Disrupting traditional orthodontic care: MAGNiTT interviews Basma Co-Founder, Dr. Cherif Massoud

Q1) Can you tell us a bit about Basma and how your platform works (in layman's terms)?

Basma believes that high quality dental care should be affordable and more convenient. Using advanced telemedicine and 3D printing, we deliver custom fitted aligners to customers homes in the MENA region. Every customer is connected remotely to a board certified Orthodontist who plans the treatment and follows up regularly on the progress, with most cases being treated within 6 months. Using technology to change the distribution channels, we are able to cut the cost of treatment by 65% less than braces. Our platform is very easy to use and recreates dentist visits virtually. Every customer has his own account where he can view in 3D his final result and is constantly connected to his doctor.

Q2) What’s your big-picture vision for the future?

  • Using Basma’s technology to enhance the oral healthcare experience and making it more accessible and affordable for patients. 

  • Maintaining a high-level of professional care for every patient and helping in building awareness of dental care (and increase volumes) in the region. 

  • Enable dentists to use the latest advancements in technology to offer an overall better treatment experience.

Q3) Where are you currently operating? And where, beyond Saudi, are you looking to expand to next?

KSA is our first market with a high orthodontic need, high online shopping behavior and strong mobile phone penetration, and we are confident that Basma will be very successful there. Additionally, we will also be launching in the UAE, with other countries in the MENA region to follow soon. We believe the problem of overpriced, inconvenient orthodontic solutions is an international one and this round of funding will greatly accelerate our expansion and establishment as a go-to teeth alignment brand in the region.

Q4) It is safe to assume that this round of funding will enable you to scale further -- where are you planning to focus the most, product, team, or geographical expansion?

Yes definitely, the main purpose of the round is to launch strong and scale, with the focus now on the team. Over the last two years, the core team has been preparing the groundwork for this expansion, the product is ready and tested, and now we are ready to build out the team that will be able to push the product out and provide a seamless customer experience that we think is missing in orthodontics, and in dental healthcare generally.

Q5) What were you looking for from your investors, beyond capital?

Connections in the markets we are planning to enter.

Q6) What's something or someone that really helped you fundraising?

One random healthcare hackathon organised by Seedstars Beirut that I attended in November 2018. During that event I met both of the VCs which invested in us.

Q7) What are your biggest challenges to scale?

One of our greatest advantages is that we control the production and therefore control most of our supply chain, so we have the traditional manufacturing challenges of increasing production and efficiency without compromising on quality. But additionally, we are tackling the scaling of a custom manufacturing operation, where every step from the treatment planning to the 3D printing of aligners is unique to each customer.

These are big challenges, but we think the biggest challenge is scaling the customer experience. The promise of direct to consumer health-tech is increasing affordability and convenience for customers, whilst still providing safe care. To this end, every step of the customer journey from when they enter our website until they complete their treatment is being scrutinised and reshaped by the Basma team.

We must ensure that the customer’s case is monitored closely, with appropriate follow-up, and all their concerns answered. 

Moreover, we are maximising the number of customers our orthodontists can treat safely, and processing all the customer dental data received to have it available to the treatment team on demand. Technology is critical in enabling this seamless customer experience, and we are building our systems and processes with these challenges in mind.

Q8) What are the most exciting things happening in health-tech right now, globally?

The most exciting things in health-tech still have buzzword status, but we are beginning to see their applications. From telesurgery to nanotech, at Basma we are always amazed by the progress being made in different fields. We think that the impact of machine learning on big medical data sets has a huge potential in predicting and combating disease.

In the dental space, some technologies are already being applied by other companies, such as AI solutions that can detect dental conditions. We are most excited by the maturing new technologies, which have the potential to make the Basma experience better. On our roadmap we see great value in implementing augmented reality, as well as machine vision and machine learning.

Q9) It's no secret that technology has made consumers more demanding than ever before, how does this play out in the health-care space?

Today’s consumer is used to getting products and services on demand, but in healthcare where safety is paramount, developments in convenience naturally take longer. We find that this contrast creates frustration with customers; everything is becoming digital, fast, and convenient, but many healthcare experiences take customers back to the ‘old ways’.

Companies that can rethink and reshape these outdated experiences can disrupt the status quo and quickly gain favour with customers. In orthodontics, traditional practices have fallen behind in offering an affordable and convenient solution, especially for easy, purely aesthetic cases. By creating an optimised experience and selecting safely achievable cases, Basma makes it possible for many consumers to have a streamlined, convenient treatment, at a much more affordable price.

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