Burst Oral Care, a startup that sells an electric toothbrush boasting charcoal bristles and 33,000 sonic vibrations per minute, has raised a Series C of undisclosed size.
Although we don't know the amount of the round, the Series C was led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, and Burst says it more than doubled the valuation from its previous round. (Goldman Sachs' other direct-to-consumer investments include women's razor startup Billie, which was recently acquired by P&G.)
The startup also says it has hundreds of thousands of subscribers who don't just buy the $69.99 toothbrush but are also signed up to receive $6 replacement heads every 90 days. Co-founder and President Brittany Stewart argued that the need for a product like this has only grown in recent months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down many dentists' offices (dentists were facing some of the highest risks of exposure).
"The only care that you're getting is oral care at home," Stewart said.
As a result, she suggested that more dentists are pointing their patients to Burst as a way to keep their mouths in good shape until it's safe to get a professional cleaning. (Meanwhile, some of the factories that Burst works with in China were closed by the pandemic, but Stewart said the company had done enough inventory planning that subscriptions were not affected.)
Burst founders Hamish Khayat and Brittany Stewart
In fact, although Burst sells its toothbrush through a direct-to-consumer, subscription e-commerce model, it reaches new customers through a network of 25,000 "ambassadors" — namely, dental professionals who get a personalized discount code and referral fee for recommending the product.
This approach has prompted at some skeptical comparisons to multi-level marketing programs, but Burst and its investors have said it's closer to an affiliate model. And during our interview, co-founder and CEO Hamish Khayat suggested that one of the startup's real strengths compared other toothbrush and dental care startups is its involvement with the professional community.
"Since we started the company, we've been to every single dental show, we've been to dental offices, and through that we've garnered a very different set of knowledge," Khayat said.
Stewart added that as Burst develops new products, it's doing so in consultation with "thousands of dental professionals." It's already expanded beyond the toothbrush with products like floss, whitening strips and toothpaste, and Khayat said one of the big priorities in the comings months is launching a lineup of products for kids.
Burst previously raised a total of $20 million in funding. As part of the new investment, Goldman's Allison Berardo and Hillel Moerman are joining the company's board of directors.
"We are excited to back Brittany, Hamish, and the rest of the BURST team as they harness the power of the dental community to build a next-generation oral care business," Berardo said in a statement. "BURST has a clear vision and brand ethos and we believe they have meaningful runway ahead with regard to both their product suite and go-to-market strategy.”