What if your toothbrush told you how long you needed to brush? A forward-thinking startup has designed just that — toothbrushes that improve dental health while streamlining this daily routine.
Simon Enever, a British expat, founded Quip after his first visit to an American dentist.
“I had never been in a dental office for such a long period of time, and as a product designer, I filled out this time by asking the dentist about his opinion on the oral care product market,” Enever said.
While talking with the dentist, Enever realized that many of the claims made by large toothbrush or toothpaste manufacturers are misleading. The key, his dentist told him, is not how many cool features or add-ins your toothbrush has, but whether you stick to a simple routine: a two-minute brushing technique twice daily, new brush heads every three months, and dental visits every six months.
“What I found most interesting about everything he said was that it kept coming back to guiding good habits,” Enever said. “So the idea for Quip was born: a brand (and a brush) that removed all the gimmicks, to focus on the basics that are by far the most important, and to do so in a way that was affordable for everyone.”
Quip sells a number of different toothbrushes, but the general theory behind them is simple — “nudging” users to follow the best practices recommended by dentists. Quip’s electric toothbrush sets, which retail for $25-$40 on the website, vibrate every 30 seconds to remind you to switch quadrants in your mouth and automatically shut off after two minutes. The company’s subscription service automatically mails replacement heads for $5 every three months.
Quip’s toothbrushes are cheaper, smaller, lighter and more stylish than the leading electric toothbrushes. And because of the two-minute reminders, dentists say they probably do a better job of cleaning your teeth.
And there’s more to come for Quip. Soon the company will be branching out into more traditional marketing platforms, so you may start hearing about Quip more often. This year, Quip will also launch new digital features as well as a new product.
Enever said the company faced some initial roadblocks when deciding where to manufacture the brushes. Plagued by delays and problems with quality control, it seemed like the idea wouldn’t work at times.
“The first nine months of our operation were hugely held back by supply and quality issues, and it has only been since the winter and the new supply chain that we have been able to start growing properly,” he said.
Fortunately, the company has now found a reliable manufacturer in Shenzhen (the same city where Apple products are made) and the new Quip toothbrushes are consistently high quality.
Enever says entrepreneurship isn’t easy.
“Nothing happens without the sleepless nights and pure dedication that seem to be a gene of any entrepreneur I have ever met,” he said, adding, “There will never be anyone that cares quite as much as you do about fixing the many issues that arise while trying to build a company!”
The story of Quip is an example of what can happen when an entrepreneur takes an industry that has barely changed in a century and dares to think differently.
Daniel Huizinga is a columnist for Opportunity Lives covering business and politics. Follow him on Twitter @HuizingaDaniel.