Website of the Year

Toothpick

Sandeep Senghera talks about the real-time booking platform for dental appointments.

Toothpick is an online, real-time booking platform for dental appointments. Patients go to Toothpick.com and browse, compare and review dental service providers, and book straight into the dentist’s calendar over a real-time connection. Toothpick has already helped over a million people find dentist appointments, and in the process helped participating dentists fill their calendars to the tune of £20M. We talk to co-founder, Sandeep Senghera, to find out more.

What was the inspiration for the site?
Tooth decay is currently the number one reason for children being admitted to A&E. A large proportion of the UK population has not seen a dentist in the past two years. These are worrying trends that can largely be attributed to problems in the marketplace, one being lack of access (both NHS and private) and transparency around availability and prices. The founders launched Toothpick after surveying 1,000 dental practices and discovering that more than half didn’t even pick up the phone, and only 40% had a website with basic information about their services. Toothpick exists to bridge that gap and make a substantial impact on the nation’s oral health.

When did you launch the site?
Toothpick was launched in March 2013.

What are your greatest challenges?
Letting the business mature naturally. Scaling a business takes time, and artificially accelerating it can sometimes be counter productive. We have been lucky to have access to mentors with extensive experience of growing very successful businesses. In many instances, the same execution is needed regardless of the business model and we have definitely learnt to take advice and pace ourselves whilst keeping our core objectives and personal business vision front of mind.

What's your background?
Upon gaining my postgraduate dental qualifications, I built a successful private Dental Clinic in Central London, which I later sold in order to embrace and develop the technology necessary to create Toothpick. Working in the field made me appreciate the need for making dentistry a more consumer-friendly business.

Who do you admire in business?
I admire game changers - people that have taken a big risk to change the world in a positive way forever, no matter how big or small. Founders like Travis Kalanick of Uber and Brian Chesky of Airbnb have completely changed the way we move around by successfully challenging massive industries. That takes guts, perseverance, foresight and belief.

Please recommend a website that helps you promote or run your business or that you simply couldn't live without.
Salesforce enables us to efficiently manage the billing, leads and communications for our large customer base

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?
Stay focused on achieving your core business KPIs. Whilst other opportunities surface, distraction is one of the most dangerous things for a start up.

What is your motto?
Know your market. We have reached a market leading position by truly believing in what we do, and by listening intently to our customers. Professional industries need professional suppliers who understand their market very well. Keeping that core ethos, whilst at the same time disrupting the industry is sometimes difficult to balance but it’s the only way forward.

Where do you see the business going from here?
Growth for 2015 is set to soar as we start to power dental bookings on the UK’s leading directories. Projections for 2015 are for 1 in 4 UK dental practitioners to have live availability on the platform.

Have you entered an award before? If so, which one, why did you enter and if you did well, tell us about it.
Toothpick was shortlisted as one of the best health tech startups in Europe, for the Europas 2014.

Toothpick was highly commended in this year's GWG Awards.

November 2014