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Exclusive: Toothio rakes in $4M for dental staffing

Illustration of a toothbrush with dollar bills as bristles.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Toothio, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based dental staffing tech company, raised a $4 million seed, CEO Ian Prendergast tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: As staffing shortages loom large in health care, dentistry vacancies have reduced dental practice capacity by about 10% nationally, according to the American Dental Association..

Details: The round was led by Craft Ventures, with participation from Burst Capital, Moving Capital, Revere Partners and Rho Capital Partners.

  • This round follows an initial backing of $300,000 from AZ Crown, founders of Insight Enterprises.

How it works: Founded last year, Toothio provides on-demand access to hygienists and assistants, connecting professionals with dental practices.

  • The platform's algorithm tracks data points like clocking in and out, ratings from dental offices, and shift acceptance rate — then computes a score with a two-way rating system.
  • Using that score, the platform identifies providers who qualify for a certain shift and sends out invites based on geolocation.

Flashback: Prendergast says he was prepared for a lengthy and intensive fundraising process, "and to get hammered on valuation" — but that's not what happened.

  • "It took us three-and-a-half months from start to finish and [we] ended up with a great mix of investors," he adds.
  • He declined to disclose Toothio's post-money valuation.

What's next: The funding has a full 18 months of runway, though Toothio will "have to walk a fine line between how much capital to put to work to show growth into the next year," Prendergast says.

  • Toothio will use proceeds to expand into key U.S. markets like Chicago and Orlando, Florida, as well as Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City.

Yes, but: "We can't scale too fast," says Prendergast. "That is how some companies die. So we need to be diligent about which markets to go into first, so that we provide the best experience possible for everyone involved."

What they're saying: "The consistent feedback from independent dentists and DSOs alike is that keeping the office staffed is the number one challenge," says Craft Ventures partner Jeff Fluhr.

  • The clear market need and Prendergast's career history — he was previously an executive at labor marketplaces Steady Install and Qwick — attracted Fluhr to the investment, he says.

Between the lines: While traditional staffing models rely on emails and phone communication to fill shifts, Toothio differentiates itself by offering software with mobile and desktop interfaces, Fluhr says.

  • Plus, the shift of preference for flexibility in work schedules is a fundamental trend not likely to end soon, he adds.
  • "Toothio's marketplace is perfectly suited to address this," he said. "More workers want to work flexible shifts and have the opportunity for more free time. Toothio helps dental professionals do exactly that."
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