The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to ensure clean and healthy teeth and gums. However, 32% of Americans don’t floss at all and only 68% only floss at least once weekly. Flaus is a direct-to-consumer oral health brand that offers the world’s first electric flosser to make flossing quick, easy, and comfortable. Similar to an electronic toothbrush with sonic vibrations, the waterproof Flaus unit retails for $99 for the device that uses head refills, which are available for $19 for a pack of 90. Users can floss or Flaus in under a minute, 5x faster than traditional flossing. The company reports that 80% of customers are flossing more regularly since switching to Flaus.
AlleyWatch caught up with Flaus CEO and Founder Samantha Coxe to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Flaus recently closed a $2M Seed Round led by YETI Capital, including investment from Greenlight Ventures, USC Venture Fund, and Doug Bouton, Cofounder of Halo Top Ice Cream, bringing total funding to $4M.
Tell us about the product or service that Flaus offers.
Flaus is a DTC oral beauty brand making it easier for people to look after their teeth and the planet. We’re reimagining oral care routines by creating the world’s first electric flosser that uses sonic vibrations and high-performing dental floss to make flossing as quick, easy, and comfortable as using your favorite electric toothbrush!
What inspired the start of Flaus?
I did not grow up as a flosser, and in fact, hated it until recently. I was a few years into my law career and saw I had a dentist appointment a week away. In true guilt flosser form, I frantically started flossing so that I could answer “Yes” to the inevitable question from my dentist, “Have you been flossing?” I ended up leaving that appointment with 10 cavities and a massive dental bill. I loved my electric toothbrush and was a responsible twice-a-day brusher, but I knew I needed to floss more if I wanted to keep my teeth for life. Flossing was painful, time-consuming, difficult, and gross. I wanted a solution that made flossing as quick and easy as brushing my teeth, but was unable to find anything on the internet so sought to create my own. I started spending all of my free time designing and ideating this dream product, and after getting additional validation from colleagues and market surveys — left my career as a BigLaw M&A attorney, to create the world’s first electric flosser, Flaus.
How is Flaus different?
Flaus is a new oral beauty brand disrupting the oral care market by offering the best possible flossing experience through the first-ever electric flosser. We are on a mission to create a truly good-for-the-world company, focusing on product development, accessibility, innovation, and sustainability. While seizing the opportunity in the oral health care market, Flaus is poised to also make noise as a sustainable leader in the industry, addressing the fact that the 42M rolls of floss that are sold in the U.S. every year make their way into our oceans and landfills, and don’t decompose. Even with “recyclable” floss, the floss strands and floss picks are too thin to be properly processed by local waste management facilities and end up in our oceans and sea animals. Flaus has a recycling program whereby customers ship used floss heads (as well as any other oral care items) via a prepaid label to a dedicated oral care waste management facility that can specifically handle tiny materials such as floss string and floss picks. Additionally, with a purposeful design that reduces single-use floss use by 95% per session, uses 30% less plastic than traditional floss picks, and a commitment to driving sustainable innovation in the floss materials themselves, this consciousness is exactly what today’s consumers are looking for as they discerningly invest in their products. Flaus is redefining oral beauty standards by embracing the imperfections of our smiles – from crooked teeth, tiny gaps, and discoloration – to redefine healthy teeth. As a category pirate for Oral Beauty, Flaus has the opportunity to completely rebrand flossing as we know it by giving it the beauty treatment — finally granting our teeth and mouths the self-care rituals they deserve.
What market does Flaus target and how big is it?
While the electric flosser is our go-to-market product, our vision is to create the oral beauty space – a white space that exists between traditional oral care and beauty products, where customers invest in, accessorize, and pamper their mouths as much as their skin, nails and hair (e.g., tooth gems, tooth stickers, probiotic tooth mask, etc). We will transcend customers from the traditional oral care aisle into the Oral Beauty aisle — an entirely new category that we envision. Our current product is targeting the 70% of Americans who don’t floss daily (and even those that do!) to help change these consumer habits by rebranding flossing as a ritual we actually look forward to. Cavities are the number one non-communicable disease worldwide – and Flaus is on a mission to help people keep their teeth for life by transforming flossing from a dreaded chore into a delightful ritual.
What’s your business model?
Flaus is currently available direct-to-consumer on our website. We follow the razor and blade model, with customers purchasing the Flaus Starter Kit upfront and receiving recyclable Flaus Head refills every 3 months delivered to their door.
How are you preparing for a potential economic slowdown?
We are staying as lean as possible from an OpEx and G&A perspective, continuing to strengthen our already strong business fundamentals and obsessing over creating a must-have product inspired by the real people who use it.
What was the funding process like?
I first invested over $80,000 of my own savings to get Flaus off the ground. After seeing validating consumer interest, I raised an additional $2M from friends and family, including colleagues from the BigLaw firm I had been working at, who intimately knew my work ethic, resiliency, and passion. We most recently closed our Seed Round, bringing total funding to $4M. We leveraged crowdfunding as well, and were one of the top 1% of Indiegogo campaigns ever, having been fully funded in under 3 hours.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The biggest challenge I currently face as a female founder is being underestimated, especially when it comes to fundraising. I have to work 2x as hard and answer 2x as many questions as my male counterparts in order to secure funding. At times, it can be frustrating and disheartening. I am grateful for all of the trailblazing women who have come before. We still have a long way to go (with funding for female founders reaching all-time lows), but I am excited to be an agent of change for female founders to come.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The oral-care market is expected to reach $70.64B by 2032, and the oral beauty category is already trending. For consumers, there is a clear need in the market to solve the pain points of dental hygiene: 1. Cavities remain the number-one non-communicable disease worldwide; 2. Nearly 50% of US adults over the age of 30 already show signs of gum disease; and 3. Over 32% of Americans say they never floss. Moreover, gum disease has been linked to Alzehimer’s, Dementia, heart disease, and oral cancer. Flaus is answering that need with innovative technology that’s not currently available in the market, while also incorporating fun, edgy branding and a conscious mission that’s cognizant of both social and environmental impact.
Most of our early investors were former colleagues who I had worked with and believed in me to invest. Additionally, everyone understands the need for this type of product – either as a never-flosser or an avid flosser who wants a better, easier way to do it. After testing the product firsthand, securing the investment was easy as they loved the product and believed in me, and my brand’s mission.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Beyond launch, we’re looking to expand our Dental Ambassador Program that motivates dental professionals to speak to their patients about Flaus, launch on Amazon, and undergo clinical trials.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
First, focus on your business fundamentals with the goal of being profitable on first order. That will help relieve the pressure of raising capital as you can grow the business off of revenue. Second, consider pursuing a crowdfunding campaign (on either Kickstarter or Indiegogo). Not only will you have the opportunity to receive capital through pre-orders, but you will also gain a base of incredible customers who will serve as brand advocates. We owe so much of our success to our amazing Indiegogo backers — who we call our “Founding Flausers.”
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We plan to scale distribution to make every home across the U.S. a “Flaus Haus.” While we are wildly focused on creating the best electric flosser on the market, we plan to continue pioneering the oral beauty space, both through exciting collaborations and additional product innovation/drops.
What’s your favorite fall destination in and around the city?
One of the best aspects of living on the East Coast is getting to experience the seasons. Nothing is more magical than taking a quick day trip up to the Catskills to see the fall foliage.