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VIDEO - DUwHF #900 - Eva Sadej
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AUDIO - DUwHF #900 - Eva Sadej
Eva comes from a small town in Poland and the mean streets of Brooklyn. She comes from a family or doctors and nurses, and some may call her the “black sheep” of the family, who took an atypical route. She graduated from Harvard in 2012, and then worked at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. There, she was a product designer, an operations manager, and an investment researcher.
She came up with Floss Bar on a typical Saturday in Chinatown, where she was getting a massage, lunch, manicure, pedicure, facial, and haircut. The only thing missing was a good on-demand teeth cleaning! And she sought to find out why that was not readily available. She researched and realized that just hygiene alone is a multi-billion-dollar market in the US, not to mention other basic services she frequents. And little innovation has been done in that space.
Now at Wharton getting her MBA, she is especially passionate about confidence and self-esteem for business professionals. She sees improving the expedience, cost, and accessibility of health and beauty services as a step in the direction making others internally and externally beautiful. Via Floss Bar and in the future, other endeavors.
Howard: It is just a huge, huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Eva Sadej, founder and CEO of Floss Bar. She comes from a small town in Poland and the mean streets of Brooklyn. She comes from a family of doctors and nurses, and some may call her the "black sheep" of the family who took an atypical route. She graduated from Harvard in 2012 and then worked at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. There she was a product designer and operations manager and an investment researcher. She came up with the Floss Bar on a typical Saturday in Chinatown where she was getting a massage, lunch, manicure, pedicure, facial, haircut. The only thing missing was a good on-demand teeth cleaning! And she sought to find out why that was not readily available. She researched and realized that just the hygiene alone is a multi-billion Dollar market in the U.S., not to mention other basic services she frequents, and little innovation is done in that space. Now at Wharton getting her MBA, she's especially passionate about confidence and self-esteem for business professionals. She sees improving the expedience, cost and accessibility of health and beauty services as a step in the direction of making others internally and externally beautiful, via Floss Bar and in the future, other endeavors. Eva, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Eva: Thank you! I'm so happy to be here.
Howard: My g*d, you were smart enough to get into Harvard and Wharton MBA school. My g*d, you must be a freak brain genius.
Eva: I mean, my parents are proud but it's a lot of studying, so.
Howard: Man, if I applied to Harvard, they would laugh so hard, they'd probably have a heart attack just laughing that hard.
Eva: I meet other famous people like you.
Howard: My gosh. So, what is the mission of Floss Bar?
Eva: Yeah, so, there's a lot of problems in the industry which, as a consumer, I have experienced and so the mission is to fix them, and the mission's really to make basic dental services, like the bottom of the pyramid - your cleaning, your whitening, your Invisalign cases, your dental exams - all accessible, expedient and stress-free, and much lower cost than they currently are, because a lot of Americans are avoiding the dentist. They have insurance, they're under-utilizing it or they don't have insurance. And they're actually ending up in the Emergency Room in many cases with these dental issues. So, the point is a social mission, as well as Floss Bar is a profitable business - even by reducing the cost. So, that's really what it's all about.
Howard: So, yeah, 8 percent of Emergency Room visits are odontogenic in origin - tooth-related - and it's so bizarre how so many companies are just ruled by culture; like, I can go into any of these hospitals and get a tumor removed off my brain, I can have a broken arm or leg fixed, I can get a quadruple bypass, but they can't fix a tooth.
Howard: I mean, could you imagine if Walmart ... if the owner of Walmart said, "Well, 8 percent of our customers always ask for item X and we don't sell it." You don't sell something that 8 percent of your customers request? How do you explain that?
Eva: Well, maybe if it's illegal, you wouldn't sell it, but other than that you would.
Howard: I mean, it's just crazy. I mean, I can't tell you how many times in the last 30 years, on my day off, I took referral pads and went and visited every Emergency Room doctor and pharmacist because I couldn't believe how many people go up to the pharmacist and say, "What do you recommend for toothache? Do you recommend Orajel or Anbesol or what do you recommend?" And my pharmacists say, "What I recommend is you call this guy right now? Here's Howard here. Here's his office phone, his cell phone. You need to see a dentist!" Same thing in the Emergency Rooms, they just want to get rid of these people. They got all these people in the Emergency Room at triage. You got to work that triage lady to say that, "Really, this is all dental? You've got your iPhone right there. Why don't you call this number and see if they can see you, because I can tell you right now we don't do dental." And, I mean, it's just crazy. So, how long has the Floss Bar been out? What are my homies going to find if they go to your website, which is theflossbar.com?
Eva: Well, it's been out since May. We launched in May with 1 office, now we're up to 3 in New York City. So, it's been since May. I came up with it last October. I then sat on it for a while, kind of thought about it, talked to about 40 different people who either said, "Yeah!", or punched me in the face a number of times with very useful edits. So, you have to be strong! So, yeah, by May we were live, mostly friends and family, and opening it up to anyone who finds us. We didn't do too much marketing, but if you stumble upon us, "Hey, show up!" And so, now where we are is, we're done with this beta stage; we're ready to really scale at this point. We know what we're doing.
Howard: You're the first person in my entire life that said she had 3 offices in New York City. I always say that New York City doesn't exist, because they show you that on the map, but when you meet someone, and I say, "Do you live in New York City?", they go, "No! I live in Manhattan or Brooklyn or the Bronx or the Queens." And I'm like, you're the first person I've ever met that said they actually had a business in New York City. So, where in New York City is your business?
Eva: We have 3 locations. So, we've got Union Square, Chinatown and then Midtown, around 32nd Street.
Howard: So, it's all Manhattan?
Eva: It's all Manhattan, yeah.
Howard: Okay, it's all Manhattan. And so, what do these 3 locations ... are they ... like, when I go into some businesses, everyone looks the same. Some businesses, they're all different. Is this a cookie cutter ... do all 3 same shape, size, number of chairs? Describe what these stores look like.
Eva: Yeah, so, it's actually a pretty different business model than what you're describing. So, let me get practical not on what we sell but what the heck do we actually do. So, we are a lifestyle brand. Like, we're promoting patient power in the chair and we're promoting getting your basic dental services at very convenient times with no shaming, no upselling, none of the, you know, drama that makes people scared. And so, what we actually do is, we don't even buy our own offices. That's the key thing. So, when I'm saying 'offices', I'm talking about affiliate offices that have signed up with us. So, what we do is we say, "Hey, dentist, do you need more basic patients?" The dentist says, "Yes", we say, "Hey, we are a marketing company and a market place where we will bring those patients. We're actually also a staffing company, where we will bring the hygienist. You sit around, we'll kind of run that hygiene and whitening service for you. And in those chairs that you wouldn't be making money off of anyway, you're going to actually monetize that, and we'll be a filter for you to see if anyone needs more advanced work." So, it's the two principles here: it's the spare capacity empty chairs and then it's those hygienists that we bring, the mid-level providers. So, we actually do ... so, just to answer your thing about what do they look like. We pimp them out, like, when we're working we've got our sign, we've got our music, our blue lights. We really standardize the experience, but all the offices are different offices.
Howard: Damn! And you're only 26.
Eva: Yeah, yeah.
Howard: Damn, you are moving fast and furious! You've already gone through Harvard and Wharton. You started this idea in October. You've already got 3 locations. Now is this one of those lifestyle brands that will work in New York City but not Oklahoma City?
Eva: I don't know much about the demographics of Oklahoma City but just think of any American city, maybe it's smaller than New York City, say it's Boston or something like that. Our demographic is yuppies, I guess. Business professionals, say, you know, 20, 22, just came out of college, left their parents' wing or so, up to 35 year olds. That's really it. And people who don't have much time to, say, go during the day or wait for a bunch of weeks. And, so, that demographic exists everywhere.
Howard: Wow, I haven't heard that term in a long time! Yuppies. Is a yuppie the same as a Millennial?
Howard: So, is yuppies just a play on puppies? Just a young puppy, it's a yuppie?
Eva: There might be some minor difference there, like a yuppie is usually wealthier for some reason, but I think I probably just mean Millennial, because we're pretty affordable, so we don't need wealthy people necessarily.
Howard: And what are ... when someone affiliates with you, how do you change their business model, starting with hours, would you ... like, what is your business genius ... what do you think hours should be?
Eva: Yeah, so, I think most people want hours that are either before their day job. So, think of their 9 to 5 as the shaved off part -they have to go to work. Now they have before hours that they would like, and then they have the after-hours that they'd like. Plus, you know, some, you know, investment bankers also work weekends, but most of us don't and, so, the dental offices are actually usually closed then. And, so, what we do is that we ensure those hours are open. We make sure those are staffed.
Howard: And what hours do your 3 affiliates ... what hours are they open now?
Eva: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and then noon to 7 on weekends.
Howard: Noon to 7 on weekends?! That is the one thing I ... Saturday and Sunday?
Howard: You know, that is one thing I've noticed about New York City that's so different than where I grew up in Kansas, it seems like in New York everybody starts later and stays up half the night, whereas in the Midwest, we get up at the crack of dawn and when the sun goes down, we start winding down and are in bed asleep by 9.
Howard: That is one huge cultural difference about Manhattan. I mean, I know, the only dental offices I know on Earth that don't even open until 10:00 in the morning are all in Manhattan. But they might ... but they'll work 10 to 8, where in Kansas they'll work 8 to 5.
Eva: Interesting. Yeah, so, I would vary my hours, I guess, based on the demand of the Midwest if I was there. And not even if - when I'm there.
Howard: So, you're going to be going to an office that's open Monday through Thursday, 8 to 5, and you're going to start bringing in hygienists and operating it from 7 a.m. til when they would open at 9, and then when they close at 5, you're going to keep it open from 5 to 9. And then when they're closed on Saturday and Sunday, you're going to open it up from 12 to 7.
Howard: And 3 affiliates later, how is your business model working?
Eva: It's working well. The demand is there. I'd say, right now we're growing pretty linearly in terms of improving. Patients are not yet like this because I'm no marketing genius. So, I've got to get some of those - hopefully from school - but the demand is there. The Yelp reviews are 5 stars. We've got about 6 hygienists trained, lots of hours open, no problems. We also ... we were very meticulous about making sure what we're doing is legal. This is a litigious industry, I think you know, and, so, we made sure to get it vetted by 2 big law firms - the whole business model down to the edge case details. And, so, the business was like, "Uh-oh, one said yes, but look at all these edge cases", and now, with the green light from both, I mean, it's going phenomenally well.
Howard: The dental industry is very, very stodgy. The only other industry I can compare it to is, like, the Southern Baptist Convention. They don't take kindly to anything new or innovations or anything that rocks the boat. How is your ... how has the dental society viewed this in Manhattan?
Eva: Oh, g*d! I mean, I'm getting hate mail. Oh, I mean, if you're not getting hate mail, you're not, you know, pissing someone off, you're not doing anything interesting, I guess, but can't poke the wrong bear these days. The dentists that we work with love it. They're really happy. We're a collaborator, not a competitor. We're feeding them customers. We're, you know, monetizing their chairs. But others, you know, they have concerns. I mean, the main one I get is, "Hey, you're not a dentist. What are you doing? Like, you're a business person first. You're going to compromise on patient care. You're going to make sure that they're only getting services from you." You know, all of these things and, so, that's an annoying one because, sure, I'm not a dentist but, you know, someone with a business mind can work with dentists to get this done. So, that's the one that's most difficult to argue, because that's an ethical argument, but. The other one I get is, "Hey, what you're doing is reducing the standard of care. Why aren't these people seeing the dentist?" And, so, I've got to explain that one and how the model works. I mean, some ... if I get too many and they're aggressive, I don't respond. If they're actually an interesting debate, then I keep going. I'm a little bit of an instigator, so, it's kind of fun.
Howard: You know, dentists will tell me that, you know, they're a pioneer and all this, and everything, I mean, when I got out of school 30 years ago, there were the early guys placing dental implants, when they had a case that failed and went before the Board, a lot of times they had their entire dental license taken away. I look at all the most serious innovators in dentistry, they've all been sued multiple times. So, if you're out there listening and you think you're an innovator, and you're a genius, and you're all that and a bag of tricks, and you've never been sued, you know, there's no arrows in your back, I mean, in a social animal sapiens, if you climbed the tree to the highest, they're all going to throw rocks and shoot arrows at you. So, if you've never been sued and they've never threatened your license and you haven't got any hate mail, you're sure as hell not an innovator or a pioneer. So, congratulations on getting hate mail from my beloved homies. They are a conservative bunch - very, very conservative.
Eva: They are.
Howard: Yeah. And what's funny is they ... what's weird is ... I always tell my boys to remember, you know, the number one trait of a human being is that they can rationalize anything. Every one of those dentists, you'll say, "Is your dental office all about you, or is it all about the patient?" "Oh, it's all about the patient." "What are your hours?" "Monday to Thursday, 8 to 5." "Oh, okay, they can't even leave to go to work then." You know, I mean, it's like every decision they make is dentro-centric, but they look at you with these big, brown Bambi eyes, and you can tell they totally believe they're patient-centric, and all their behavior, it kind of reminds me of marketing - and the one thing I've always thought about marketing is the genius marketers always spin their worst trait, like Raisin Bran has no raisins. So, what's your advertising? There's two scoops of raisins in every box. The only 2 countries that know how to make a car are Japan and Germany. They never talk about warranties on Japan and Germany, but an American car is sh*t. So, what do they say? "We have a warranty, bumper to bumper, guaranteed to drive a 100,000 miles." It's almost like when any human or any company is telling you whatever feature they tell you about how great they are, you immediately know that's their worst fricken feature.
Eva: Mm-hmm. Yeah, 'cause they're in ...
Howard: We have a quality car and we won the J.D. Power Associates Award 6 years in a row. I'm sitting there thinking, "Oh, your car must really suck. One more reason to buy Japan or Germany." If they say, "Two scoops of raisins in every box", I say, "Maybe I should buy a box of raisins to pour in this damn box 'cause it won't have any raisins." So, when a dentist tells you, "Man, we are so patient-centered!" I immediately think, "Okay, I would hate to be your patient, because I can't get into see you, your hours. I have to wait 2 weeks to get in." It's a very interesting human trait.
Eva: You know, another thing on that topic that I like to rant as well. I think there's a demographic or socioeconomic problem going on between dentists and their patients. So, if you think of, okay, you know, this guy who's a dentist, great, phenomenal dentist, but, you know, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and, you know, I can't get an appointment, and then I got to leave work and then rush back and, you know, I can, if I'm a contractor I'm losing money, I'm losing hours, and this guy, you know, is driving out in his amazing BMW, while I'm scrambling to go back to work after he told me I need a $10,000 oral surgery. I mean, am I going to believe him, am I going to come back? I think that's one of the problems. Like, dentistry has become ... dentists have become disliked by patients and there's an actual real economic gap from the average American and the average dentist, which I think makes communication and trust very difficult.
Howard: Oh, yeah, and they're always whining on Dentaltown about how, you know, they only make $175,000 a year. I'm like, "Dude, the median household income of everybody in the house combined is under 50,000. So, you're crying a river that you make what all the people in 3 and a half homes make. And I'm supposed to feel sorry for you?" And they almost think that if they're not going to make $300,000 a year, that Mother Teresa and Gandhi should come and help them throughout the day.
Eva: Wait, wait. To be clear, though, I mean, they just invested a lot in education and, you know, they're doing important work. Like, I actually don't blame them for how much they make. I mean, as a person who worked at a hedge fund, like, I'm guilty of, you know, being multiples the average American. It's really just the factor of who their customer is and how they can relate.
Howard: So, what's the future of the Floss Bar? How can someone become an affiliate?
Eva: They talk to me.
Howard: Are you looking for more affiliates now or are you on this ... I mean, Southwest Airlines took ... I mean, I remember when I was in Wichita, the state of Kansas every year would call Southwest Airlines and say, "We will buy the $50 million brand new Boeing 737 300 if you come to Wichita", and they'd say, "That's not the reason we're not coming to Wichita." We can only grow at a certain healthy rate with our team and all that. So, are you ... where are you at in your growth rate? I mean, could you take on a bunch more affiliates? Would you only want them in Manhattan for now and then your next would be Queens and the Bronx and Brooklyn, or would you take an affiliate right now in Beverly Hills?
Eva: Yeah, so, I'm at the phase, like I said, we've finished our beta phase and we know what we're doing, as much as, you know, you can. I'll take primarily anyone in New York and around New York. But, over the next 3, 4 years, I want to expand across the country. There's no reason this model can't just go stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp in every single State. So, yeah, if people reach out to me, I'll put some of them on the back burner, but some of them in my pipe immediately.
Howard: And how would they contact you? Would they go to just, is it flossbar.com or theflossbar.com?
Eva: I own both. I had to pay some Dutch bar to get flossbar.com. They were aggressive.
Howard: You had to pay a bar?
Eva: Uh-huh. In the Netherlands.
Howard: A drinking bar?
Eva: Yeah, they were flossbar.com and they sold it for a couple of thousand Dollars to me.
Howard: Why did they ... why did an alcohol bar establishment call themselves Floss Bar?
Eva: I have no idea. I couldn't read the page because it was not in English. Yeah.
Howard: Well, one thing I did when I got to town, you know, the humans have a hard time with numbers, hard time with math, but they're very good visually with faces. They recognize your face at the party, they come back to you and they go, "I'm sorry. What was your name again?" And you go, "Eva Sadej." They remembered your face, they didn't remember your name. So, when I got into town, I called 893Gums, I called 893Grin, I called 893Care - C-A-R-E - and all 3 times a little old lady answered the phone and I said, "I've got to have your number", and so I bought those numbers because just one more easy way to remember. And, but, so, they go to theflossbar.com or just flossbar.com and contact you there? What about ... do you give out email or phone number?
Eva: Yeah, I mean, I won't give out my phone number, my personal one, because it'll ring in class, but my email is just eva - E-V-A - @theflossbar.com. Pretty simple.
Howard: And you were born in Poland? How old were you when you came to the United States?
Eva: I was 3.
Howard: Okay, so that's why you've got an American accent. I was wondering. Do you ever get back to Poland?
Eva: Yeah, yeah. A couple of times. No, I've got, let's see, 37 family members - so, from aunts, uncles and their Roman Catholic children, I've got seriously a squad of people that, I guess, I love. I love them, yeah.
Howard: I think that country is like 98 percent Catholic. Is it still that way?
Howard: Big shout out, my favorite dentist in the whole world is Marcin Dolecki, from Warsaw, Poland. Have you ever met Marcin?
Howard: He is the most free-thinking, entrepreneur dentist I've ever seen in my life. He is just, my g*d, he's so damn cool. I love lecturing in Warsaw. It is so, so cool, and I've tried to bring some of those Polish things to the areas of Phoenix and they won't even talk to about it. Like, you go down to the ... some of the greatest bar streets in, like, Kansas City, like ... I forget what they call it, but anyway in Phoenix, Mill Avenue. In Poland, they closed those streets down, brick patio and have little tables and chairs and umbrellas, and it's so much nicer bar district. You go to all these bar districts in all these American towns. Like, even 2nd Avenue on Nashville, one of the greatest streets in the world, or Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and the whole screwed-up experience is all this congested traffic trying to get down the street with all these people walking around, and they need to get rid of all the cars on Second Avenue, Bourbon Street, West Point in Kansas City, Mill Avenue in Tempe. They could really ... this country could really learn a lot by bringing culture from these thousand year old civilizations in Europe down into Phoenix. Where in Phoenix in 1940 only had 60,000 people, now it has 3.8 million, and they just don't have a tenth of the culture. So, what is the contract? If I wanted to ... do you ... you don't buy the dental office? What is it, a management fee, is it a contract? What's the fees? How's the MBA business side of it work?
Eva: Yeah, so, I'm not going to disclose all of that on the podcast, because maybe I need different deals per. But, basically, it's 3 different things people want. So, either they want me to just market - you'll take the customers - and so I do what's a variation on the Groupon model where dentists pay to be able to post the hours and I sell vouchers to do that, and that essentially brings those patients. So, I kind of mimic what Groupon did in its actual legal path of what it did. Because Groupon actually normally does fee-splitting and that's actually illegal. So, I make sure not to do that. So, anyway, dental office, hey, you want marketing. Then dental office, you just want staffing. I also staff. I'm also a staffing company and I work with other sub-staffing companies. Or they want the whole shebang, right. So, if they want the whole shebang, we figure out what for my whole shebang, which is staffing, marketing - I've got it listed here: billing, technology, branding, customers, improvement consulting, interior design - like, I'm basically a DSO. It's an hourly rate for what we do, which then translates into success but it's not, you know, on a per patient basis. Ideally, I mean, what normally someone would do in this case would be like, "Okay, let's go 50/50." That's not possible in the dental sector and so, what you need to do is really justify bottoms-up what your value is and make sure whatever deal you are striking, that the dentist is profitable. So, it's complicated. I'd have to talk someone through it.
Howard: So, 3 things. You said one was marketing, one was staffing. What was the third?
Eva: The whole shebang: marketing and staffing and all those random things.
Howard: When you're talking about staffing, you know what the best overlooked staffing tool is in dentistry? I mean, these big corporate chains are the only ones that get it. But Dentaltown has a quarter million registered dentists and hygienists and all that. And they've had free classified ads, and now we just added the free classified ads to the app on the last update several months ago, but the ads expire after 120 days, so they're all relevant, they're all new. But, on any given day there's about 6,000 free classified ads for selling a practice, buying a practice, hiring someone, looking for a job. So, if you're looking for a hygienist in that area, go to the classified ads. Have you thought about starting a thread on Dentaltown on this? I mean, my g*d, talk about marketing of your brand and getting leads. I mean, sh*t, there's how many dentists are in just Manhattan? 10,000?
Eva: Oh, my, I haven't counted them. But, yeah, I mean, I would love leads that ... again, we're small right now, because, you know, we want the facade to the patient to be, "Hey, get these services. Come in!" You know, pretty simple. But back here in terms of how we actually do that, we have to figure that out very robustly. And, so, now that we've got it, we get what we're doing. I mean, scaling, like, I would love those leads. I can ... whatever you recommend to get me the right innovative dentists. That would be fantastic.
Howard: What blows my mind the most is, we have a search bar on Dentaltown. There's a quarter million dentists on there. They've posted like 6 million times. I can't tell you how many companies have never just gone on Dentaltown and did a search for their own damn product. And then I'll get some survey monkey in my email saying, "We're doing a survey on Impregum." It's like, "Dude, why don't you just go to Dentaltown and do a search for Impregum and you can see what everyone's ever thought about Impregum. It hasn't changed in 30 years." So, you should ... you need to be able to show up on a search, right, because if someone sees the Floss Bar, they're going to go to Dentaltown and they're going to type in The Floss Bar. So, you should start a thread under - there's 50 categories: root canals, fillings, crowns, practice management, marketing, whatever - and explain this, because you are highly innovative, which means that the one thing: you're not a dentist and you didn't come from dentistry. Most of the big innovations didn't even come from different departments, you know what I mean. So, right now they can either go to The Floss Bar - is there a contact on that?
Eva: Yeah, yeah, it has my email right there: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard: Okay, and, so, this is September. You've already got 3 open. Are you going to try to get another one open before Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Eva: Yeah, yeah. I want ... I'm targeting at least 5 by end of year, but I think that's low ball. I'm trying to get 10.
Howard: Damn! You're just fearless, aren't you?
Eva: I mean it - the thing works. I want to go as fast as possible. And it's also, you know, the model is difficult to start with and, you know, I'm avoiding saying certain things about it, but, you know, there's a possibility of competition from, you know, a major company or something, and so I need to go fast now that I know it's working. I'm also going to be raising funding to make it accelerate. I mean, bootstrapping it from my own savings while paying for a business degree, is not fun to say the least, and so, yeah, I mean.
Howard: So, where are you going to get funding from?
Eva: There's a few options. There's, you know, angel investors, which could be dentists or not dentists. There's just going straight venture capital. There's equity crowdfunding - have you heard of that?
Howard: Yeah, like, yeah.
Eva: There's that route. And then there's also, you know - somebody talked to me about this, but I'm not sold, and I think he was joking - which is ... have you ever heard of an initial coin offering, like a Bitcoin capital raise?
Howard: I've never heard of a Bitcoin. That's block chain, initial coin operating ... initial coin offering?
Eva: Yeah, yeah.
Howard: And that's Bitcoin?
Eva: That's a Bitcoin. That's like raising money through Bitcoin.
Howard: Well, what do you think of Bitcoin? I notice China just banned it. The minute China banned it, that's the first time I got religion. I said, "Okay, China also bans the Internet. If this is so powerful that China banned it, to me that means it's arrived, it's an undeniable technology."
Eva: Yeah, it's an undeniable technology that still needs some work. So, Bitcoin is very volatile. So, imagine I raise money on Bitcoin and then it flops. Like that's a huge problem. And also, Bitcoin is managed in some weird way, like if you think of, you know, the way the Dollar is managed, where you have the Central Bank, they set the supply, they look at, you know, demand for Dollars. In Bitcoin, the governance is all over the place. So, you know, if there's too few or there's too many and there's too few and then there's an economic crisis and blah, blah, blah. That's not figured out. So, it's not a safe path to go but, in terms of potential and figuring that out, I mean, it's going to transform how money works in the world.
Howard: Yeah, and the status quo of government's Central Banks and the big banks like Chase and all those international, Wells Fargo, they're not going to like that at all. I think it's going to be a serious disrupting technology. Do you?
Eva: I think it is, but will they like it, is a question. Can they get on that bandwagon? Can they do something with it? Maybe.
Howard: Hah, that's interesting. So, how much money are you going to try to raise?
Eva: Probably ... I don't need much actually. Probably half a million to start, but ideally two million. I mean, it's like putting fuel on a fire. How much fuel until it burns the whole forest?
Howard: Okay. Do this. Send me your business model to email@example.com, and I'll reply to just 2 different guys that will probably both do it. You know, there's a ... I mean, you need some [00:32:35] [sounds like: whale] [0.3] that really would gamble $500,000 at a blackjack table. You know, you could know their names, I mean, so, yeah. So, if you want to do that, I'll try to help you do that. Just, I'll send you ... I'll reply to that guy and put in the headline - you can't put 'free', you can't put 'money', whatever, but anyway, just send me what you got, and by the end of the day, or whenever you send it to me, I'll reply to the people I know that fund stuff like this out of anything more than just because they're all, they've made millions in dentistry, they're obsessed with dentistry, and they would probably do it just out of morbid curiosity.
Eva: Yeah, those people are great, and they'll know things. So, they'll want to, you know, be ...
Howard: And, at the end of the day, your network is going to be equal to ... your net worth will be equal to your network. That's why I think you should get on Dentaltown because, with a quarter million dentists on there, I think there's probably 5, 6,000 unique dentists a day that's going to hit, that's going to start. You'll be surprised who that flushes out of the woods for you, you know what I mean? So, people will be contacting you from many, many angles. So, basically, you're going, and you can do just the marketing, just the staffing. Is it hard to find hygienists that want to work outside hours? I mean, before work, after work, evenings and weekends? 'Cause that's what every dentist is going to say, they're going to say, "My gosh, Eva, you're never going to find anybody work on Saturday or Sunday, let alone on a school night till 9 p.m." I mean, who is going to work those hours?
Eva: Weirdly enough, everyone wants to work those hours. I didn't think so, so for example, I thought it'd be hard to get hygienists. That was my honest thought. But I go on and so I, you know, signed up with a few staffing agencies, you know, helped them do the search. But then I just posted on Indeed.com. I posted a job posting and I got 20 applications in the first day. It was actually kind of ridiculous. Like, I don't know the stats but maybe hygienists are pretty underemployed, because dentists are doing their own hygiene. I'm not sure what's exactly happening, but people seem to really want the job. And so, I have my pick of the good ones.
Howard: So, what is Indeed.com?
Eva: It's like Monster.com. It's just a job posting site.
Howard: So, why did you go to Indeed? When I think of jobs sites, I think of Monster Jobs. What else do I think of? Is there one Hot Jobs, or ...? There's Monster Jobs. But, why did you do Indeed. Is it lower cost than Monster Jobs?
Eva: Yeah, it's free.
Howard: Oh, so, it's like Craigslist?
Howard: Well, Craigslist ... are hygiene ads free on Craigslist?
Howard: They are? And Indeed.com is free? So, how does Indeed make money then if their job listings are free?
Eva: Ads, maybe? I don't know. I honestly didn't care how they make money. I just wanted hygienists.
Howard: Hah, that is interesting. Yeah, we're having amazing success on our free Dentaltown classified ads, especially buying and selling a practice. Most of my practice broker friends are telling me their hottest leads are in Dentaltown. And the other thing that's cool about Dentaltown is, you know, somebody might be selling a practice in Arizona, so he takes an ad out in the Arizona State, the Arizona Dental Association deal, but the guy who might be buying the practice might be in the military or in Guam or living in Florida and wants to move back home, and he doesn't see that local ad. So, and when it's just dentistry, they're all looking for it. How's the supply and demand of hygienists? I mean, do you have so many hygienists that a lot of them ... it's competitive? So, they're looking for jobs even if it's weird hours and weekends, or do you see an under-supply of hygienists, where it's actually hard to find them?
Eva: I see an oversupply. A lot of them are temping at various agencies, you know, looking for full time work but not finding it. I haven't diagnosed why that happens, but part of it being ... well, I think there's 3 reasons why it's not hard for me to find hygienists. One is this, it seems there is an oversupply going on, at least in New York City. And then, they really like the flexibility that I offer. So, you know, I'm open 5 to 9. They say, "Okay, Eva, from, you know, I actually can do, you know, 5 to 7 on Wednesdays. Do you want me 5 to 7 on Wednesdays?" They actually set their own schedule. So, being able to set their own schedule is big. It's almost like, you know, I wouldn't equate them to hairdressers, I think they are much more, you know, they're medical professionals - although I love hairdressers anyway - but giving them that lifestyle where they can kind of own their clientele, they can freelance. Like, freelancing hasn't been a thing in the hygiene world and so, that kind of lifestyle change is pretty intriguing to people.
Howard: Those hygienists, I mean, they're just like registered nurses. There's really no difference between a nurse and a hygienist - 4 years of college, 1 is in a hospital. So, what services are they doing? They're doing cleanings, exams, x-rays and bleaching, or just cleanings? Cleanings, x-rays, bleaching? Or what services?
Eva: 4 things, actually 5. I'll tell you about the fifth one - the fifth one's fun. Cleaning, just, you know, prophylaxis, adults and soon children too, whitening, so, whitening is pretty standard. And know, when I'm saying these things, they have different supervision levels of dentists, but that's a below the line thing for now. So, cleaning, whitening, x-rays and perio probing, like, I think of this bucket as gathering all the patient data for the dentist to be able to optimize his exam time. And then fourthly, Invisalign consultations, or Invisalign competitors too, we do.
Howard: And what was ... ?
Eva: Let me tell you about it. It's getting interesting traction because no-one does it. So, we call it 'the drive-by', because we called it 'the quickie', but that didn't go over well with people due to the connotations. So, the drive-by is where they can come in and for 15 minutes or 10 minutes or so, a hygienist will floss their teeth, polish their teeth and do a shot of mouthwash. It's not a full [00:39:17] [sounds like: profit] [0.4] at all. It's almost as if, like, you've got a date, or you've got an interview and you just want to freshen up. We're able to do that really quickly and it's like a fine way for people to check us out but they just want to dip their toe in the water. And it's something that they can do frequently, like, if they hate flossing or something like that, or don't know how to floss. Like, all right, let somebody floss you, you can learn, or you can, you know, you're not going to do it anyway, so you might as well just show up. So, that one is actually a pretty interesting one for people.
Howard: Yeah, and you know, at the beginning of this deal, we were talking about how dentists truly look in the mirror and believe they're patient-centric. But they're dentist-centric. I mean, I always thought, like, you go on a cruise ship and I can go in there and I get a mani, a pedi, a massage. I can get all these services, and can I get my teeth cleaned? No. I lecture at all these resorts and again, you go down to the spa, they say, "What do you want? A facial? Do you want a massage? Do you want, you know, all this stuff?" And it's like, "Well, I just want my teeth cleaned." And the dentists go to the lawyers and they pass laws that they can't have independent practicing because in their walnut brain, no cleaning is better than some form of cleaning. And they vote in laws to deny access and availability for health services while being internally convinced in their own brain that they're doing the best for the patient. It's like the human mind, I mean, it is just so amazing how you can rationalize anything if it suits your own self-interest. That is just crazy. So, when you said not Invisalign, Invisalign competitors, what competitor are you finding? That's like a prescription can be the brand name or a substitution permitted. Are you using Invisalign or using a substitution for lower cost?
Eva: So, we're using ... it depends on what the patient wants and how complex the case is. So, Invisalign is like, you know, the gold standard.
Howard: I've got to tell you, when I got out of school in '87 and I started Dentaltown in '98, and you know what the best thing that started me with Dentaltown? Is when I started that, that was also when I signed up for to get my MBA from Arizona State University, they had an evening program, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 10, it was 2 classes: one 6 to 8, one 8 to 10, Monday and Wednesday, 2 classes a trimester, 6 classes a year, 2 years, 12 classes. And when I went through that MBA program, everything I was learning I was applying to my Today's Dental that had been open for a decade, and this new company I had started, Dentaltown. And I look back at that and I tell everybody, if I wasn't going through my MBA when I started Dentaltown, it would have crashed and burned, and it was just so ... I'm telling you that I know that at your age, at 26, you can't even fathom that someday you'll be old like me, 55, with grandchildren. But, when you are my age, you will look back at this time and say, "I was so lucky I did the MBA the same time I launched my new business." Because you're exposed to so many grand thoughts from all these other industries and it'll make that cloudy force get so clear. And you homies out there that are getting beat up by insurance and business and all that stuff, you can do it Monday and Wednesday nights from 6 to 10, or you can do it Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 to 10, or you can do it every Saturday. And unlike dental school that when you graduated you got down on your hands and knees and kissed the ground and felt like you just got out of prison, when MBA school was over I'd hung out with those guys - 200 people for 2 years. It was sad driving home. I thought, I mean, it was like the party's over, I'm not going to be hanging out with these people. It was so fun to sit there with 200 entrepreneurs and talking about what every company is doing. It was so amazing. Why reinvent the wheel? I mean, there's so many people that have figured out so many things, why do you reinvent the wheel, you know?
Eva: Yeah, business that we look up to, for example, is like, you know, when I was making the first financial model for us, is Drybar. You've heard of Drybar, right?
Eva: They're not dental at all. They are actually a woman's hairdressing company. So, what they do is, you come in, they wash your hair and they blow dry it nice. That's all they do. They don't cut, they don't color, they don't do anything. And the interesting part is they took a part of an industry, which happened to be hairdressing, and they took the most basic thing that it does, which is wash and dry your hair nice, and then they made a whole franchise out of it. They do a couple of things and they do them well. And so, like, that's what we're going for. So, that's why I love being in business school and learning about all these business models, like Warby Parker started it at U Penn also, and so, like, learning from these giants, I get to apply those principles to what I'm doing.
Howard: I mean, to me the most bizarre stat in the world is that from 1950 to 2015, in those 65 years, 88 percent of the Fortune 500 companies disappeared. So, when you look at creative destructionism, just because you've made it all the way to the top and just because you're all that and a bag of chips, it's an 88 percent mortality rate. I mean, these dentists think, well, this is how they've always done it since my dad was a dentist, we've been doing it this way since 1970, I'm sure it's never going to change. Like, dude, I'm 88 percent sure it's going to change. I mean, all business models just keep improving and improving and improving.
Eva: Mm-hmm, and [00:45:10] [UNCLEAR] [0.2] to change too. Like whenever we go to a different office and they're either hesitant about the model or asking questions, we always learn something. Like, at first, we were just the whole shebang, which is the marketing, the staffing, the, you know, we do everything for you. But some of them were like, "You know, I actually have an overflow of patients. I don't even need more patients from you. I just need, like, can you just take these hygiene cases off my plate and do them in the evenings. Like, I just want to do advanced stuff when I'm here, and I want to go home, like, and have some associate talk to you. Like, can you just run my hygiene part? Can you, like, outsource?" And that was an interesting thing too. So, like, we keep learning. We're trying not to have too many business models, but there's probably something else there we haven't even found that we could incorporate.
Howard: Is there any other questions that I wasn't smart enough to ask?
Eva: So, one of the difficult - not difficult, actually, just the thing people ask, and they think is difficult is, what do you do when someone needs a root canal or something like that? Like, what ... like, you're only doing hygiene and whitening and the basic stuff. Well, you know, what if someone needs something more? Are you just, like, not telling them or you, you know, kind of wanting to keep them your customer, like, anyway, what are you doing for those people? Like I said, we're a funnel. Like, we funnel these basic patients in, we look in their mouth and take that data, the dentist looks in their mouth and all of that, and we find stuff. We find the root canals, we find the, you know, perio cases and whatnot. And so, what we do for those people is, that patient gets, you know, told that, "Hey, you've got some suspicious stuff going on?" And they then get referred to the dentist in the actual practice, which makes the most sense. Or actually, if they're even more cost-conscious, which some people are - like, you know, if we've got a Union Square dentist who we love, but, you know, his root canal costs, you know, $8,000 or whatever, but some other guy might have 2,000 and you're pretty price-sensitive. We actually work with so many partners. This organization called TAO, The Access Organization. You heard of it?
Eva: Yeah, they're actually a benefits plan for artists. Like, if you think of, you know, the stereotypical poor, starving artist - that guy doesn't have insurance. And so, what they are for dentistry is they're actually a negotiation service. So, if my people need something more advanced and they actually don't want the dentist in the office that they went to, for whatever reason, that service will go by zip code and negotiate on their behalf and find them a dentist within their price range. So, we make sure to, like, take care of people through the stack, even if we're just the tip of the iceberg.
Howard: Very interesting. I love your zero-gravity thinking. I mean, you're a fearless thinker, you're an innovator, and you're just trying to help the consumer do dentistry faster, easier, higher quality, lower cost. It's an amazing journey. I wish you the best of luck. If anything changes, let me know. I can't wait to see you on the boards. I can't wait to see what all the Townies ... how their amazing minds look at this. Like, you know, the biggest thing about Dentaltown is, you can put something up there that is so black and white, and then it's just amazing how so many people see it so many different ways. You know, like, someone will put a beautiful cosmetic case on there, and then the next person looks at it and says, "Oh, my g*d, you did 4 bicuspid extractions and they have ditched profile!" I mean, it's amazing how dentists, with their 8 to 12 years of college, have so many amazing minds. Well, I can't wait till you post on there and see what they all think of your idea. And I think everybody will collaborate and help you move faster into the future.
Eva: Man, I sure hope so. Either they'll love it, or they'll spin up some debate where I'll learn something, so. So, excited to post.
Howard: All right. Well, I'm excited that you came on the show. Big shout out to ... I'm sure Poland is crying that they lost you to America. I'm sure Marcin Dolecki ... that's what, you ought to call Marcin Dolecki and try it in Warsaw simultaneously.
Howard: You should launch the Floss Bar in Warsaw, Poland, with Marcin Dolecki simultaneously. I mean, you know.
Eva: Oh, Marcin Dolecki. Okay, yeah, I didn't understand the name, but that's the guy you like, the dentist.
Howard: Oh, my g*d, he's one of the smartest, innovative, coolest guys in the world, and Warsaw is so like Manhattan. I mean, Warsaw reminds me more of Manhattan than it does where I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. But, thank you so much for coming on the show. I wish you the best of luck. And e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce me to these other people. I'd like to have them come on the show too. That would be very, very, very fun.
Eva: Awesome! Thank you so much.
Howard: All right, Eva, I hope you have a rocking hot day and good luck with the Floss Bar.
Eva: Thank you.