Wharton and Engineering sophomore Daniel Hanover and his partner, Patrick Lee, who attended Duke University before taking a leave of absence, just launched their startup app, Orthly, earlier this week.
Orthly makes invisible aligners 70 percent cheaper than other brands and delivers them to customers via a few taps on the phone. The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with these two co-founders about their new startup:
Daily Pennsylvanian: What exactly is Orthly? What does it do?
Patrick Lee: Orthly is the world’s first app that gets you a magical smile at less than 70 percent of other brands, with just a few taps on your phone.
Daniel Hanover: Normally, if you want to get your teeth aligned, you go to an orthodontist and go through many procedures and end up receiving a treatment plan, at the cost of three to five thousand dollars. However, if you like, you could use our app and do the exact thing for about $1,500. So it saves money. It’s a lot more convenient. Ultimately it’s the same product.
PL: For the customization part, you come to us, or we come to you, and scan your teeth using the device. Or, if you set what time your evaluation to be, the app uses your location to direct you to the nearest clinic that we have in the city. Within the minute you are connected, we pay for your Uber ride there, and you go there for 15 minutes to get the scan done, and on that same day, you will get to see what your future teeth look like in Orthly.
DH: Orthodontists can request photos of your teeth through the app to track how you are doing.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What is the inspiration or idea behind this startup?
PL: Back in March 2016, I went to an orthodontist office and I was inquiring about Invisalign, and they quoted me for $6,500. I was shocked by the price, and I want to look into it more, so I investigate it further, and I realize that a lot of the cost that is associated with Invisalign treatment could be largely reduced without affecting the treatment outcome for a large percentage of cases. So for mild to moderate treatment cases, you are able to effectively reduce cost by 70 percent or more, but still have the same treatment. ... If you take a look at an Invisalign treatment case, $2,000 is paid by orthodontists to Invisalign, and that’s how Invisalign makes money. It does not charge customers directly ... And the orthodontists charge the remaining $4,000, and around 50 percent to 60 percent of that goes to office overhead cost, which pays for equipment, rent, employees. Then the rest of that 40 percent goes to labor fees for every-once-a-month checkups. By working directly with manufacturer as a direct consumer company, we are able to get rid of both prices ... and create a new treatment model, where we are able to greatly reduce that $4,000.
Daily Pennsylvanian: When did you guys start working on Orthly?
PL: So, I had the idea in March 2016, and I pitched the idea to Daniel... and we started working on it a little bit during the summer, and we really picked up around August.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What is the current status of the startup team?
DH: Right now, solidly it’s just us two.
Daily Pennsylvanian: How is Orthly doing so far?
DH: We just launched earlier today (Tuesday, Feb. 7). The website and app went live a couple hours ago. So you can download it in the app store now.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What do you think are some unique or strongly competitive features of this startup that let it stand out in the market?
DH: Convenience and price are the base two, and also the app is built with a lot of care. It’s very nice designed.
PL: I think it’s not just the model itself, but the channel we are delivering it through...it really resonates with millennial and people at our age, like 18 to 30. People at our age don’t want to go to clinic anymore.
DH: Exactly. Low commitment.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What are the goals that Orthly wishes to achieve?
PL: We want to be able to give people the ability to have great smiles, because we think that a better smile really allows people to be more confident and leads a better life.
DH: If we have to set a specific goal, it would be to get people know about us.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What is the most valuable thing or a life lesson that you’ve learned so far in your entrepreneurship? What is some advice that you think is worth sharing with your peers who are also trying to start their business?
DH: Building something meaningful takes time.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity and style.