There are almost 186,000 dentist businesses in the US, and at any given time, they replenish supplies. The process of doing so has traditionally been fragmented, with the average offices relying on between three and seven suppliers.
This means someone sitting at a computer with an open tab to a vendor’s website, going back and forth between them, to compare prices and find the best deal. Adding to the problem in recent years is a global pandemic that has strained supply chains and made finding everyday items, such as gloves and masks, more difficult.
Caen Contee, founder of global micromobility startup Lime, told Zero2Billions that this is an avoidable problem. He teamed up with software engineer Ivan Bertona to develop Wellplacean automated multi-vendor supply product purchasing platform for dental offices.
“Think of the technology like an extraction layer over procurement for a dental practice,” Bertona said in an interview. “Around optimization, we can also learn about customer habits and what products they might want to replace with equivalent but cheaper alternatives versus which products they won’t look at.”
Here’s how it works: Wellplace’s proprietary technology digests client order data, taking into account specific needs, and then enables customers to carry out that specific buying behavior across a large network of suppliers via a single shopping cart.
Billing occurs after the order has been successfully processed, placed, and confirmed shipped. Meanwhile, Wellplace manages orders and logistics as well as returns and chargebacks as needed. The platform is free for practice use and Wellplace takes a portion of the sales it drives to suppliers.
Wellplace is another startup, like bttn, that helps medical professionals get the supplies they need. However, trying to build something like this even three years ago would have been difficult were it not for several factors, including the push of e-commerce due to the pandemic, Contee said.
Distributors try to sell online directly with accounts and with customer portals. That leads to an online catalog from which data can be pulled.
“All those things, for me, have created this perfect storm,” said Contee.
Meanwhile, the company started taking orders from a small group of practices in November 2022 and started accepting more practices in private beta this month. This first group of dental practices have seen savings of 20% to 40% per order, says Contee.
Additionally, the marketplace has amassed more than 700,000 products across its network of distributors and manufacturers and is poised to roll in over 100 new locations by the end of this year.
Wellplace’s launch was supported by a recently closed $3.5 million seed round, co-led by Eniac Ventures and Bee Partners, with participation from Erik Anderson, co-founder and CEO of WestRiver Group; Haroon Mokhtarzada, co-founder and CEO of TrueBill and RocketMoney; Andy Oreffice, former CCO of Affordable Health Care; and entrepreneur Francis Hellyer.
In total, the company raised $5.5 million which was used for upgrades so it can accommodate the thousands of practices waiting to take advantage of the platform over the next few years.
“Typically practices with two dentists will spend between $4,000 and $5,000 on monthly supplies, and the least efficient ones can spend up to 10% of their overall budget on supplies,” says Contee. “The most efficient practice can bring that down to around 4%. We want to quickly help practice get closer to the more competitive best-in-class ranges for what they should be spending on their total cost.”