It probably isn’t too hard for you to envision an unsettling scenario at the dentist’s office. And it probably involves a large and menacing drill.
But allow me to pose a different type of scenario – a pain that frequently happens on the other side.
Say you operate a small dental practice and your hygienist just called in at 6:30 in the morning to tell you she’s ill and won’t make it in today. You have 10 patients scheduled for the day ahead, and more than $3,000 in production on the line. Going it alone isn’t really an option.
These types of unanticipated situations can be a source of teeth-grinding anxiety for the more than 2,400 dental offices in Minnesota. The existing solution involves reaching out to a staffing agency and hoping for the best. But a new startup based in Minneapolis is looking to bring relief quickly… er, Kwikly.
Formed in October of 2016 by cofounders Pedram Nastaean and Yomiyu Hirpa — Kwikly is a platform that connects dental temps with offices through the sort of on-demand, uberized model that is reinventing industries of all types.
The idea is that when dentists need help on short notice, they’ll be able to request it via Kwikly, and then have positions filled by employees who receive notifications of opportunities through the platform’s mobile app. It’s a straightforward product, but the need for it became apparent to Nastaean.
“My mom was working as a dental temp with a staffing agency in town,” he explains, adding that it became difficult to ignore her legitimate gripes with the inefficient framework. “Offices weren’t able to find temps on time. Communications sucked between agencies. They all operated very conventionally, using archaic systems with spreadsheets and phone calls.”
The two friends and entrepreneurs believe their software brings a welcome injection of modernization.
“We’re trying to make it a sharing economy where professionals can hop on their phone and pick up shifts when they need so they can meet dentist’s demand,” says Hirpa.
After accepting a gig, the temp then works the shift and gets paid. Kwikly earns its fee as a percentage upmark on the employee’s compensation.
Lacking much background in this industry, Nastaean and Hirpa have enlisted the help of another local entrepreneur in the dental space; Dr. Brian Laskin, whose OperaDDS software is used by offices around the state, is on board as an advisor.
With his help, Kwikly has gotten some early adoption after launching this year, with about 25 users on the worker side and about 25 offices participating. The founders say their app is functioning smoothly and they’re already earning revenue. They hope to double both those totals within the coming months.
Their market is large here in the Twin Cities, and enormous nationally, so Kwikly has some real potential to grow. But the men behind it – who hope to start scaling out beyond Minnesota’s borders within a year – recognize the biggest obstacle they face if they want to sink their teeth into that opportunity.
“The biggest thing for us is being able to recruit a quality pool of staff,” says Hirpa. “If offices request once or twice and have bad experiences, are we going to get that customer back?”
Whether they can fulfill their goal of recruiting a pool of 60 to 70 effective temps by the end of the year, and then continue to supplement that roster going forward, could well be the make-or-break factor for this fledgling venture.