EBRD and EU business advice helps company reach thousands of patients globally
For 65 per cent less than the cost of conventional metal braces, Basma, a start-up based in Lebanon, is equipping patients with invisible teeth aligners delivered to their doorstep, guaranteeing a flawless smile in an average of six months.
With the help of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, last December Basma.com received business advice on information technology, funded by the European Union. This focused on creating a scalable online platform and strengthening the company’s ability to deliver the best customer experience to its patients. With support from a local consultant assigned to the company through the EBRD, the company also successfully built a seamless online customer journey that removes the need for a series of clinical visits and which turned out to be very handy during the Covid-19 crisis.
Throughout the pandemic, the company offered its patients a quick remote service that can be done in three simple steps at home. All the patient needs to do is order an impression kit, make an impression of their teeth, then post the kit back to Basma.com, which sends a tailored treatment plan and invisible aligners to the patient’s home.
With the lockdown and given the number of people in need of dental care who are unable to physically access a dentist’s clinic, the company’s sales have quadrupled in the last month. The EBRD helped Basma.com launch a new platform through which patients can easily receive medical assistance and treatment remotely. Dentists prescribe a customised treatment for every case and are connected directly to clients throughout the entire process. Basma.com provides the safer option of online payments instead of handling cash.
Since its launch, Basma.com has remotely assisted over 1,000 thousand patients. The biggest market was initially Saudi Arabia but now the company has patients from all over Europe and the Middle East, with international operations now accounting for 94 per cent of the business.
The founder of Basma.com, Dr Cherif Massoud, had practiced dentistry with his late father Dr Ghassan Massoud at a private clinic for a decade before developing an interest in working with invisible braces five years ago with an aim to produce his own alternative to traditional metal braces.
Dr Massoud says: “We started our company in 2016, with a mission to make teeth aligning treatment affordable and accessible by producing locally, and to go beyond the conventional service of requiring clinical visits to straighten one’s teeth. We understand the desire for a perfect smile and – more importantly – to achieve one without the pressures of wearing wired braces. Our new product provides a touch of luxury in that it boosts patients’ confidence, can be administered at home and helps us respond to our patients remotely, which also reduces costs.”
After his father passed away, Dr Massoud chose to start his new company. He was fortunate to find a motivated team that made the experience a rewarding one even given the struggles of starting the company.
Dr Massoud realised the impact his new dental service was having within his community and worldwide when he noticed that whereas he used to treat around 200 patients a year at his first clinic, through Basma.com they can treat 10,000. With a team of 25 people, half of whom are women, they developed 3D printed transparent teeth aligners in Lebanon for the first time and have expanded their client base with the help of a network of 200 dentists globally who believe in the new product.
From an initial investment by Dr Massoud and only three employees, the company grew rapidly with seed investments by angels in 2018 and 2019. This month, Basma.com won the Hub71 MENA Growth Competition for start-ups. This connected the company with many Saudi Arabian investors, and it is planning to raise US$ 10 million in October 2020 as part of its Series A funding to help plan ahead and further grow the business.
To date, the EBRD Advice for Small Businesses programme in Lebanon has helped more than 72 SMEs from different industries, with projects in marketing, strategy, financial management and quality management, among others.