As the famous phrase goes, “software is eating the world” — and now software is eating dentistry. Or, perhaps more accurately, the arena of orthodontics — the specialty of dentistry that deals with things like braces — is slowly but surely being digitalized.
To whit, Impress, a Southern European player in direct-to-consumer orthodontics, has raised a $50 million Series A funding round led by CareCapital (a dental division of Hillhouse Capital in Asia), along with Nickleby Capital, UNIQA Ventures and investors including Michael Linse, Valentin Pitarque, Peter Schiff, Elliot Dornbusch and others. All existing shareholders, such as TA Ventures and Bynd VC, also participated.
Impress is an homage to the direct-to-consumer startups in this area in the U.S., such as SmileDirect, and now plans to scale across Europe from its existing bases in Spain, Italy, Portugal, the U.K. and France.
The company was founded in 2019 in Barcelona by orthodontist Dr. Khaled Kasem and serial entrepreneurs Diliara and Vladimir Lupenko.
Speaking from Barcelona, Lupenko told me that the idea was to “combine the best orthodontic tradition with the most innovative technology in the sector.”
As things stand, most of the time, consumers can usually only access cosmetic teeth alignment treatments or orthodontic medical treatments in conventional clinics. The new wave of clinics employs 3D scans and panoramic X-rays to check nerve and bone health.
Impress’s model is to offer these high-quality medical treatments directly to consumers, by developing its own chain of orthodontic clinics, which also put an emphasis on design and a “modern” patient experience, it says.
As Diliara Lupenko says: “We didn’t copy what other companies in the space were doing and approached the market from a different angle from the get-go. We doubled down on the doctor-led digital model which brought us way better conversion rates and treatment quality even though on paper it looked complex in the beginning. It’s still very complex but we were able to crack it and scale exponentially.”
Impress now has 75 clinics in Spain, Italy, the U.K., France and Portugal, which optimize costs and automate key parts of the value chain.
It now says it’s approaching €50 million in annual run-rate and is projected to grow to €150 million of revenue in 12 months.
Andreas Nemeth, managing partner of UNIQA Ventures GmbH commented: “Impress’s customer-centric focus, as well as its demonstrated ability to blitzscale, attracted us to the business. Vladimir and his team leverage technology to create a seamless customer journey for invisible orthodontics and optimized their cost structure in a unique way using software.”