Turning Tides, One Tooth at a Time
As a school boy, every time he had a vacation, Dr Devaiah Mapangada was irritated by the need to visit a hospital 21 km away from his home, to get his penicillin shots. He would often wonder — why could the hospital not come to him instead. “Maybe,” Dr. Devaiah, fondly known as Dr. Dev, speculates, “this is where my story began.” In a country where 30,000 dentists graduate every year, Mobident — earlier ‘the dental clinic in a suitcase’ and now ‘a Digital Dentistry’ — is quickly gaining widespread acceptance and momentum.
After completing a fellowship in geriatric care in Zurich, Dr Dev returned to India and aspired to do something different in the healthcare industry. In 2008, he approached some of the senior dentists to gauge the market demand for a mobile dental clinic. They strongly discouraged him, but he followed his conviction, purchased a chassis, and built a mobile clinic for himself. He gradually began scaling up with the aim to transform this individual effort into a full-fledged venture. It was at this important juncture that he reached out to Vivek Madappa, a consummate entrepreneur possessing an exemplary portfolio of successful brands. Vivek, with his strong business sense, entered the fray and decided to revamp the whole idea to conceptualise the world’s first ever Portable Dental Clinic (PDC).
“Have a dream to solve a big problem in India. Believe in the dream and take that step. The dream must have a purpose, and purpose must be to serve.”
Challenging times lay ahead: Vivek believes his experience with building brands did not prepare him enough, he believes, for building from scratch a new product with no expressed customer demand. Hiring and training dentists also proved taxing as they were not used to working in a structured environment.
Consequently, with the spectre of a stagnant market looming, Dr Dev realised that he needed to hit the market at the earliest. Thus, he had to undertake and complete a demanding task: designing the core product in a mere four months. Next, the duo found out that India is not a fertile ground for product building. No one in India was able to fabricate the PDC, leaving them with no option but to fabricate it themselves.
In spite of all these unforeseen setbacks, they did not lose hope or determination. Realising the need to build an ecosystem around their core product, they have now expanded and have positioned themselves as a ‘Digital Dentistry’. The focus, however, remains on innovation. They now aim at enabling 10,000 dentists to deliver dental care across 250 towns in India by providing them with portable clinics and leveraging technology to manage operations.
With Dr Dev’s passion for doing something new and Vivek’s perseverance to see the dream realized, Mobident has created noteworthy ripples. Today, they dream of having a million customers a month. That dream is not so far away from reality!