September 29th, 2008 14:12 EST
Lumineers: An Entrepreneurial Homerun
Every once in a while, I stumble onto an entrepreneurial company that is such an enormous success that you can only call it a home run " out of the park. I had the rare opportunity to meet such a company in the last several months.
Den-Mat Holdings is a dental company (short for dental materials) that manufactures a variety of dental products, but they are best known for a product that is changing the dental industry in the most dramatic way. They manufacture Lumineers, which are a next generation type of veneer that are applied to the front of the teeth, giving the smile a brand new look and an enhanced overall appearance.
Have you ever noticed how movie stars and everyone in Hollywood have the perfect smile and magically symmetrical teeth? More than likely, they are wearing Lumineers. Lumineers are permanent and are made from molds and impressions taken from the patient`s teeth. The Lumineers are a just a fraction of a millimeter thick and are pressed from porcelain at 4,000 pounds per inch. That makes them extremely strong and enables them to bond to the teeth with almost no chance of failure. They look brilliant and they provide a level of protection to the teeth that is unparalleled.
Dr. Robert Ibsen developed this product 30 years ago because he noticed that people who miss the opportunity of having orthodontic work at an early age and who don`t get it done later in life often feel a sense of embarrassment about their smiles and/or overall appearance. Sometimes these individuals even feel inferior to others who have nicer, more attractive teeth.
Dr. Ibsen felt that all people deserve to have beautiful smiles which they can be proud of, even though they missed childhood orthodontic work.
By identifying the problem and creating an excellent solution, Dr. Ibsen created a $100,000,000 annual empire. Dentists from across the country and around the world fly to the Den-Mat facility in Santa Maria, California to learn how to apply these products and how to best help their patients.
Dr. Ibsen`s prediction about how patients perceive themselves was exactly on the mark. Some patients get Lumineers for instant corrective orthodontic work. But some patients order the Lumineers to improve their smile and/or appearance - such as to ever so slightly push out their top lip, creating a fuller face.
And by the way, it doesn`t hurt that dentists are looking for more ways to expand their practices and to increase their revenue streams, which is one of the principles that I always address with entrepreneurs. (See the piece on Revenue Octopus: http://is.gd/3hhj)
By noticing a small problem, taking action, and creating an appropriate and relevant solution, Dr. Ibsen was able to bring his dream to life. He assembled a brilliant team of dentists to begin marketing his product. First, he hand picked the best dentists from around the country and flew them to his Santa Maria laboratory. He trained them in the art of preparing and installing the next generation of veneers " and once ready, he began to invite dentists from around the country to learn about installing Lumineers on patients in the operatory located at the Santa Maria facility. These hungry visiting dentists soon became the best sales people for Dr. Ibsen`s dream and it wasn`t long before a viral explosion occurred.
The lead instructor and one of the most talented dentists in the country, especially in the realm of cosmetic dentistry and the installation of Lumineers, is Dr. Michael A. Schneider. Michael is truly the dentist`s dentist. He teaches dentists from around the country and frequently travels around the world, instructing, counseling, coaching, and mentoring other dentists on the proper technique and application of Lumineers. If I were to have Lumineers applied, the only dentist that I would ask for is Dr. Michael Schneider. (Wouldn`t you want the guy who teaches all of the other guys how to do the procedure?)
Michael has a philosophy about Lumineers that very closely mirrors the philosophy that he learned from Dr. Ibsen: people who have problems with their teeth frequently have issues with self-confidence.
The entrepreneurial lesson here is that when Dr. Schneider took ownership of Dr. Ibsen`s vision, Dr. Schneider was able to promote the product with the same level of passion and enthusiasm as the creator. Your goal as an entrepreneur is to get all of the representatives of your products to feel the same way you do about your products/services. This way, Dr. Ibsen multiplied his selling army and was better able to promote the opportunity for patients to have an improved life socially, medically, and otherwise.
The punch line to the story is that Dr. Ibsen recently sold a large percentage of his company to DLJ, the merchant banking arm of Credit Suisse for an untold number of dollars. The word is that the number is in the ballpark of nine figures. Isn`t it funny how the right question about a problem can turn it into more money than one can ever dream of when you answer it correctly?
So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, ask questions, find problems, and then find solutions to those problems. But it is more than that. It is also about finding other people to buy into your vision and about correcting the problems that your future customers will have. When you do that, you have a real chance to hit a homerun " out of the park.
About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit www.joelblock.com or www.growth-logic.com. Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship - www.entrepreneur-hub.com. And finally, for film makers: www.filmfundingblog.com - our newest project.