazing, so I feel like I should turn into shark tank right now, I should turn into Mark Cuban and pretend I own the Mavericks.
Ben: Are you investing at the end of the show, is that what’s going to go on here?
Howard: Yeah, first of all, this is a very interesting story that seems like a lot of money, did you have to get investors for this, did you go on shark tank or to friends and family. Or how did you do this journey?
Ben: Yes, so that is a great question to ask, to get it going I used my own money that I had saved up from working in finance, and then earlier on, to move things along further we raised a small amount of money from some friends and family. Then right around when we were about to launch, we brought on some real investors, who, the reason they got on board was the problem that we identified was saying that absolutely resonated with them and they saw the pain points that they were experiencing in it. A lot of these guys are experts in, our main investors are experts in the selling direct to consumer space like Birchbox and Casper and Everlyn and [unclear 06:45] Parker. So they had a lot of great insight and they were some of our earlier investors.
Howard: My homies that are listening right now, they are commuting to work, that’s what 85% of them are doing, the other 15% are the poor bastards are on the treadmill, so they follow me @howard on Twitter @howardfarran and I just retweeted, you’re @gobyhq, I imagine that is for Head Quarters. What does GOBY HQ, where did GOBY come from?
Ben: That is my favourite question, so GOBY, it is a little fish.
Ben: Yeah, specifically the neon GOBY, it is known as the dentist of the sea because it’s this little fish that goes around and cleans the mouth of larger fish.
Howard: No kidding. Ryan, find that on, GOBY is a fish, you said it is a fish and it goes around cleaning?
Ben: Yeah, he sets up shop, he finds his little spot in the ocean and swims in a little zigzag pattern to bring bigger fish over, letting them know they’re ready to clean.
Howard: Wow, and I like the black brush, so how many different, I like that picture, she has got to buy a passport, it’s Bethany Looi, she says I am loving the look of my new GOBY toothbrush. So how many, is fashion a big part of that, I imagine with woman everything is fashion, so do you have different electric toothbrushes and looks for your female consumer who is into all that?
Ben: Sure, so when we launched, we had four of our main colours, actually there’s an orange one and we have four variations, I imagine your listeners can’t see it but we have four variations of that standard colour and then about three months ago we launched our all black toothbrush. That one has just been flying off the shelves, we have been having trouble keeping that one in stock just because of the reception, it has been amazing. To your point when we launched it, it got picked up by Vogue and it’s just something that everyone has gone crazy over.
Howard: Wow, so now what should dentists and hygienists think about this, first of all the question is, do you think electric toothbrush is better at plaque removal than toothbrush? I mean, in my thoughts, obviously if I had to cut a table in half I would rather use a power saw than a hand saw, I mean, that just sounds amazing. I am also down here in Phoenix Arizona which is a retirement place where everybody west of the Mississippi, everybody on your side of the Mississippi goes to Florida and everybody on the west side of the Mississippi, from North and South Dakota and Montana and Minnesota, Canada, you know, 10% of Phoenix in the winter is from Canada and so my practice is probably 30% senior citizens snowbird’s, things like that. You look at their swollen hands, you look at their rheumatism, you look at their joint pain and grabbing onto a manual toothbrush and really making a lot, I mean, that just doesn’t work. I think a lot of dentists, especially younger dentists don’t realize that, you know, electric toothbrush is just better than a manual toothbrush, but I mean, is that supported in the research? What are your thoughts on that?
Ben: Yeah, so that’s a great question, and our view is, you can do a pretty good job with a manual toothbrush and people like you and all your listeners probably do an amazing job but you guys are literally the experts when it comes to brushing teeth. People like myself not an expert, and I would go to the dentist and would have whatever issue, gums that may have bled too easily, or a number of other issues and that comes out of the bad brushing habits. And electric toothbrushes fix a lot of those common mistakes, whether it is not brushing for long enough, people think that brushing for 20 seconds does the job and the reality is, you need to spend a little more time or using the incorrect technique, or not focusing on your entire mouth, just doing a single quadrant. That is where GOBY comes in and fixes those common issues, and it really delivers a better cleaning experience. Now if you want to dig in further, there was a study conducted by the Cochrane Institute and they went through something like 50 trials over the last 20-years, and they concluded that rotationally oscillating brush heads have consistently shown to be more effective than any other type of toothbrush. That is the same type of motion that GOBY uses, we also only use soft bristles, no medium or hard and then also one of the really big value points of what we offer people is our subscription service that solves the problem of people not changing their brush heads frequently enough. On average we have seen, the research we saw showed that people change their brush heads every nine months, our subscription solves that and our customers love that component of the business.
Howard: I have to tell you that at 54-years of life, I have never been in any other person’s bathroom in my entire life and their toothbrush was completely non-working, bristles free, I mean, some of these toothbrushes look like, my God, did you loan this to a mechanic. You know, has he been cleaning carburettors with this thing, I mean, it is just, it is not even close, it’s not like you’re holding the toothbrush up and saying, because with bristles it’s really bizarre. They almost have to be perfectly straight to pry the plague off and when they just slightly fray at all, the research shows that they don’t work nearly as well. Yet when you go into people’s bathroom, the bristles look like a monsoon just hit the beach and there’s palm trees everywhere, I mean, it is not even close. You go in there and I come out and say, you know, I know you guys will use that brush for another year or so, I want you to know that I threw all the one’s away that do nothing, so if you’re going to brush with that just put some toothpaste on your finger and rub it around because nothing’s happening. So I really love this subscription ad because I bet you most Americans are going to get them in the mail, they paid for them so they’re going to go and switch them out because they’re never going to do it for another reason because that’s not their competency, that’s not their expertise, they’re not aware that their bristles is not working anymore, so I think that’s a huge plus.
Ben: Yeah, and what we found is that people aren’t inherently against changing the brush heads, you just don’t know, right, it’s a guessing game, you have like this little blue indicator bristles but it is not actually when they’re completely gone and there’s just a little blue left, well, it is actually like half way and that’s imperfect, too. Because depending on the toothpaste you use that can wear it down quicker and it just solves it and people love it and they want to be changing their brush heads more frequently, they just don’t think about it, it just doesn’t come to mind.
Howard: So you’re obviously to start a new company, a new brand, to get picked up in GQ and Vogue and all the other magazines, I’ve been on the cover of but you’re marketing expertise, you’re talking about GOBY dental portal, the perfect partner for your practice. Ask how you can help, how can this GOBY.CO drive new patients to any of my homies listening to you today?
Ben: That’s a great question, so we’ve been partnering with a lot of new dentists, a lot of these forward-thinking dentists who use GOBY almost as a new patient, promotion or welcome to the practice. It’s really elevating the experience for their patients both in the office, and then when they leave and it’s a great way of building word of mouth and getting more positive reviews on the practice. One thing that we also offer some of our partners is the ability to print the practice information on the back of the brush, and it’s just a much more elevated version of the cheap manual toothbrush that you would historically giveaway.
Howard: So how do they find out more about this?
Ben: So you can go to our website goby.co and then there is a link to a dentist on there, or you can shoot me an email directly, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re happy to help out, we’ve been partnering with dentists all over the US and it’s really been a great partnership. We offer for consumers what we think is a really affordable price point, but on top of that we have additional professional pricing that we offer our dental partners.
Howard: Nice, so this is going to make premium oral care more accessible, so are you going to do any other oral care products, I mean, I remember Mark Cuban would be asking you, is this the start and end all what would be down the line?
Ben: Yes, it’s a great question, so on the consumer side we will be seeing additional products like our customers are asking for us to launch things like toothpaste, so we’re working on other products like that. We really want to make sure that we’re delivering a great product and great experience, so there are additional products like that, and then on the dental side we want to continue to build out ways that we can help those practices out. One of the new features that we’re adding to our site is a way for the practice to... we give the practices their patients their first brush head free, so it feels like, really special coming from the practice. But we want to find other ways of helping them build or grow their practice and we’re building on different pieces of that portal over time, too, so we just want to be a value-added partner to your listeners.
Howard: So it sounds like you want to work mostly with the dentists as opposed the retailers like Walmart and Target and Walgreens?
Ben: Today those aren’t stores that we’re interested in, for us it is really, we want to have as direct of relationships as possible, so through our website that’s great because we’re able to interact directly with our customers if they ever have any issues or with dentists or orthodontists or any dental professionals. Again, we have these very personal relationships, and as you start going through these other channels, you lose those personal relationships but then there’s also additional mark ups that are going to make the products more expensive, and so we’re trying to avoid that today.
Howard: So yeah, I think that is a big Mark Cuban, I mean, he wants to invest in people online direct to the consumer, he doesn’t want to go the retail route. I mean, that is just a huge extra added cost, I mean, the only secret to lower price is lower cost and by not having a middleman by disintermediating the middleman. Does that mean you also probably don’t want to go through Amazon?
Ben: That is not something we want to work with today, again the same point is going through those other channels.
Howard: What do those channels normally mark up on a price? iI you were to go through Walmart, or Walgreens or Amazon, what kind of margins, what would that do to your cost, what do you think they would market up at?
Ben: I’m not sure, to be honest, you know, I think traditional markups are anywhere from 30 to 50% and that’s not an insignificant amount, and so for us we really focused on being able to deliver the best price and best value for our partners and customers.
Howard: Yeah, and toothpaste is a bizarre thing because when you look at the research, I mean, if you brush properly for two minutes you don’t need any, if you have soft, straight bristles and you brush for two minutes, you remove the plague. But the consumers don’t like dry brushing because they like whiter, brighter, sexier, they wake up with morning breath and they want to have, you know, the morning breath go away. So it’s almost like the flavouring agents and the zing and the Listerine, whatever it is, they’re trying to get rid of morning breath is what I’m trying to say. But I notice a lot of the consumers in my office like the ones that try to go natural, like Uncle Tom is natural. They don’t realize that it is owned by one of the largest toothpaste companies in the world, and they sit there and say, well, how is this natural because the natural crowd wants five ingredients or less and they want to know what all the ingredients are. Then you go to like Uncle Toms and it’s a whole list of all these chemicals, and so it just, you can’t have a toothpaste play with a bunch of chemicals on the side of your deal if you’re playing to the Uncle Toms All Natural. All Natural doesn’t have, you know, it shouldn’t have to be a biochemist to know what’s in the All Natural.
Howard: So the toothpaste, my advice would be, you need to keep it to five ingredients or less and all the ingredients have to be things that sound natural.
Ben: Yeah, what kind of toothpaste do you use today?
Howard: What do I use?
Howard: God, I just use, what do we use right now? Colgate Total. I mean, my biggest hatred of the toothpaste deal is those unscrew lids, you know, the cap on the toothpaste and they always clog up and you squeezing and they’re just such junk. But I’ve got that new type, what’s that new type, can you go grab it there? I got a new type and I’ve been using this new type for two reasons, number one I don’t think the toothpaste matters at all, in fact I know it doesn’t dry, brushing is all you need. But I like this new dispenser of how it comes out soft and it hasn’t clogged up one time, and the crust and the Colgate, I mean, especially the crust for kids, and all the sparkle crap. Yeah, so I’ve been using this, I’ve been using mint, here it is, mint smile.
Howard: Mint Smile by Power Mint because I have this flip off cap and look at that, there’s no crap. But the Colgate and the crap, it is just always, I mean, I always have to take toilet paper off the toilet role and take of some dry crusty, goober crap, and then it’s crusting inside the tube, I mean, it’s just not made to come out.
Ben: Sure, we will definitely keep that in mind as we develop our toothpaste.
Howard: Also, I was involved heavily in 1989 and just a few years ago on fluoridating the Phoenix water, and one fourth of Phoenix think that fluoride is toxic, it’s a communist plot, it’s just bad, and I see the same thing in toothpaste. So if I come out with a toothpaste, I would have an All Natural toothpaste that didn’t have fluoride in there, and if that upset dentists I would just say, well, first of all, you don’t need any toothpaste to remove the plague to cause the gum disease, so it’s all a wash anyway but the research is clear, if you brush with fluoridated toothpaste, children have something like 26% less decay or something like that. So there is for children brushing with a fluoride toothpaste have less decay but I believe that one fourth of Americans want an All-Natural toothpaste without fluoride, and three out of four want fluoride and at the end of the day they all just want whiter, brighter, sexier teeth. But I would have an All-Natural without fluoride because that is one fourth of the market, and when you look at the country as 325 million people, shit, one fourth of the market, I mean, what is one fourth of 325 million, I’ll find out what it is, I have this new app on my phone that has a calculator. 325 million times, .25, that is 81 million. Shit, if 81 million people think fluoride is a communist plot, I mean, as a health care provider, I can’t change your mind in religion, politics or fluoride, I mean, there’s many things. Hell, in my own family there are just so many things you just agree to disagree on but if you’re a dentist and you’re not going to use this toothpaste because it has got fluoride in it, well, then, I’ve got to help you. That means I need to come out with a toothpaste that didn’t have fluoride in it, that’s just, you know, just like the people that are against fluoridated water, I tell them, well, don’t drink the Phoenix water, don’t drink out of a garden hose, go get bottle water, I drink bottled water. The reason why I’m so adamant about water fluoridation is because the poor people who can’t afford bottled water, they’re the ones that can’t afford dental insurance, they’re the ones that can’t afford a root canal and a crown. So if you’re middle class, quit bitching about water fluoridation, just go buy your bottled water because if I come back to you and say, well, can I raise your taxes to provide free dentistry for the poor, they say, hell no, and I say, okay, well, a dollar per person for water fluoridation will prevent a cavity per person and a cavity per person is at least $150-dollars. So if you’re not going to pay for the $150-dollar cavity to be filled with a filling, well, then pay for a dollar to put the water in the fluoride per person, and so middle class and rich in Phoenix. I mean, hell, the Phoenix water tastes like garbage, I mean, it tastes like it came out of the sewer, I mean, really out in Kansas where the water out of the garden hose tastes as good as the bottled water here. But the Phoenix water comes on a canal all the way from the Colorado River up by the big Hoover Dam in Las Vegas, by the time it gets here it tastes like, you know, it’s just.
Ben: I don’t remember it being particularly clear when I was out there.
Howard: Yeah, well, how did you get out to ASU because you were born in Rutherford New Jersey which is what, right across from Manhattan on the New Jersey side, so what made you go out all the way to ASU?
Ben: That’s a good question, so I wanted to, coming out of high school I wanted to go to a big, big school somewhere far away, somewhere different and just be exposed to a lot of new experiences and ASU fit that description, and I made my way out to the desert and enjoyed my four years out there. I unfortunately, or fortunately never spent any summers when I was going to ASU, I usually had some internships so I’d miss like the full summer experience but I was there in August and get to feel the heat then.
Howard: So you know, I always thought the funniest thing about New Yorkers is when they come out to the valley, they always love Scottsdale, if they’re not from New York or New Jersey, say they’re from Minnesota, North or South Dakota, you know, they got to Glendale, Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, they go to the whole valley. You can take it to the bank New Yorkers and New Jersey, it is always Scottsdale they think.
Ben: Just hanging out in the old town.
Howard: Yeah, I wonder why they love Scottsdale, ten to one over anyone from Minnesota. Anybody like ASU?
Ben: Yeah, it’s great.
Howard: If you sell a hundred million of these toothbrushes, are you going to get a home out in Scottsdale, too, for the winters?
Ben: Yeah, hundred million, I think I could do that then.
Howard: You think you could do that then?
Howard: So how long have you been live and how are sales going, and how’s all that doing?
Ben: It’s been, so we launched back in October 2016, you know, so nine months ago, and when we launched, it was just focused on the consumer side and we mentioned this earlier, we were pretty fortunate to receive some great media coverage and that actually drew up a lot of inbound interest from dentists. So over the last three months we have really been building up that side of the business and finding ways that we can be a great partner. It is great that we have these two customer bases that really love the product and the subscription.
Howard: What are these two customer bases?
Ben: So the direct to consumer and then to our dental partners.
Howard: Direct to consumer, you call that direct to consumer, is that also B to C or?
Howard: It’s direct to consumer to, you’ve got direct to consumer and then you got a B to B, you got a B to C on the website and then you got a B to B through the dental partner. You know, Dental Town has a quarter million dentists and hygienists, we have 52 categories, one of them is hygiene and under hygiene you should start a thread, every business is allowed, everybody can have one thread that says where they going to lecture next or their online courses, whatever. But you should go in there under, let’s say hygiene flossing, fluoride, halitosis, hygiene discussions, hygiene hand instruments, scaling toothbrush, toothbrushes manual and electric. You should start a thread on toothbrushes manual, electric and if you’re embarrassed because you think it is self-promotional, just say you just did a podcast day with Howard and then when we post his podcast we’ll just drop in that thread. Just say, Howard wanted me to come and tell you what I’m doing, because I think that this is a neat play, it reminds me of the dollar shave club and I say whenever there is only two people in there, Gillette and Schick, for razors they’re expensive. Duracell and Energizer for batteries is too expensive, Oral B and Sonicare, it’s kind of oligopoly, when two player, when one person has all the market, it’s a monopoly, when two people have the majority of the markets, it’s an oligopoly, and you’re this new low cost business model that’s disintermediating the middleman selling directly to the consumer from your website, and I like this description where you know nobody, most all the toothbrushes being used this morning around the world are non-functional because they’re all worn down, the bristles are frayed. You almost never see a working toothbrush in anyone’s bathroom, so you should get on Dentaltown and talk about it.
Ben: Yeah, we definitely will. We’re definitely trying to spread the word in the dental community, we’re pretty new so Dentaltown is a great way to get in front of a lot of smart dental practices.
Howard: Yeah. So you got a lot of initial press in GQ and Vogue, and how did that go?
Ben: It’s good, it’s a great way of building up some initial brand awareness and since then a lot of growth is coming just word of mouth, our customers telling their friends about it, you know, you look at our Facebook reviews, I’m still blown away by the reception, it is basically only five stars and people telling us how they go to the dentist for the first time after switching to GOBY and their teeth have literally never looked so clean, this is the words of the dentists, so that has been amazing to see, it’s just the reception from consumers and the different dental partners.
Howard: So you know, the dental partners, when you start that thread, whenever there’s a thread, there’s a button there forward, so you can forward that link to, that thread to dentists. You should mail that to your forward thinking dental practices to see if they can climb in on that thread and share their experience. Any dentists that I would know, or are they all around the New York, New Jersey area?
Ben: All over, do you know the guys at Lydian Dental, they’re in Arizona.
Howard: Lydian Dental, can you find that for me?
Ben: They’re a really nice modern practice.
Howard: How do you spell Lydian?
Howard: They’ve been using you guys for?
Ben: Yeah, they’ve been a great partner, they’re some partners in New York, California, number in Texas, couple in Florida, it’s really, at this point it is really all over the US.
Howard: Is there any non-US, is there any in Canada or anywhere else?
Ben: Today we’re only focused on the US, in the future we may expand to our neighbours up north.
Howard: Are you target marketing America or are there logistical issues on the website where you really don’t want to do business in Canada?
Ben: It’s a combination of both, but really what it comes down to is we really just want to be focused, it’s not like we, we’re very early stages and we have made the smallest of dents in the US markets and there is a lot of opportunity to grow there before we need to go rush into other countries.
Howard: Right. Usually when you talk to the CEO of any dental companies around the world, they’ll tell you the United States is 40% of their business, I remember in the beginning when Patterson went public in the very beginning [unclear 32:17] was the one who took it public, and Henry Schein was branching out all over the world and he just, he said, look, for the first decade or two, he goes, there’s more business in America, we don’t need to go anywhere else, and I think Patterson was probably a 20-year old company before they even went to Canada.
Howard: He said there’s 211 000 Americans who have an active license to practice dentistry, why would we need to go to Australia with 20 000 dentists or Canada with, I think, how many does Canada have, 35 000 dentists, something like that. Yeah, America is just such a huge market, yeah, I found that Lydian Dental, her last tweet was “ if a patient cannot clean his teeth, no dentist can do it for him” and that speaks volumes of truth, doesn’t it?
Ben: Yeah, they’re really interesting guys, they have maybe two or three offices now but it’s very modern.
Howard: Who’s that, Lydian Dental?
Howard: Oh, my God, they have locations in Arizona and Texas, holy moly, Josh Turnbull, oh, I know Josh, I had to see his face for it all to ring a bell, okay, very good. So Josh Turnbull’s in on this, he’s a pretty smart guy.
Howard: Go ahead?
Ben: Yeah, I was just saying, they’re just taking that really forward-thinking approach to dental care and really trying to optimize for the best patient experience, and that’s how we found a really good fit partner. We really focus on delivering great experiences.
Howard: Now is he using it as an economic incentive for a new patient or is this for Crumpet, how is he actually using it?
Ben: Yeah, so I think they use it as a new patient welcome to the practice, almost like a promotion. But as part of their, elevating their experience when a patient comes into the practice for the first time.
Howard: Well, I just emailed you at email@example.com and cc’d Josh and that will be neat if Josh could go on Dentaltown and post exactly how he uses it, does he use it on his flyers, is the promo piece on his website. I mean, the logistics, how he is using this to promote to the patients?
Ben: I think they’ve done flyers with GOBY potentially in the past, they seem to be pretty sharp marketers, too, and so I think they’ve tested a couple of different channels but I don’t know the exact specifics of what they’re doing with it today.
Howard: Well, see if you can sweet talk him into sharing his secret sauce on the website.
Ben: Yeah, absolutely.
Howard: I mean, marketing dentists, they always want more new patients, I mean, there are so many dentists who believe that the patient flow equals cash flow, and no matter how messed up your office is, no matter how dysfunctional your team is, no matter how horrible your hours are, I mean, you can just erase all your problems if you just keep getting in 20-30 new patients a month.
Howard: They don’t seem to want to focus on fixing any of their structural problems to keep their patients for life, and by the time the average dentist gets to 5000 patients, 4000 of them are inactive and are gone, but so instead of really focusing on five-star customer service, every single patient, every single day, like the Ritz Carlton, they just, it’s just a lot easier strategy to say, I’m just really going to get an A in marketing and just keep a flood of new patients coming in. Even though four out of five will never come back.
Ben: Yeah, I think their approach is they’re new so they obviously have to get new patients in their door, but it also seems like once they’re in the door, make sure the patients don’t leave and that’s by [unclear 36:26]
Howard: So how long did it take you to design this toothbrush?
Ben: Nearly two years, so I started working on this probably, the initial idea came up in November 2014 and it was a long process in building a great product and getting some really smart people on board to help develop the product.
Howard: I mean, every detail from like the bristles, I mean, that’s a science in itself.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve actually gone and visited the factory in Germany where the bristles come from. Gorgeous factory up there, they’re doing an amazing job. It’s all automated, it’s a sight to see.
Howard: So is your toothbrush made in Germany?
Ben: Assembly happens in Southern Asia but our components come from all over. Bristles come from Germany, our motors are from a Japanese company. Then we have a warehouse here in the US that we do our [unclear 37:20]
Howard: In Southern Asia, what’s that, Cambodia, Malaysia?
Ben: No, in China.
Howard: Oh, okay, Southern China?
Howard: Near Shenzhen?
Howard: Yeah, I love that place, I love Shenzhen. So do you go there often?
Ben: I’ve been there a number of times, not as much now, we have a team out there actually based in Hong Kong, they’re way smarter than me and they know what they’re doing.
Howard: Yeah, so that is a long flight from New York to, how long is New York to Hong Kong?
Ben: I think it’s like 16 hours, I’ve gotten way more comfortable with that flight than I would like, last year I was out there a ton.
Howard: Yeah, that is a long flight, I just flew 16 hours yesterday from Sydney to LA and then had to connect an hour to Phoenix. I like China, I really do, I mean, when I got to Hong Kong and I got to Shenzhen, it seems like they love Americans, they’re all nice, they’re all working, they’re all clean, I think it is one of the greatest civilizations around?
Ben: Yeah, they’re really good, there are some really talented manufacturers out there that deliver some amazing products. That’s where Apple products come from, they’re just really good manufacturers, and they have all these resources around them that help deliver, to focus on delivering these great products. Now it helps to have experience in navigating those through those manufacturers, that’s why we have our team out there because if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can go south very quickly.
Howard: What do you mean by that?
Ben: If you don’t have the right quality controls in place, things can, you may look good at first but quality can slip over time, it’s just making sure you have people on the ground and really focused on constantly improving the product.
Howard: The funniest thing I think about China, I am going to put you on the spot, okay, China has a 3000-year history with 13 dynasties, name one of the dynasties?
Ben: The Hung Ming Dynasty?
Howard: There’s the Zea Dynasty, Shang Dynasty, Chow, Quinn, [unclear 39:48] but the point I am making is this, going all the way back, no American can name any of their Emperors from their 13-dynasties. In my experience, when I’m talking to Chinese Dentists, same thing, not one of them could name one US President, not one of them would know who George Washington is. But it is so funny, so I would get to this and I would say what do you think of, like when I say I am from the United States of America, like what do you think of when I say United States of America, and they all say the same thing, they all mention food things, they say Hershey’s Bar, Coca Cola, Pepsi, they only name things you can eat. It is so hilarious, that is their association with America, we just make great things to eat and they don’t know who George Washington is and American dentists can name one of the 13 dynasties from China. But gosh, damn, man, those people, they just seem to all be smiling, all be happy, they’re just so nice, so helpful, it is truly one of the greatest civilisations that I have ever visited and I love that place.
Ben: Have you been out there recently?
Howard: Yeah, I’ve lectured for Modern Dental and also their dental school in Hong Kong is the most intelligent dental school, because in America the number one cost is labour 28%, number two is lab at 10% and the American dental schools have all closed down their laboratory chain. So all these laboratories, imagine what would happen to dentistry if there were no hygienists, and what would happen if all the dental schools would stop graduating hygienists, and the dental school in Hong Kong, they have twice as many students in the dental laboratory diploma degree as they do the dental degree. I mean, they’re very forward-thinking, I mean, the secret to building a great manufacturing economy, you know, like in America, all the colleges are based on teaching your degrees in English and Philosophy and Law and Social Studies and all this crap. You go to Germany and Japan, they’re very focused on the trade, so they would be just as serious in Germany and China after high school teaching you how to be an electrician, a plumber or construction, you know, all the trades and those kids come out of school, and if you want to be a welder, a plumber or any of these things, they’re just as serious about teaching you how to be a plumber as America is on teaching you how to get a marketing degree and be a lawyer. So I just think there are a lot of lessons America can learn from China. So anything else you want to talk about, did you cover all your basis or did I miss anything or?
Ben: Yeah, I think one thing that we haven’t mentioned, you know, is as part of our goal of making premium oral care more accessible, we obviously price GOBY as affordable as possible but, you know, we also do donate a portion of our sales to dentistry programs that help provide dentistry to people both domestically and abroad, and right now we’re partnered up with NYU Statutory school, their global outreach program and they do an amazing job, so that is really helping us achieve our goal and just continuing to make premium oral care or just oral care more accessible to as many people as possible.
Howard: Nice, I didn’t even know NYU had a global dental outreach program?
Howard: It’s what?
Ben: It’s under their dentistry school.
Howard: So they send the dental students out around the world on missionary dental trips?
Ben: Yeah, they go everywhere from Nepal to Ghana, I believe, and also here in the US, too.
Howard: Now the dental school up the street from me here in Phoenix in Mesa is AT Still, it is amazing how they send kids to Mexico and Tanzania and they send them to all around the world, that is an interesting program. So do you know who the dentist that heads that up is or?
Ben: Yeah, Doctor Stewart Hirsch, actually he’s, I think he’s been running it for like 20-years.
Howard: Really? Well, that would be an amazing podcast, will you send him an email and cc me, firstname.lastname@example.org?
Ben: Sure, I’ll shoot him a note.
Howard: Because I’ve gone on some of the trips with the local AT Still students and I think it’s very spiritual, I mean, when you leave America and you think you’ve got all these stresses and you’re trying to be a dentist, and next thing you’re in a village with 5000 people that don’t have electricity, running water and sewage, and you start realising that you shouldn’t be as stressed as you think you are, life is better than you realise. Then to see those people down there, it’s just amazing, like when you go to Mexico and the mother’s line up in line with their babies with toothaches before the sun goes down and they stand there inline all night long waiting for just a chance to show their baby to a dentist from America. And a lot of those nights, those rains, it is just pounding rain all night and we’re sitting up there on the porch drinking beer, listening to music while you’re staring at hundreds of people standing in line, I mean, it’s just crazy. It’s just such a good spiritual reorientation of getting your head screwed back on right, and I always say when people get too detached and they’ve lost their focus and they’ve lost their meaning, and they don’t know what they’re doing or they not happy or whatever, they need to go to a third world country and fix teeth for five days, whether it’s in Haiti or Africa, or Central and South America, and they really come back with your head on straight. I have always taken at least one, two, three or sometimes all four of my boys with me and the first time I took them down on a Mexico trip, we were in this village of 5000 people, no electricity, no running water, no sewage and my oldest boy Eric was six, do you remember what he said? You remember, Eric looks around and he says to me, dad, how come they don’t have trampolines, and in his walnut brain all he saw that was missing was trampolines, he didn’t see that they were missing also everything else, he just noticed they were missing trampolines. I thought that was so damn cool that a six-year-old just saw the trampoline and not all the other things but. So anything else?
Ben: Yeah, I think we mentioned this at the beginning, we’re always looking for new dental partners and finding new ways that we can work together, and we want to always be as helpful as possible, so feel free to reach out to us through our website or you can also email me directly, my email is email@example.com. We’re really trying to expand within the dental community, and obviously Dental Town is a great outlet with a lot of really smart dental practices, they are engaged, I really appreciate you making time for a chat.
Howard: Well, hey, go into dental town and start the thread under hygiene and tell them how it is and when this comes out, Ryan, let’s drop this podcast in that thread and I think when I saw this, I reached out to you, you didn’t reach out to me, this isn’t a commercial, you didn’t pay for an advertisement. I reached out to you, I immediately thought of shark tank, I thought of the dollar shave club, I thought, kudos to you, this is great, and I wanted to jump out and help you, and I hope you crush it, it sounds like it is going to be fun and I also got to help my homie from ASU.
Ben: I really appreciate it all, and of course …
Howard: If you would have worked at ULA, I wouldn’t even have talked to you.
Ben: Yeah, you would just bash me on the whole show, you would have a show just bashing on the product.
Howard: Speaking of ULA, if you’ve got a kid and one of your kids doesn’t have any money and can’t get student loans, if you just drive real slow through Toulson, they’ll actually throw a UFA diploma in your back seat. Just keep your windows down, drive slow through Toulson, you get one of those, UFA you should be able to get on e-bay or Amazon for under a dollar.
Ben: It’s always great to have backup options.
Howard: Okay, well, congratulations on what you’re doing, I hope you crush it, buddy, and this was dentistry’s version of shark tank, getting you on the show, explaining to everybody why the community works and the only secret to lower price, lower cost disintermediating the distributor, the middleman, the Walgreens and the Walmarts and the all that stuff. Sell direct to your customer, I love that the changing the head subscription, I noticed that you can change your head, you can sign up for one, two or three months?
Ben: Yeah, we give the option, we don’t want to force people into anything and so we let people choose.
Howard: Yeah, but best of luck to you, buddy, I hope you crush it.
Ben: Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
Howard: Alright, have a good day.