Bynd Portfolio Founders Series

Smile2Impress

Smile2Impress is helping people smile fearlessly by providing top notch removable and invisible aligners and recurring online follow-ups with your doctor. They are the new generation of invisible orthodontics that is boosting confidence around Europe.

Vladimir Lupenko, co-founder & CEO at Smile2Impress

1. How did you come up with the idea for Impress?

The idea of creating Impress came from observing attentive market trends and the desire to find new opportunities to innovate and do more and better in the area of orthodontics. I, along with the other two founders — Diliara Lupenko and Dr. Khaled Kasem — realized that patients were limited between choosing deeply traditional orthodontic practices and essentially aesthetic procedures and we tried to use technology to innovate and offer a service differentiator that combines the two strands. Our goal was, above all, to create an excellent service that was affordable and worth the investment, something that we achieved in 2019 with the creation of the Impress brand.

2. How would you explain to a 5-year-old what Impress does?

Impress is characterized by a group of professionals dedicated to treating the appearance of teeth, without risking the patient’s health, leaving them straight teeth like piano keys. Basically, what we do is offer people the smiles of their dreams, without pain and in a short time.

3. How did you meet your co-founders and why do you believe you make a good match?

We already knew each other and, as a result of direct observation of trends, we simply realised that there was a gap in what consumers needed. Before Impress, a patient had a choice between very conservative, technology-averse orthodontic practices or a DTC company that only focused on cosmetic treatment. With Impress we tried to fill that gap in the market with the help of expert orthodontist Dr. Khaled Kasem and the business vision of two experienced young entrepreneurs, Diliara Lupenko and myself. The business is based exclusively on the doctor’s knowledge of the sector. This is not a cosmetic treatment, but a medical procedure that, while improving the health of our patients, gives them a new smile with which they can feel comfortable and confident about their image and appearance for the rest of their lives. And most importantly, without changing their lifestyle along the way.

4. What are the main takeaways and lessons learned you take from the previous ventures you founded before?

The biggest lessons I learned from past experiences were, without a doubt, how to do business less and less dependent on investors and foreign capital over time, but being able to trust those around us, our partners, to succeed build a sustainable and profitable business. Above all, the great lesson is not to be content with results and to always try to move forward, to do more and better, but through healthy growth. It is important that business is healthy, made of dedication and will, and not sacrifice.

5. What was your main focus in the first 12 months of the company to make it ready to scale?

In the first 12 months, our main focus was to be able to generate revenue as soon as possible and to study and apply the most favorable business model for us, in order to make it sustainable and ready to evolve. Above all, and after, at the beginning, evaluating and thinking about the business taking into account statistics and market studies, the main objective over the first few months was to adapt the business model according to the real interaction we had with our patients and partners and rely on real, proprietary statistics.

6. Why did you choose to establish your team in Spain?

Our choice was due to the fact that Spain is the largest market in Europe with regard to orthodontic treatments using aligners. If Spain is the number one country in the sector, we strategically wanted to settle there and contribute even more to a competitive market through our differentiating and revolutionary service based on the digitalization of orthodontics.

7. How do you define Impress’s culture in five or fewer words?

In five words, I would say that the Impress culture is distinguished by being transparent, dedicated, united, strong and full of love. When we love what we do and are surrounded by people who are family, we are sure that we are on the right path and that our culture is really different.

8. What is your vision for Impress 5–10 years from now?

Within 5–10 years, we want to be leaders in the invisible orthodontics sector. We want Impress to have even more international expansion and to be present in new continents, in addition to being recognized as the leading brand in the orthodontics sector. We have been working to revolutionize this sector through a differentiating medical approach, using technology, and it is our goal to continue to work so that this approach is always better and more valuable for our patients. Above all, we want to have this recognition on the part of patients and that we are their first choice.

9. What would be the one piece of advice you would share with a new founder?

It may sound cliché, but the biggest piece of advice I can give a founder is to believe and trust 100% in his value and in his work. When we truly believe in what we do, dedication, a sense of responsibility and the desire to do more and better will never be lacking. In addition, it is very important to have the right company at our side, who believes as much as we do and who can help achieve all objectives. We can dream and take the first step alone, but we will always need a united group, a family, willing to build a solid path for the success of a business.

10. What do you look for in a VC investor and what is the value-added that Bynd brings to the table?

What we look for in our investors is that they believe in the value of our work as much as we do and that they walk alongside us. In the case of Bynd, it has been, from the beginning, the right partner on this journey. In addition to trusting us and recognizing in our mission and work the value we want to pass on and, above all, adding to our patients, they have allowed Impress to grow, add successes and fulfill its main objective: to revolutionize invisible orthodontics as we know it through technology. Bynd has contributed to the success of Impress and we hope that it can continue to be part of it in the future that we still have ahead of us.

About The Series

Bynd Portfolio Founders Series invites the founders of the Startups backed by Bynd to share their experience creating a startup. With each of its episodes dedicated to a single startup or founder, it provides an informal, and deep look at the world of entrepreneurship.

Check our episode #1 with Andrés Cester, co-founder & CEO at Colvin, here.

Bynd Venture Capital

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