Lebanese teeth-straightening D2C startup Basma raises $1.2 million seed

Beirut-based direct-to-consumer (D2C) dental startup Basma has raised $1.2 million in a seed round led by Lebanese VCs; B&Y Ventures Partners and Cedar Mundi Ventures, it announced today. The round was also joined by Beirut-based iSME, and some business angels.

Founded last year by an orthodontist, Cherif Massoud, Basma is a SmileDirectClub-like startup that sells invisible aligners, as an alternative to (metal) braces, to help people straighten their teeth. It also sells a whitening kit.

“[We] want to give customers straighter and brighter teeth,” noted the statement by the startup.

Basma sells the aligners (and whitening kit) internationally with a focus on the UAE & Saudi market. The startup claims that its aligners are 65 percent cheaper than braces.

The users first have to order an impression kit to take impressions of their teeth at home and send it back to Basma.

Basma’s orthodontists then design the treatment plan and show users a 3D simulation of what their future smile will look like (if it is determined that the user is not a good aligner candidate, Basma fully refunds the impression kit, its website claims).

Once a user confirms their treatment plan, Basma sends the aligners. The startup offers one-time (SAR 6,399 – USD 1,705), quarterly, and monthly payment plans for users to pay for aligners. They’re priced at SAR 6,399 ($1,705) if the payment is made in full, which is pretty close to what SmileDirectClub charges in the United States.

SmileDirectClub, founded in 2014, went public last year and currently has a market cap of $5 billion.

Cherif Massoud, the founder and CEO of Basma, commenting on the occasion, said, “7 out of 10 people in the Arab world can benefit from straighter teeth. But we think that everyone deserves to smile confidently. Aligners are the best alternative to braces, by changing the distribution channel and putting everything online, Basma cuts the treatment cost by up to 65%. Patients are constantly connected to doctors on our advanced telemedicine platform and are able to receive the treatment kit that will have a series of clear custom-fitted aligners, straight to their homes.”

“Basma understands the consumer desire to improve their smile discreetly and they have the tools to make it happen. Adults should not feel pressured to wear wired braces. They are looking for invisible braces that don’t affect their confidence and this is exactly what we can give them,” he added.

Bassel Attieh, Chairman and Managing Partner of Cedar Mundi Ventures, said, “We see much appetite for HealthTech and cosmetics services in the Middle East, both from consumers and professionals. And the teeth aligner industry is only getting started here. We believe in Basma’s bright future, building on local entrepreneurial and tech talents, and leveraging internationally-acclaimed remote professional initiatives for and from the region.”

The startup plans to use the investment to further push “it’s tech base” and fuel expansion in the Middle East & North Africa.

Update – Jan 27, 2019 – 1:10 PM GMT: A previous version of the article citing information on Basma’s website reported that they sell and ship in UAE & Saudi only. The startup reached out to us to explain that they sell and ship internationally with a focus on the UAE & Saudi market. The article was updated to reflect this. 

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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