With the Indonesian middle class continuing to flourish, many consumers are departing from the past by prioritizing dental aesthetics, oral wellness, and cosmetic dentistry.
Indonesia’s economy has been growing for the past 50 years. In 2020, the World Bank counted at least 52 million “economically secure” Indonesians, amounting to one out of every five people. The middle class has acted as a big driver in the nation’s story of economic growth. Its household consumption rate grew by 12% yearly between 2002 and 2020.
Meanwhile, Ken Research recently predicted that the Indonesia dental services market will generate revenues worth US$4 billion in 2026, driven by factors that include rising dental consciousness, growing demand in the dental aesthetics industry, a changing technological landscape, and higher insurance coverage across the country.
Bringing dental aesthetics to the people
Recognizing the need for improved dental services in the country, six entrepreneurs banded together during the pandemic to launch KLAR Smile, a business aimed at making treatment of malocclusion – or poorly aligned teeth – and other aspects of oral health more convenient and affordable to consumers across the economic spectrum.
In a round co-led by AC Ventures (ACV), KLAR received US$4.5 million pre-series A funding in September of 2022.
On a recent podcast episode hosted by Helen Wong of ACV, KLAR CEO and co-founder Ellen Pranata drilled down how she and her colleagues have created a sustainable business model that will help to solve some of the main dental problems for Indonesians.
What are the needs?
Despite rising consumer consumption levels, locals haven’t traditionally considered dental aesthetics, or oral wellness in general, a top consideration for spending, said Ellen. She added, “In general, our population hasn’t been very aware of the need for oral care.”
The CEO pointed to a high rate of cavities, especially among children, as well as a high rate of malocclusion, among 80% of the population. Malocclusion is a major contributor to the development of cavities, she explained.
It hasn’t helped either that, in a land of more than 275 million people, dental providers are still few and far between, especially in the nation’s remote and rural areas.
A new awareness of aesthetics
Now, though, with more people seeking a “great smile,” oral wellness is starting to get the recognition it deserves. “An increasing awareness of personal aesthetics has already driven the Indonesian population to embrace cosmetic dental treatment. We will keep growing as we operate in parallel with the cosmetic dental treatment market,” Ellen shared.
KLAR is taking a multi-pronged approach to improving treatment for malocclusion and other aspects of oral health care. For starters, all six co-founders come to the table with deep backgrounds across different aspects of the oral health space.
In addition, for the treatment of malocclusion, KLAR offers custom-made clear orthodontic aligners instead of much more costly metallic braces, which can cause embarrassment to wearers and require years of visits to hard-to-find orthodontists.
Much of the treatment is remote
The company has also established partnerships with more than 1,000 dentists at 800 clinics throughout the archipelago. Although some of these dentists are orthodontic specialists, they don’t need to be. KLAR also maintains an orthodontic and custom manufacturing team at its offices outside Jakarta. Through industry contacts, KLAR is able to obtain reduced rates on materials.
Via a mobile app, customers can get a pre-screening to find out if they might benefit from dental alignment treatment. Users can also obtain referrals through the app to a dental provider near where they live and obtain smile and dental tips from KLAR.
In between visits, dentists keep in touch with patients remotely to monitor their treatment progress, thus reducing the amount of time that customers need to spend sitting in (and traveling to and from) a dentist’s chair.
Enjoy the full episode for free on Spotify, Apple, and Google.
Meeting the massive need for better dental care in Indonesia
See also: Disrupting Indonesia’s oral wellness space, Klar Smile bags US$4.55M
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