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Indonesian dental startup in talks for pre-Series A funding

Rata to provide online dentistry services and cheap aligners amid COVID crisis

Rata is offering Indonesians cheap, clear aligners that it produces in-house.    © Reuters

JAKARTA -- Indonesian dental technology startup Rata is in advanced talks to raise a pre-Series A funding round, which is set to be backed by existing investor Alpha JWC Ventures, as well as other regional investors.

Declining to disclose the size of the round, Rata co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Deviana Maria told DealStreetAsia the deal was expected to be closed by the end of the year.

Alpha JWC invested in Rata's seed round in August in its first dental startup deal in Indonesia.

Launched in May 2019 by dentists Maria and husband Edward Makmur, Rata claims to be the first company in Indonesia to have developed the technology to produce aligners (that straighten teeth) in-house, which it sells directly to customers.

The fresh capital, she said, will be used to finance the implementation of more artificial intelligence and automation especially in the aligner production environment, and also to develop technology solutions to ease the entire process for customers.

The infusion of capital comes as Rata is reverting to its original online model, after COVID-19 shut down most dental clinics in Indonesia.

The company started out offering a fully online service, providing tele-consultations, producing and delivering aligners without customers having to leave their homes. However, it soon decided to also open physical clinics to build trust in a market which at the time was not accustomed to online dental services.

COVID-19 forced it to temporarily shut those clinics. However, Maria said its online roots have helped it continue to grow during the pandemic.

"When COVID-19 happened, we knew how to still get customers on board, even if they were staying. By serving them online, we managed to still grow during COVID-19, but not to the level of pre-COVID," she said.

According to its website, Rata claims to have served over 12,000 patients in just over a year.

To capitalize on the online momentum, Rata is set to launch an app by the end of November. The platform, Maria said, would have an in-app chat feature to allow better communication between customers and dentists, and also include features that will remind and keep track of a customers' use of their clear aligners.

Affordable clear aligners are much in demand, given the high price of the few options available in the market. Over the past few years, the main player in Indonesia's clear aligner industry is Invisalign, a multinational dental company headquartered in California. The company charges around 50 million rupiah ($3,560) to assess and fit clear aligners.

Last year, Singapore-based dental startup Zenyum, backed by Sequoia and several other investors, expanded its operation in Indonesia. According to its website, Zenyum's price starts at 12.9 million rupiah. Rata, meanwhile, charges 9.9 million rupiah.

Maria claims Rata's affordable prices stems from its home-turf advantage and its local production house. "We know how much the Indonesian market is willing to spend on dental, so we curate the price that is as affordable as possible," she said.

Rata, which derives most of its revenue from the sale of its clear aligners, also generates additional income from services provided by its clinics. To increase revenue, Maria said Rata was looking beyond its direct-to-customer approach, and into a business-to-business model by partnering with fellow dentists and supply them with clear aligners.

Being dentists themselves, Maria and her partner know the difficulties of setting up clinics, and providing affordable aligners is one of those.

"We want to join hands with dentists all over Indonesia to move forward together, so Rata will help in terms of marketing and providing clear aligner technologies for the dentists to provide to their customers," she said.

For the original story from DealStreetAsia, click here.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore that focuses on private equity, venture capital and corporate investment activity in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, India and greater China. Nikkei owns a majority stake in the company.

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