A toothbrush start-up buys an insurer so it can cover your dental visits, too

  • Toothbrush start-up Quip is acquiring Afora, a dental insurance company.
  • Quip started selling electric toothbrushes online in 2015 and has been cultivating a network of consumers.
  • Similar to other online direct-to-consumer personal-care brands like Harry's and Dollar Shave Club, Quip offers subscriptions.
Quip electric toothbrushes hang on a bathroom mirror by a suction strip on the brush holder.
Quip electric toothbrushes hang on a bathroom mirror by a suction strip on the brush holder.

Quip wants to be more than a toothbrush company. As part of its quest, it is acquiring dental insurance start-up Afora for an undisclosed amount.

Quip started selling electric toothbrushes online in 2015 and has since been cultivating a network of consumers. Similar to other online direct-to-consumer personal-care brands like Harry's and Dollar Shave Club, Quip offers subscriptions.

The company wants to connect patients and dentists using its online platform. It reminds customers when it's time for a checkup and allows dentists to reward them for coming in by paying for replacement batteries and brush heads.

Afora sells basic dental insurance plans for $25 a month and a premium version for $45 a month. It covers two cleanings a year, a dental exam and X-rays. It lists prices on its website for extra procedures like having cavities filled.

Quip won't immediately integrate its toothbrushes with Afora's plans, but it could merge the two businesses over time, said Quip co-founder and CEO Simon Enever. Afora's founder Jeffrey Rappaport will join Quip as director of dental care.

"The key for us is this is not an overnight thing to complete the entire picture we've described," Enever said. "It's another step toward bringing together the pieces of the puzzle and helping people understand that using a toothbrush twice a day is truly connected to the experience you get and the treatment you need when you visit a professional."

Quip struck a financing deal with Silicon Valley Bank worth up to $10 million. The company closed a $10 million round of Series A funding in November with investors like Demi Lovato and Sherpa Capital, whose founders invested in eyewear start-up Warby Parker.

It's not the only newcomer interested in this space. Beam Dental started selling Bluetooth-connected toothbrushes and expanded into dental insurance after seeing an opportunity to use more than a year's worth of data it collected. The idea is to figure out which users are brushing and flossing their teeth and offer them cheaper rates and other incentives.