At Mogul Millennial, we spend a lot of time talking to Black founders about launching startups or new products. One question often asked is, "How do we get people to find us and, more importantly, buy our product?"
For many entrepreneurs, customer acquisition is a major challenge. Unfortunately, we’ve seen numerous founders invest too much time, money, and resources into customer acquisition channels that are not working (and then they wait until it’s too late to pivot 😭🥴😭).
As an early-stage founder, it’s critical that you use your time and resources wisely, and if you can, zero in on a particular niche. This way, you can have more focus, and can hone in on targeted efforts as you lay the groundwork for your venture.
This is something that Tobi Bosede did with DentalFynd, which is an“Uber For Dentistry” startup that’s using AI to democratize dentistry.
DentalFynd’s Origin Story
Tobi Bosede is currently the CEO of DentalFynd, but before then, she built AI tools for major organizations such as Capital One. While working at Capital One, Tobi faced the frustration of finding a dentist. “I had dental insurance, but even with that, I would have to pay 4K …with dental insurance. I decided to call different offices and shop around. I spent about a week going onto different websites for dentist’s pricing, cross-referencing that with online reviews, and then calling. I’m in pain, but I’m spending all this time researching,” Tobi shared in an interview with digitalundivided. “Eventually, I decided to go out of network and see a provider at a teaching hospital. It was another two weeks between finding the provider and being seen. So in total, there were three weeks of not just physical pain but also big expenses. It was just a compounding effect with no efficiency in the system.”
Motivated by this firsthand struggle, Tobi envisioned a tech-driven solution to democratize healthcare services. Using her background in tech, industry knowledge, and personal frustrations finding a dentist, Tobi started working on her idea.
Tobi's initial venture, Ilekun Health, was a general product that didn't solely focus on the dental industry. However, building it was a challenge. “It was a tough market in terms of getting people to pay for their health care, because a lot of people are very much like ‘oh, I have insurance,’ whereas we're all cash pay. But then with dentistry I learned that it's different,” Tobi shared with Mogul Millennial.
Soon after, she rebranded and zeroed in on the dentistry space. Now that they’ve rebranded to DentalFynd, they’ve attracted customers from both the patient and dentist sides, marking the beginning of their journey. “Overall, we're starting with dentistry by creating this retail shoppable experience. Eventually, we plan to expand beyond dentistry - whether it's with medicine or pet health, with veterinary care on demand,” Tobi said.
DentalFynd’s Customer Acquisition Journey
As aforementioned, we've witnessed early-stage entrepreneurs pour excessive time, money, and resources into customer acquisition strategies that yield lackluster results.
(1) Choose a clear path, (2) concentrate your efforts, (3) analyze the data, and (4) be quick to pivot when necessary. Even if you're targeting multiple audiences, it's crucial to establish clear KPIs.
At DentalFynd, they actually have three different customer personas.
“The first are small business owners, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors. Next are college students, recent grads, and Gen Zers (and that's actually our current focus). And then the last are senior citizens, and people who are in nursing homes or assisted living homes,” Tobi shared with Mogul Millennial. “We picked those three personas because more than often, those people are underinsured as it relates to dentistry.”
In DentalFynd’s early days, Tobi did several things to understand and acquire her customers. “We explored running ads, but at the early stage of a company, I don’t recommend doing that to acquire customers,” Tobi said. “Paid marketing is not the best use of funds at the beginning of a business because you have such limited funds. I definitely think that for growth stage companies, running ads makes more sense.”
Ads at DentalFynd were run for experimental purposes, and to test out different messaging. Beyond ads, giveaways, and door-to-door approaches at nursing homes were explored, but this was short-lived. “Baby boomers are not the most tech adept, and you kind of have to go through their millennial caretakers or the social worker to reach them. I decided that would be a later play for us,” Tobi shared.
To reach entrepreneurs, they joined Slack groups, as well as Facebook and WhatsApp groups - but they had varied success. They also organized events like “Coffee and Strolls'' covering the participants’ coffee, and we're able to get emails as a result of this. From there, they would convert those connections into active users.
Lastly, they pre-populated dentist profiles onto their platform, and proactively reached out to dentists to claim their profile. This strategy has been successful, and it has inspired their ongoing customer acquisition practices.
The biggest lesson we've learned from this?
Test and validate your customer acquisition strategies (in a cost-effective way). Scrutinize your data, and be ready to pivot if needed. Time and money are precious commodities so don't abuse it.
How DentalFynd Reduces Churn
In entrepreneurship, getting people to sign up for your platform or app is just the initial hurdle. The real challenge lies in keeping them engaged and interested.
At DentalFynd, they have over 6200 dentists listed on their platform, with more than 550 patients subscribed. Currently, their primary focus is attracting new sign ups, while also trying to minimize churn.
“For one, I think entrepreneurs should know that there’s always going to be churn - that’s just the nature of business. Churn is not always under your control. Sometimes people that you initially targeted just might not be a fit and you’ll learn that over time,” Tobi told Mogul Millennial. “It's good to have predefined personas for who your customers would be as a starting point. At the same time, it’s important that you’re flexible to other or new customer personas that could arise. You can get to this point by being really data-driven. We use Google Analytics to help get this data, and outside of this, there are other websites that enable you to go deeper and really understand the customer journey on your website."
No matter what, as Tobi shared, churn is inevitable. As long as you can deeply understand why people are leaving, and can create strategies to combat this, you’re good. This is something that Tobi learned after they rebranded from Ilekun Health to DentalFynd.
“Throughout that process, we actually had a dentist on the earlier version, but he churned as we rebranded. He churned because at that time we weren’t able to deliver on our stated values soon enough,” Tobi shared. “This person is a perfect example of someone that adopted early, but really became more of a laggard. His pain point wasn't acute enough, where he was willing to deal with our changes and the kinks as we evolved. My advice for others would be to really refine your pitch and properly set expectations to help reduce churn.”
Throughout this journey, Tobi learned invaluable lessons around customer acquisition and churn. As a result, she has refined DentalFynd’s value proposition and is working towards what’s next. Presently, DentalFynd serves New York, and has ambitious plans for expansion into other markets in the near future.
Learn more about DentalFynd here: https://dentalfynd.com/