Carolina Calderón is at the helm of a fast-growing startup with big ambitions to shake up the multi-billion dollar dental industry.
The computer science graduate is the technical genius behind DENTIDESK, a cloud-based bilingual software management system for dental practices. The pioneering platform optimizes every single aspect of daily clinical and administrative tasks. Calderón, who holds a CS bachelor’s degree from Chile and post-grad from UC Berkeley, ‘coded the entire software’ herself over a period of seven months.
Launched in 2013, DENTIDESK is an inspirational success story for Latina entrepreneurs. Following a stint as a highflying software engineer in Silicon Valley, Calderón decided to return to her native Chile in 2010 after a mega-quake hit her hometown. “I feared I would never see my family again and made the decision to return to my country.”
While helping out family, her uncle, a longtime dentist, asked if she could better organize his patient data uploaded to Microsoft Excel. Calderón set out to find existing software to upgrade this process. What she discovered was that a viable solution didn’t exist. “That’s when I decided I was going to create it for him,” says Calderón. “As a programmer, I am passionate about making solutions.”
Calderón then spent months coding the first iteration of her product. So DENTIDESK began as a side project and has developed to become what it is today.
“As I began to show the DENTIDESK solution to other dentists, they, too, shared their frustrations about the widespread lack of specialized dental-practice software,” says Calderón, founder and CEO of DENTIDESK. “They also shared insight into their different specialty areas so our development team would understand the flow of their data and how they need to interact with the data. Iteration ensued — and continues.”
Most dental practices around the world continue to work in antiquated and decentralized systems, adds Calderón. But with her venture, “dentists can effortlessly manage everything they have while they spend more time with patients.”
DENTIDESK is intuitive and customizable. The software connects with other treatment-specific technologies such as X-ray machines and allows dentists to manage everything related to their business from one centralized hub. That’s everything from payroll and appointment scheduling, to supply inventory and patient records.
However, dentists are not the only customers. DENTIDESK has partnerships with universities that are educating the next generation of dentists. The software is being used by teachers and dental-school students to support tech-based teaching and training.
Headquartered in Chile, today DENTIDESK has customers sprawled across 17 Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. Serving around 350 dental practices and 7,000 individual dentists, the bootstrapped B2B startup has doubled its revenue every year since inception. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) amounts to roughly $35,000 and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The subscription business model, says Calderón, has a 99% client retention rate.
This success hasn’t gone unnoticed. Peru’s PQS refers to DENTIDESK as the most used dental software in Latin America. In 2017 Calderón was recognized by reputable Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, as one of the leading 100 women business leaders in the country.
Calderón is a mission-driven founder. As a techie, she is deeply passionate about technology and how it interfaces with society to improve our lives. “We’ve had five years of bootstrapping because we believe in the vision of creating world-class technology for every dentist in the world,” she says.
This year DENTIDESK took a bold step to expand internationally. Calderón moved back to the States, this time on the East Coast, after being accepted into Quake Capital’s highly-competitive 3-month accelerator program. She moved with her family (the husband she met in Chile who now doubles up as DENTIDESK’s CFO with their four-year-old daughter in tow). CTO Claudio Gonzalez and the rest of the 16-strong Latinx-led team remain in Chile and in neighboring countries to continue operations there.
“We’ve had five years of bootstrapping because we believe in the vision of creating world-class technology for every dentist in the world.”
One of the benefits of joining the Quake’s NYC cohort is that DENTIDESK has now received its first investment. Quake offered $200,000 in exchange for a 7% equity. Aside from the cash injection, Calderón says she has also gained invaluable access to an extensive network of investors and strategic partners.
They are now looking to raise a further $500,000 in seed funding for sales, marketing, and customer acquisition.
Significantly, the move to New York City is just the right amount of fuel needed for DENTIDESK to aggressively pursue expansion in the States. “This was the initial push I needed in order to be here.”
With one dental practice in Las Vegas already signed up, DENTIDESK is gearing up to officially launch in the U.S. in September 2019. They are ideally positioned to capitalize on the shifting U.S. demographics, with the Census Office predicting a spike in Spanish language speakers over the coming years. The plan, says Calderón, is to focus on urban hubs such as NYC and Miami, which have high concentrations of Latin American dentists and patients.
DENTIDESK’s user-friendly bilingual interface enables clients to seamlessly switch between English and Spanish. “No one is really looking at the bilingual trend in the dental industry,” says Calderón.
With a new pricing strategy for the U.S. market, the opportunities for revenue growth are exponential. There are over 200,000 practicing dentists in the U.S.
Calderón is laser-focused on identifying and addressing the needs that will arise in dental practices over the coming years. She says they are even exploring options to integrate AI technologies. With all the success DENTIDESK has had, this tech-savvy Latina founder is well on her way to the top.