Drive Capital’s latest portfolio company is relocating to Columbus and has a unique niche in the technology industry. Beam Technologies focuses on dental technology and dental-related data.
The product they are most known for that serves as the fundamental building block of the company is a smartphone connected toothbrush. The Beam Brush allows users to collect data about their engagement with their daily oral hygiene, like when and how long they are brushing.
“Since the toothbrush is such a ubiquitous product, it was obvious to use that fact to essentially bring a sensor to that interface to make it convenient and easy for people to use that data on behalf of their own dental health,” says Beam Technologies CEO Alex Frommeyer.
Collecting data through the iPhone or Android app not only helps users track their oral hygiene, but it also creates potential for digital transactions. Frommeyer hopes to use the technology to make transactions for other dental goods and services easier – like ordering a new tube of toothpaste to be delivered, or “When it’s time to go the dentist, just schedule your dental appointment right through our app,” he says.
Beam Technologies focuses on dentistry, finding it to be a largely untapped market. It’s a huge industry and part of the hot-topic of healthcare, but “Somehow dental falls between the cracks and has very little interest and innovation in it,” Frommeyer says.
The company identified two major flaws in the industry.
First, most dentists own their practices and aren’t part of a bigger network like a doctor is a part of a hospital and a hospital is typically part of a network. It’s a fragmented field.
Second is the ability to connect patients with practitioners.
“If you’re conscientious, you might see your dentist twice a year,” Frommeyer says. More often that not it’s less than that so patients rarely interact with their dental practitioners in person. Beam Technologies saw this as a fundamental flaw in accessing services that patients may need.
“How do you use data and technology to close that gap,” Frommeyer asks. “The toothbrush is probably the most commonly found health tool in your home,” so the company chose it to learn about how people engage with their dental health. The company wants the information to make dental care cheaper and more efficient for everyone involved.
Since only about half of the population is covered by dental insurance, most people have to pay out of pocket when they go to the dentist. When most people are faced with the premise of going to the dentist for something minor they hold off, but then the problem often balloons into a much more expensive issue. Beam Technologies is trying to create a model to solve that problem.
The company launched the first version of the Beam Brush in early 2013 and sold out in April of this year. Beam Technologies is working to launch a brand new beam brush which will have new features and design elements during this year’s Christmas season.
The launch will be aided by Drive Capital’s recent $5 million investment in the company.
“It will help us launch the new beam brush,” Frommeyer says. He wants Beam Brush to be a scalably manufacturable device.
Drive Capital and Beam Technologies connected at a pitch event in Louisville, where Beam is currently based. However with the investment, the company will be relocating to Columbus.
“We recognized in our early dealings with Drive that the ability to be in close physical proximity to their resources – and help creating a local ecosystem in Columbus, in this case to do talent sourcing and take advantage of Drive’s in-house intellectual capital – all of those things are easy to do when you are physically together,” Frommeyer says.
The currently four-person team hopes to make the move by October and will be actively hiring for engineering and design positions in Columbus.
Frommeyer has always had an interest in engineering, starting with building tree houses when he was a little kid, before declaring it as his major in college. Deciding to stretch his entrepreneurial muscle, he and two fellow engineers from college, Alex Curry and Dan Dykes, started an engineering consulting firm in 2009 as they were finishing school.
“It was really cool to help others build their ideas, but we wanted to build some of our own ideas,” Frommeyer says, leading them to the Beam Brush in 2012.
Beam Technologies is excited to keep creating in Columbus and further develop their partnership with drive.
For more information, beamtoothbrush.com.