Changing the way dental professionals connect with offices for job opportunities

Cloud Dentistry is a digital marketplace app that enables DSOs and on-demand dental professionals looking for work to connect based on location, ratings, and reviews

DSOPro: Tell us about your background and Cloud Dentistry.

I’ve been in dentistry for over 25 years. I started in 1998 selling latex gloves door to door from the trunk of my car. That blossomed into becoming a full-blown dental supply dealership. We had a warehouse we operated out of South Los Angeles. I grew that business to a decent size, and we sold to Benco Dental, the world’s largest privately owned dental supply distributor. I was the first pair of boots on the ground for them in Southern California, opening the territory up for them and staying on for about 3 years. But I still had that entrepreneurial chip on my shoulder.

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It was around the recession, and I noticed that practices needed help taking advantage of their underutilized chair space. Patients weren’t coming in as they used to, and specialists were getting fleeced with debt. The cost of tuition for the oral surgeon had skyrocketed to an average of over a million dollars. Combined with these issues, you end up with a market condition where graduating specialists have few choices. Either they become an associate or go work for a school part-time. Very rarely did they establish their own private practice.

Many started working with DSOs and got burned out with numerous insurance patients and long drives. DSOs tend to be very insurance heavy with specialty products and had their specialists seeing 20 to 30 cases daily. I thought how cool it would be if we came up with an agency for the in-house traveling specialist. So, I started Pair Dental with my co-founder, Dr. Shervin Molayem, a periodontist who graduated from USC. He’s a friend from high school who’s always had a vision for the future. He told me, “I have this idea. I’ll fund it if you manage it.” Pair Dental was the model that pioneered the whole in-house specialty agency. We interviewed offices and specialists and matched them for 1099 part-time, specialty work.

There is no upfront cost to the practice owner, and as an added value, there’s a lot more predictability going through a model such as Pair Dental offers. We know these 4,000+ specialists in our agencies’ relationships database help make these matches a bit more predictable. Additionally, we are not just involved in the introduction. We’re also here to help with onboarding, delivering the credentialing documents, and ensuring the office manager has the scheduling guidelines particularly tailored for the specialist, the supply list, you name it. It’s a pretty involved process.

DSOPro: How did Cloud Dentistry evolve from that?

I met Trey Tepichin, the CEO of Cloud Dentistry about 2 years after starting Pair Dental when Dr. Shervin Molayem, Pair Dental’s cofounder, suggested I investigate Cloud Dentistry. He texted me a picture of Trey and Reza Sanjar, the dentist Trey co-founded Cloud Dentistry with, sitting on a park bench announcing they would change how specialists and all other dental staff connect with offices for work for hire. Initially, they thought they would take over the specialty side through a tech marketplace that enabled offices to book on-demand professionals. It would also enable professionals and offices to message one another to connect for work for hire. It’s like LinkedIn meets Uber for the dental workforce. At the time, they didn’t have a product, just a website. I was in Houston, where Trey lives part-time, so we met, and he told me his story.

Trey said he, Reza, and another dentist had discussed “chest bumping” over whose life is more difficult, a lawyer’s or a dentist’s over dinner a few weeks before. For background, Trey used to teach undergrad macroeconomics at Harvard University, where he had earned his JD. He litigated one of the country’s top five firms before leaving to start Cloud Dentistry. I was completely drawn to his cavalier spirit of entrepreneurship, and of all industries, I thought “why dentistry”? When he explained his vision for Cloud Dentistry, I said, “Man, you’re crazy! What are you doing leaving all that to come into dentistry? But I like it.” He wanted to spit on a handshake and go 50-50, but I said, “I’m not ready for that—I’m 2 years ahead of you guys. Why don’t we invest in your seed round and see how the relationship goes?”

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I ended up becoming an advisor for them, and fast forward to a year ago when we found out they had a predator venture capital firm on their case and didn’t realize it. They installed three managers who were trying to stonewall the operation to run it out of money so they could kick Trey off the board and then buy the company, replenish it with cash, and build it back up. Unfortunately, it’s a mean strategy that some VCs have when they meet and befriend entrepreneurs.

Trey later found another source of money to repay and get rid of the VC, but that person bailed on him, and he was 7 days away from a deadline that was going to erupt into a very costly lawsuit. I told him I thought I could find the money in time. Now, I’m not that wealthy, but I got in touch with friends in Los Angeles and said, “Guys, we have an investment deal of the century. This company is bringing the shared-gig economy to dentistry. They are unique and solve a huge pain point of staffing in dentistry while contributing a ton of social good.” They had about 1,500 offices as paid subscribers at the time.

So, I raised funds in 6 days, and he got rid of the VC. Then Trey offered to buy Pair Dental as a subsidiary. He asked me to join as a principal partner and head of business development, saying, “We’ll just build this thing together.” And that’s exactly what we did.

DSOPro: How did you devise and develop the platform?

Today, Cloud Dentistry is a digital marketplace that is basically changing how dentistry is hiring. Whether you’re a DSO or a private office, this is a great way of connecting with dental professionals quickly, reliably, and inexpensively. We are in about 19 cities with 4,000 active paying subscriber offices. Our footprint roughly mirrors the landscape of the percentage of DSOs and private offices in the United States, which I think is a 30-70 mix.

Here’s how it works. A DSO selects their location and the type of professional they’re looking for—hygienist, dental assistant, GP, front office, specialist—whether for a temporary or permanent position. And they can search, message, or book on-demand professionals for permanent or temporary work hire.

Over 62,000 professionals have created profiles on the marketplace app. You can search by first name if you’ve heard of someone in the industry. You can filter by minimum or maximum hourly rates. You can see star ratings, proximity to your office location, when they last logged in, or how active they are. That’s one big differentiator compared to Indeed and other job boards, which give only a broad unit of time since a candidate last logged in, leading to many stale resumes because you don’t know if they are actively on the platform or have found work. I can’t tell you how often I contacted a candidate of a popular resume download forum to find out they had already found work and don’t even recall where their resume is displayed. With Cloud Dentistry, you can also see how many bookings the professional seeking work has had through the platform. Keep in mind that since Cloud Dentistry doesn’t involve any middleman fees or contracts, booking through the platform is an optional feature for both the office and the professional.

You could theoretically just message someone, ask for their number, and give them a call. Professionals whose profiles are viewed can also message the office first. It’s free to peruse the marketplace and see who is actively searching for work in your zip code. The booking feature is pretty cool, too. You can select the start and end time based on when they’ve indicated they’re available. You can select their break time. You can even choose up to six backup professional hires if someone declines or doesn’t respond within 24 hours and the system will automatically push to the next candidate. It’s very intuitive and well thought out by some of the world’s best product developers.

DSOPro: What additional features does Cloud Dentistry offer?

You can see everything about the professional you’d want to know before reaching out to them—their skill sets, how many hours they’ve worked through the app, their reviews by other offices, and reviews they left for other offices. Offices are rated based on facility, equipment, and payment. Professionals are rated based on medical competency, punctuality, and chairside manner. However, these options function only if the booking was made through the calendar app feature. If they just messaged one another, it doesn’t allow them to leave a review because we can’t verify the booking occurred.

Dental office members can post job openings just like on any other job board and indicate salary type, full-time, part-time, annual, or hourly. The zip code automatically defaults because it’s a subscription-by-location service. Boxes can be checked off to describe the office type. The URL of the actual job posting can be copied and posted on social media forums.

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The professionals can indicate whether they are cross-trained—for example, by having oral surgery experience or being able to manage front office tasks while juggling the back office. The system documents if someone has late cancellations, no-shows, or a perfect track record. We have a 98% reliability factor. Professionals booked through the platform show up on time nearly 98%. It’s helping offices avoid being “ghosted,” as they call it.

The main thing Cloud Dentistry offers is the messaging and booking-on-demand feature.

All messages are archived or in your inbox on the site. You can toggle between locations, so as a DSO recruiter or a regional recruiter, you can manage the messaging and on-demand booking for the offices you’re in charge of.

DSOPro: How does membership work?

We offer tier packages. The markets are broken down into three tiers depending on the area’s activity and saturation of professionals. The packages range from basic to premium and deluxe. The basic package offers access to the front office and dental assistants. Premium reaches hygienists, and deluxe includes the GPS, which many DSOs are looking for. We process over 10,000 bookings a month. Unlike Yelp or Google, we have an 800 number people can call if they have any issues with professionals, like arriving late, or if they are unhappy with a review posted about their offices.

We encourage people to sign up for the annual account because Cloud Dentistry is the ideal tool, not just for hiring permanent needs but to cover unplanned sicknesses and vacations or if you want to give a staff member a break. This is a reliable way of getting a fill-in. It’s also useful for women-owned dental practices if they are planning to go on maternity leave.

There’s no buyout fee. There’s no contract to a middleman in between. The professionals keep 100% of whatever they negotiate with the office. We have the ability for professionals to indicate on their profiles if they prefer to be a W2 employee, which many DSOs prefer to hire.

Professionals can look for job postings by radius. They can block offices they don’t want to be seen by. And offices can “favorite” professionals, so when the professional sees the job posting, they can just accept it, and it will automatically allow them to book.

DSOPro: How do professionals find Cloud Dentistry?

We attract professionals to the platform through the free CE Zoom topics we post. They tend to be interesting, trending topics. We distribute the CE. We also have a robust ambassador program with close to 30 hygienists and dental assistants promoting us on social media.

Of the 10,000+ bookings a month, about 50% are for hygienists, 30%-35% are DAs, maybe 10% are for office managers, and the rest are for GPs. 

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DSOPro: What else does your platform offer?

We have a subscription plan outside the tier markets called Frontier. We offer the first 30 offices in any defined market a locked-in-for-life $10 month-to-month subscription if they join us. It’s just a thank you for the early supporters in a market where we need anchor tenant demand to focus on recruiting the supply of professional users.

Ultimately, Cloud Dentistry is another way to help DSO recruiters and regional and office managers stay on top of what they’re already doing to attract more candidates. In some of the blockbuster markets we dominate, we have a close to 50% market penetration with paid subscriber offices. It’s only a matter of time before Cloud Dentistry reaches nationwide.

Keep in mind that this is not just for temping but also for permanent work hires. You might be surprised by how intensive an alternative this is compared to your traditional staffing routes. Cloud Dentistry charges like a gym membership.

Professionals seeking work love this for many reasons. They get a lot of options for choosing offices to work in. They treat their profile like it’s their LinkedIn profile. And they strive to preserve the integrity of their rating and reviews.

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About Darius Somekhian


Darius Somekhian is the Head of Strategic Partnerships for Cloud Dentistry, a digital marketplace for dental practices and professionals to connect for work hire. He is also the co-founder of Pair Dental, the agency which pioneered the dental specialists traveling model. He started Pair Dental several years ago as a business development strategist who partners with traveling in-house dental specialists and helps grow their professional careers in dentistry, one dental office at a time. He started out working in the dental industry at age 18, selling latex gloves from the trunk of his car. After growing his company to over $15 million in annual revenue, he sold it to Benco Dental. Transitioning to corporate, he opened up the Southern California market for Benco Dental.

Darius attended UCLA as an undergrad and is currently on the Board of Pair Dental while hyper-focused on growing Cloud Dentistry. He has consulted for large $100M privately owned dental group practices in Texas. He also designed, invented, and sold over 500,000 units of the world’s first “99 Cent Pregnancy Test.”

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