Nigerian millennials continue to drive the Nigerian economy forward. An increasing number of millennials are making the transition between paid employment and entrepreneurship.
Dr Yemisi is an entrepreneur, who started a mobile dental clinic ‘Dentist At your Door’ in 2017. Business Day caught up with Dr Yemisi Akintonwa, BDS to find out about her innovative business idea and entrepreneurship journey so far. Dr. Yemisi applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant in 2016, in attempt to acquire start up capital for her mobile dentist clinic that is currently taking dentistry to patients, wherever they are most comfortable.
Dr. Yemisi, what was your motivation to start Dentist at Your door ?
Dentist at your door was started because I felt that I could be more, give more and get more satisfaction as a dental professional. While I was in private practice I noticed that most of our patients cancelled their appointments at the last minute because of busy schedules and traffic. I saw an opportunity to fill the gap that patients were experiencing getting to the dentist. I decided that I was going to bring dental services to Nigerians, wherever they felt comfortable.
What inspired you to apply for the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant? The Tony Elumelu Foundation opportunity was a unique one in itself. It went far beyond the grant that was given. It gave my dream and idea validation and assured me that my idea was indeed a valuable one. Deciding to leave paid employment to take leap of faith and become a full time entrepreneur, I had fears and doubts. I often wondered if my idea would be well received by the Nigerian public. When I got the email saying that my idea was accepted and had qualified, I thought to myself that if my idea was chosen out of hundred of thousands of applications, then that was reason enough for me to pursue my idea.
How has the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant supported your business ?
As a dental professional, I had almost zero business knowledge and that was what TEF gave me during the 12 week program. The grant also gave me the opportunity to birth my idea by providing capital for me to purchase the equipment I needed to start Dentist On The Go. The Tony Elumelu foundation have provided support and great networking opportunities for the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs.
In your opinion, what market gap does Dentist at your door fill?
Dentist At Your Door fills a huge gap in the way basic dental services are provided by truly making dental care available, accessible, affordable and convenient. We also provide care to the class of people that feel dental care is a burden le geriatric patients, patients with special needs and mobility issues. I felt like I could fill the gap, between the patient and the dentist by creating a convenient way for the patient to meet their dental needs. I saw myself taking the clinic everywhere dental care was needed.
In your experience, how does entrepreneurship compare to paid employment?
When I was in paid employment I felt I was working too much. Presently the work I do is incomparable, I work 24hours, while I am driving. In fact, I sleep and dream of work. I never stop working . Entrepreneurship for me is constantly thinking of how to add value and also increase the value of my practice to my patients.In paid employment I had my job description and I worked within that to deliver my best. Currently my practice is my job description, I eat, sleep and breathe my work , however the the excitement and the immense satisfaction my patients get from my service drives me to do more and make more people aware of how inexpensive and accessible dental care cane in Nigeria. . It is the hardest thing I have ever done but I would not trade it for the best paying job, becauseI know I am on to something really beneficial to Nigerians.
As a mobile clinic, how do you ensure you comply with hygiene standards? Sterilization is extremely important to us not just for our patients, but for us as health care providers. We are affliated to a dental clinic called Asman Dental and this is where we carry out all our sterilization of instruments. Also we are equipped with enough instruments to carry out 15 teeth cleaning and 6 fillings
How often should people go to the dentist? Everybody should see the dentist at least twice a year, even children. This is so important because it helps for early detection of disease and any possible treatment. In dentistry prevention is CHEAPER than cure and also less painful.to feel beautiful and confident on their special day. We are currently offering a smile makeover targeted at brides that want bright white clean smiles on their special day. This package includes teeth cleaning, 2 sessions of teeth whitening before their wedding day. They also have a take home whitening kit to maintain the brightness from the comfort of their own home.The Dentist At Your Door Bridal Package is 75, 000.
How do you see your business growing in the next two years? I see Dentist At Your Door as the go to clinic for busy professionals and business owners. I see Nigerians, embracing their dental care and using our clinic to meet these oral hygiene needs. Dentist At Your Door will change the Nigerian oral care narrative.
Do you have any promotions coming up?
Dentist At Your Door, aims to provide a personal experience for all our clients. With wedding season fast approaching, Dentist At Your Door recognizes the need for brides day.In cases where we are at outreaches and school treatments, we sterilize on site with our portable autoclave to increase our capacity in a day.
Want to experience with Dentist at Your Door is like? Check out Dr Yemisi in action with blogger Raisa Hadiza.
You can follow Dentist At Your Door on Instagram.
Interview by Lehlé Baldé.