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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Slate Dental startup to launch flossing device

Dr. Danny and Brynn Snyder expect to begin selling the electric flossing device they invented by fall.  (By Virginia Thomas / Journal of Business )
By Virginia Thomas Journal of Business

A Spokane-based company has raised a total of $800,000 in funding for an electric flossing device, which is awaiting patents, and the owners hope to begin sales of the device to consumers by fall.

Slate Dental Inc. is owned by Brynn Snyder, Slate’s CEO, and her husband, Dr. Danny Snyder, who also owns Snyder Family Dental, on the South Hill.

The Slate flosser is a three-in-one device with a reusable flosser head, a tongue scraper, and silicone bristles to sweep between the tooth and gum.

It includes an option for a flosser head specifically made to clean braces.

“We believe the game-changer is the gum sweeps and the ability to clean areas that haven’t been cleaned,” Brynn Snyder said. “Anyone can make a vibrating flosser. That’s not what makes it special. What makes it special is our silicon gum sweeps and bristles to clean (braces) brackets, the tooth, and the gums.”

Snyder said she hopes to see annual revenue of up to $8.4 million, depending on how quickly the company grows.

“The toothbrush industry is a $3 billion industry, and the water flosser is a $1 billion industry, so that’s $4 billion worth of oral home health care items, but there’s no electric flosser,” Snyder said.

In 2019, Danny Snyder began researching creating an electric flossing device with reusable flosser heads.

“He invented these patent-pending gum sweeps,” Brynn Snyder said.

Because dental offices were shut down for about two months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Danny Snyder had time to develop the Slate flosser.

“The week before the pandemic (restrictions) started, he took all of our savings and invested it into the product,” Brynn Snyder said.

In October, the Slate flosser launched on Kickstarter, where the flosser raised $194,000, she said. Slate sold 3,500 flossers in the Kickstarter round.

“We realized, once the Kickstarter was over, that to launch the product, we needed to have more funds to be able to order more product as need for it came about,” she said. “We used our connections in Spokane, and as I was looking, I found Spokane Angel Alliance.”

Through Spokane Angel Alliance, Slate raised more than $600,000.

The company is having the devices manufactured overseas.

“We just placed a 10,000-unit order,” she said. “It will be here sometime in the fall. We’re hoping for September.”

The Slate flosser retails online on Slate’s website for $79.99. A package of reusable floss heads is $20. Both currently are sold out.

“We will be putting pre-orders on our website in September, and then we’ll fulfill them as soon as we’re able,” Snyder said.

Snyder said the company has two models for growth, depending on how well the flosser sells.

“We have the slow growth model, where we’ll be able to have (annual) revenue of $1.2 million,” Snyder said.

“Or if we have the high-growth model, and we’re able to sell only 120,000 units, we’d be able to have revenue of $8.4 million. It depends on how we’re able to market and if we’re able to hit the goals we think we can.”

The couple are currently the only employees at Slate.

“We’re looking to hire three to four new people,” Snyder said. “This round of funding will help us do that. Once we have product, then we’ll be hiring.”

Positions Slate will hire for will include marketing, sales, and design, Snyder said.

Snyder said the Slate flosser was well-received by dental hygienists who tested the product.

“We sent it out to 500 hygienists to see if this is a product they’d recommend and use,” Snyder said. “About 75% of them said it was better than anything that existed on the market, and 20% of them said it was as good as anything on the market.”

Snyder said that periodontal disease is a common dental issue in the U.S., especially among older people.

It’s one reason that the handle of the Slate flosser is as bulky as a typical electric toothbrush, she said.

“Some people said, ‘You could maybe make it skinnier,’ but we want elderly people to be able to hold it,” Snyder said. “They’re the people (most likely to have) periodontal disease, and the only way to fix it is to stimulate the gums, and to get the plaque and bacteria out of the neck of the gums.”