An $80-a-month startup that wants to help straighten your teeth— without you having to step foot in an orthodontist’s office — is now valued at $3.2 billion

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SmileDirectClub, a company that provides clear aligners, announced on Wednesday it had raised new funding at a $3.2 billion valuation.
The company was valued at $275 million just two years ago.
SmileDirectClub has built up into a large operation with thousands of employees and plans to add more, as well as partnerships to get its first treatment step, an impression kit, into stores.

Alex Fenkell keeps close tabs on one of his early customers.

Fenkell, a co-founder of SmileDirectClub, picked up a customer service call in 2017 when Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green called in after a championship game against the Cleveland Cavaliers to let the company know he’d broken his aligner.

Fenkell was incredulous — “That’s what’s on your mind right now?” he told Business Insider in June.

Green is an early investor in SmileDirectClub, a four-year-old startup that created the direct-to-consumer clear aligners market. It’s a business that’s been growing rapidly even as traditional orthodontists claim the process could harm patients if they’re not seen in-person.

On Wednesday, SmileDirectClub announced it had raised $380 million from private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice as well as venture firms Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital. The latest round values the company at $3.2 billion — up from $275 million just two years ago.

The idea behind SmileDirectClub is to make straightening teeth more affordable by cutting out the steps of going in-person to a dentist or orthodontist to get braces or other alignments.

That includes selling its impression kits — the first step of the process in which potential patients can make molds of their teeth that they can then ship to a dentist or orthodontist to evaluate — in 100 Macy’s stores across the US. The department store’s lifestyle and beauty focus was appealing to SmileDirectClub as its first retail partner, the company says.

Four years in, SmileDirectClub is up to 2,500 employees, and says it plans to hire another 1,000 by the end of 2018, the majority of which will be based in its Tennessee headquarters.

In addition to Green, SmileDirectClub is backed by Camelot Ventures, its largest shareholder as well as Align Technologies, the company that makes Invisalign clear aligners and is a supplier for SmileDirectClub.

No need for the dentist’s office

SmileDirectClub is far less expensive than getting braces through an orthodontist. While it typically costs anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 to get traditional braces or Invisalign-brand aligners, SmileDirectClub goes for a fraction of that — you can either pay $1,850 up front, or $250 up front and $80 for 24 months ($2,170 total). Here’s how it works.

You fill out what’s called a “smile assessment,” which includes questions about your teeth and gums.
You get an impression of your mouth taken or have it 3-D imaged at one of SmileDirectClub’s shops, of which there are 89 around the country, including places like Lubbock, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin. The price of an impression kit is $79.
One of the 220 state-licensed dentist or orthodontists that work with SmileDirectClub prescribes a …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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