Ladder works is a publishing platform for various picture books and online programs whose mission is to empower more than one million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features our interplanetary journalist Spiffy’s interviews with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders advancing the UN SDGs.
Good morning! My name is Spiffy, I’m an interplanetary journalist. I spoke with innovators around the world who are working to make the world a better place. Today’s guest is Yashar Faranjani, co-founder and CEO of Smiletronix, Inc.
Nice : Hi Yashar, thank you so much for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is Smiletronix, Inc tackling?
Yachar: Glad to be here, Spiffy! Dental diseases are among the major untreated chronic diseases in the world, tooth decay is the first and gum disease is the sixth. There is a lack of access to care in all countries, developing and developed. Yet most of these problems are preventable. At Smiletronix, Inc, we are developing a simple and scalable solution to improve tele-dentistry and automate part of it using machine learning, so patients can check themselves regularly, get personalized feedback to prevent problems and act quickly when problems arise. This will reduce the cost of care and the burden on care providers.
Nice : What motivated you to do it?
Yachar: I have always been enterprising and driven to never accept the existing paradigm. Always looking to improve. On top of that, having been part of my Business Schools Impact investment fund, I am a proponent of making an impact. With Smiletronix, I satisfy not only my entrepreneurial spirit, but also my true north of having an impact in whatever one chooses to do.
Nice : You work for UN SDG 3: Good health and well-being. Can you develop the same?
Yachar: We are democratizing healthcare and providing a vital service. Everyone has a mouth and the UN classifies good oral health as a human right. A smile is often the first thing someone notices, and healthy teeth have been proven to impact employment, nutrition and quality of life. We strive to bring that to the world by bringing a product that has impact and improves accessibility.
Nice : Tell me about a recent company milestone or initiative and how it impacted your community.
Yachar: We recently launched the lite version of our product (app only). We also launched a marketing campaign and achieved 2.5,000 downloads in April alone on a very modest budget, ten times more than our monthly growth. We are targeting the United States as well as other countries where the demand for easy, remote and automated dental care is increasing. This app-only product is freemium and allows users to get a free hygiene check and recommendations to improve their hygiene score.
Nice : Please share an experience where you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from this?
Yachar: During the pandemic, like most organizations, we have been under intense pressure. Our funding cycle collapsed early on, and as a startup with no product or revenue, we didn’t have many options. Our team has disbanded. Yet we had a product in development that was in demand. The dental market suffered from the lack of visits and professionals started coming to us for help with remote dental care. It inspired me to keep pushing to find a way to revive Smiletronix. In the winter of 2020, we managed to bring a strategy on board that kick-started our renewal. Despite losing the team, including a co-founder, I’ve learned not to give up and see when the cup is half full.
Nice : Wow, it’s already quite a trip, I wish you the best for the future! Thank you for speaking with me today, Yashar, it was an honor!
Innovative and futuristic, Yashar Faranjani always comes up with new ways to solve problems. When he’s not stretching his mind to Smiletronix, Inc., he stretches his body and soul by practicing yoga at the beach. As a foodie, amateur chef and barbecue master, he will never leave you hungry. (First published on the Ladderworks website on May 5, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Artwork of Spiffy by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks Digital Curriculum to help children in K-3 advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy’s Corner here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.