Main image: Dentist and UKloupes founder David Stone models a pair of loupes.
Below, from left: UK sales manager Dan Kiel, David Stone and Barts sales agent for UKloupes, Michael Myint.
the low price was sending the wrong message about the quality of their loupes. “So, even though we were only putting our prices up to about half that of our competitors, we probably doubled our profit margin!” All the while they were expanding, both David and Dan
continued with their studies. Then, after qualifying, David started his vocational training year in Cardiff. Once he’d completed that, he decided that not even his time management skills could cope with the extra workload. “I thought, this is getting a bit too much for me, what with answering emails and boxing up loupes at 11 o’clock at night.” So while he remains a partner/director of UKloupes, Dan
to making money, because it is NHS-based.” As a result, feeling he could easily get out of his depth, he
sent an email to the university’s business school looking for a suitable candidate. One of those who responded was Dan Keil, now a fellow director of UKloupes. “I interviewed them in the university café and Dan was head and shoulders above everybody else,” says David. With Dan’s help the business started to expand. Their first
stop was Bristol University, just up the road, where he admits to bringing in pizzas to tempt the students to attend the presentation. He laughs at the memory: “They’d come along, eat the pizzas, get their greasy hands all over the loupes and then leave.” They also entered and won a number of business start-up competitions, providing small amounts of investment cash, and got funding for a business mentor through the Wales Innovators Network. Expansion has taken them into dental schools across the
UK, where they have a number of sales agents helping to market their loupes. They also now sell internationally, with enquiries from the USA, India, Australia and all over Europe. One early and extremely beneficial piece of advice, says David, was that they should put their prices up. The mentor felt
now runs the company on a day-to-day basis, leaving David free to work full-time as a dentist in Keynsham, while also taking a masters degree in implants at Bristol University.
Looking to the future Clearly not one to sit on his laurels, David is looking to open his own dental practice in the near future and is also keen to launch a dental entrepreneurial competition – which he plans to call “Dragon’s Dental” – as one way of addressing the lack of business training in dentistry. “I’m also thinking of setting up a website with some dental business-related resources for young dentists, not just dental students. I’d like to give something back,” he says.
The whole UKloupes experience has been fantastic, says
David, and even though he has broadened his interests, for now it remains the thing he’s known for. “I’m recognised as that dental student who sells loupes, and I’m not even a student,” he says, laughing. “I think that’s going to follow me, probably throughout my career. But that’s fine – you know. I’m proud of how UKloupes has turned out.”
Adam Campbell is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to MDDUS publications
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