Scaled and polished: How a digital dental start-up expanded globally from Dubai

: Launching a start-up is no easy task. In fact, globally, 10% of start-ups fail within the first year. But Dubai is one city that is bucking the trend. It is building an environment that enables entrepreneurs to thrive and start-ups to flourish. This government-led effort is physically manifested in AREA 2071, a unique start-up platform that supports Dubai’s efforts to become the world’s leading city in terms of innovation, and future-driven solutions with positive global impact.
One such company is Toothpick, a homegrown, UAE-based start-up that used AREA 2071 as a springboard for growth. Toothpick is a tech company in the dental industry that allows dentists to easily find all dental products and services in their local marketplace while enjoying various finance solutions.
In fact, Toothpick is the first health-tech start-up globally to digitalise the dental industry as an ecosystem by providing tech solutions to every stakeholder of the industry. In just two years, the start-up has acquired over 50,000 subscribers, secured more than 390 local suppliers, and sold over 67,000 products.
With the global dental market projected to $38.84 billion in 2022, according to Fortune Business Insight, there is a significant opportunity for companies that can streamline both practitioner operations and patient experiences while also enhancing supply chains.
Within just two years, Toothpick has expanded to three countries - Egypt, Lebanon, and Qatar. It recently signed agreements to launch operations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in Q1 2023 and plans on piercing the German, Austrian and Swiss markets in Q3 2023. The company’s services are tailored for each country within which it operates, enabling it to stay agile as it scales. Toothpick is extending its reach further by licensing its technology for use by international healthcare giants in the European, Asian and American markets.
Benefitting from the network it could access through AREA 2071, Toothpick raised a pre-seed round of $2.8 million and are raising > $15 million during their Series A Round. Such is the reputation Toothpick has quickly established that the firm has struck partnerships with major international dental stakeholders and associations. It was recently announced as the Official Dentist Shopping Partner for AEEDC 2022, which is the world’s second largest dental exhibition.
This rapid expansion was in part enabled by the platform AREA 2071 provided, which lowers and removes some of the barriers commonly facing start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Since its inception in May 2017, the platform has hosted more than 780 physical and over 80 virtual events with more than 26,000 participants from across the globe. To date, 6,377 companies from across the globe are in AREA 2071’s ecosystem, including from France, Estonia, Latavia, New Zealand, South Korea, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and many more.
One of the key advantages AREA 2071 start-ups enjoy is being part of an innovation ecosystem that brings together talent, government, the private sector, and other great minds to collaborate. This multi-stakeholder approach facilitates the designing and testing of innovative solutions for the future and provides growth opportunities. The ecosystem also helps start-ups to be matched with suitable investors.
AREA 2071 is home to some of the region’s most innovative initiatives, including Dubai Future Labs (DFL) and the Regulations Lab (RegLab). DFL is an applied research and development facility that designs, develops, and tests cutting-edge robotics and automation technologies; committed to enhancing the culture of technological innovation in the UAE. Meanwhile, RegLab allows entrepreneurs to test their innovative solutions in a real life setting within Dubai.
But AREA 2071 offers much more than networking and support initiatives, as Sary Azakir, Managing Partner from Toothpick explains: “We were inspired by the leadership and vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to aim as high as possible. Being immersed in the spirit of Emirates Towers and seeing the motivational quotes from the UAE’s leadership on a daily basis instilled confidence. We have attempted to integrate the UAE’s approach to problem solving into our thinking and company structure, which has led us to achieve some significant milestones and will propel us onto further success.”
DFF was crucial to Toothpick’s launch, which took place at the height of COVID-19. As well as offering guidance, support, and networks, it facilitated direct contact with the appropriate authorities and regulators and provided physical support such as office space.
“Above all,” adds Azakir, “DFF inspired the team to always aim for the most ambitious goals such as shaping the future of healthcare. The energy in Emirates Towers is truly invigorating and AREA 2071 cultivated a mindset that everything is possible.”

 

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