Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Teeth whitening is a $10 billion market worldwide. Since the 1980s, hydrogen peroxide has been the industry standard, but it poses a number of problems; it must be applied repeatedly, it wears away enamel and can even act as a carcinogen.
SafeWhite in Columbus, Ohio, has developed a technology that makes teeth whiter with just one application, without wearing down enamel. Each application places a smooth, microscopic layer of whitening proteins on the teeth, using a synthetic material that resembles the proteins mussels use to latch onto rocks in the ocean. These proteins emit light, which gives users a healthy, brighter smile.
“Your teeth will look noticeably whiter after just one use and the treatment lasts one to three weeks,” said Ray Shealy, CEO of SafeWhite. “A lot of people say they’re offering a non-peroxide teeth whitener, but 99% of those products are still derivatives of harmful hydrogen peroxide. No one else has a non-peroxide whitener like ours.”
During early development of SafeWhite, the company received funding from Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. They also participated in Rev1’s Concept Academy to determine their space in the market.
“Concept Academy helps you discover if the company you are developing is something customers actually want,” said Ada Sierraalta, Director of Operations at SafeWhite. “We were able to find out what kind of whitening experience people wanted, how much they’d be willing to pay and how often they’d want to apply the coating for the whitening effect. Identifying those things really helped us pin down our product specifications.”
SafeWhite’s office and wet lab space are located within Rev1 Labs incubator facilities. The company recently received a $1.25 million Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund from Ohio Third Frontier, allowing them to accelerate the development of their teeth whitening product. Shealy’s goal is to raise an additional $700,000 by the end of 2015 and go to market in 2016. The company already has interest from several big consumer product brands.