The SmileDirectClub Co-Founder, Alex Fenkell, joined Juliet Muir at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit recently and shared his exclusive tips on entrepreneurship and the fundamental values needed to make the best impact. Learn more about pairing vision with execution to make your business dream a reality in this Forbes Under 30 Spotlight with Alex Fenkell.
Interviewer Juliet Muir: I wanted to ask you, you are back in Detroit, and I know this is where you founded your company Smile Direct Club. Can you talk to me about what it’s like to be back here right now?
Co-Founder Alex Fenkell: Detroit’s home for Jordan and I, it’s where the company started, and to be back at the Forbes under 30 events is humbling to be in the same space as some of the people that are here today.
Jordan and I, we started the company in 2014, we met at summer camp, and we both had a full mouth of mettled wired braces, which I don’t know if you’ve had them, is a truly miserable experience.
As George and I grew up in Detroit and became business partners we were reflecting back on that pain point in our youth, and we figured, there just has to be a better way to go about this, so we actually came across some EHS data and it showed that 6 out of 10 US counties don’t have access to an orthodontist. So, the opportunity became pretty apparent for us that if we can connect state-licensed dentists and orthodontists, because millions of people can benefit from a straighter smile, and that was an opportunity to help people.
So, we set out to democratize orthodontists and pioneered the world’s first teledentistry platform, and to date, we’ve helped over 750,000 people get a smile that they love.
Interviewer Juliet Muir: What’s your biggest tip that you are going to give the people attending this summit?
Co-Founder Alex Fenkell: The biggest tip I would say is patience, if you’re an entrepreneur I have three core values that I look at, one of them is the vision, what are you setting out to accomplish? What intrinsic value are you bringing your customers? What difference are you going to make in the world? The second, your execution, the lifeblood of any company is your ability to execute. I actually have a quote on my desk from Thomas Edison that says: “Vision without execution is just hallucination.” And then passion, passion is what fuels that execution, when you are starting a company from scratch, there are so many opposing forces that it’s easy to give up. I would say passion is that grip to keep going.
Interviewer Juliet Muir: Thank you so much for speaking with us today.
Alex Fenkell: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.