Dr. Scott Drucker on An Outlier Path from a secure work of dentistry to a big question mark…
Welcome to the fifth interview of the Dentistry Unveiled. I’m very excited to have an opportunity to interview my friend Dr. Scott Drucker who is the co-founder and President of a super exciting tech startup called http://www.SupplyClinic.com. Scott shares a unique story of going from periodontal residency to founding a company, life altering decision, what success is and how to take a leap of faith and be confident.
Here is a short bio of Dr. Drucker:
Dr. Drucker attended the University of Pennsylvania for both undergrad and dental school, graduating in 2010 and 2013, respectively. He completed his residency in Periodontics at the University of Illinois in Chicago in 2016. Dr. Drucker has conducted research with teams at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Hadassah Hospital, and published several articles in peer-reviewed journals. As a clinician himself, he has a unique perspective to develop the supply market with end users in mind. His goal is to improve the transparency and efficiency of the healthcare supply market.
watch full episode: https://youtu.be/4FVHEZ2sSX4
Question1: Let’s start with your path to where are you at right now? What is your upbringing, what gets you going?
I grew up in South Florida and I am the oldest of 4 kids. After finishing dental school at the University of Pennsylvania, I completed my residency in Periodontics at the University of Illinois in Chicago in 2016. I have taken a leap into the start up world.
Question 2: Was there anybody in your life who influenced you to go into the dentistry?
During my time at school, I was always very science oriented and was interested in healthcare. My parents are both physicians too. My parents encouraged me to look into dentistry because of the changes in dentistry and the frustrations they encounter on a daily basis.
Question 3: What was the decision making process of selecting dental school and why specifically you decided to pursue your education at Penn Dental School?
I applied early to a combined program that allowed me to complete my undergrad degree in 3 years and dental school in 4. If I discover that dentistry wasn’t for me, I saw that I could complete my undergrad from a great school.
Question 4: How do you justify or mitigate the cost of the dental education and UPenn being one of the most expensive but provides great quality education?
Yes, a lot of pre dental students do think about the costs of it all. What ultimately drove me was passion for the field and my desire to advance the healthcare industry for the better. I believe that the lifestyle is very rewarding and comfortable in this field, but the payoff is now mitigated because of the huge debt.
Question 5: Was the education at UPenn valuable, was it worth the cost?
I have this conversation all the time with my cousins. Indeed, UPenn is a very expensive school, but I can’t really put a value to my experience at UPenn. I keep in touch with the people whom I meet in school very regularly. They give me advice as I navigate through the start up scene and prevent me from making certain pitfalls. The network of people at UPenn is unbelievable and I’m very happy that I took the path I did.
Question 6: Do you get a “Wow” factor when talking to people regarding your education?
There’s certainly a “Wow” factor and admissions at UIC did highlight that aspect when I was interviewed. However, I didn’t realize the impact it had until I left that environment and came here to Chicago. The Penn bubble was unbelievable and the benefits that came with it only dawned on me after I graduated.
Question 7: Did going to UPenn help you decide to be a specialist?
As dental schools go, UPenn has a lot of graduates that went into some specialty. Because I only had my experience in UPenn to speak of I can’t really say what it would have been like if I went to another school. I only know what I know so I can’t compare. But my classmates are incredibly happy with their experience and got out a lot of the selected program they chose.
Question 8: Take us through the decision making process on deciding on UIC Periodontal specialty?
As far as dental specialties go, it is a matched system. This basically means you get told where you go and you don’t have a choice. In particular, Perio is a selection and is a rolling type process. The city of Chicago is unbelievable. In UIC, the surgical experience is great, research here is intensive too and the program is heavy clinically oriented. The city life is very attractive for me too. I’m happy to be here.
Question 9: Let me ask you a tough question: with all your achievements and education and great school behind you, why did you decide to start a tech company?
It wasn’t an easy decision. But I see this opportunity as there is so much inefficiency in the healthcare right now that can be streamlined. I personally believe I’m in a really great spot right now.
Question 10: Can you take us to a day when you made a decision to start Supply Clinic? And if you can describe how did you make a decision?
I was finishing school and needed supplies for residency. I was quoted and compared those prices with what I found online. Like everyone else who usually goes online, I found online prices heavily discounted. I talked to my brother about this inefficiency and proposed the idea of an online marketplace in dental. After 6 months of research, I learned who the major players in the space are and their reach. Between the summers of my first and second year, we incorporated our business and hired a developer for the first time. I was managing relationships for both parties and coordinating with the distributors to get them onboard so we can list their product on our website. With only four to five months of residency left, I was stuck with the decision between turning offers down and focusing on my start up. I had a lot of emotional support from family and friends. After some time of doing some soul searching, I decided to focus my time and energy on the start up.
Question 11: Dentistry is known for being entrepreneurial: How did you decide between starting a network of your own offices and starting a start up in dentistry?
I saw the inefficiency in dentistry as a huge problem and I was really driven to be the first in the game of addressing this issue. If the start up didn’t take off, I would have the option of opening a practice. As of now, I see a lot of young dentists being very tech savvy.
Question 12: Do you have naysayers? Are they part of your drive?
There are certainly a lot of naysayers. The concept of online shopping is very easy to grasp. The dentistry scene is the last to be invited to the party. There have been big established players which have been there for years. However, our advantage as a small company with a really strong team, we have the ability to move really fast. We really have to toughen our skin and really tune them out. I would say peddle to the meddle and the key is to really just focus.
Question 13: Can you take us through a day of running Supply Clinic?
I just transitioned fulltime. I don’t have a routine as of yet. My schedule on a weekly basis will never be super consistent. At first, I was juggling too many hats but as we grow our team, I hope to train them. My role in the office is very versatile. I have gotten advice from people and they tell me to approach angels, VC groups and Shark Tank to pitch. I prepare my deck to sell our idea and concept. Right now, we are in for a big round of financing. We hope to close this round of financing and grow our team. Right now, we are a very small team – my brother, me and one full time developer. We also have a manager who handles distribution and customer relations. She is unbelievable and our distributers love her. We are looking to hire a customer facing manager and grow from there. But on a daily basis, things will change day in and day out.
Question 14: Self-awareness, can you give us an example of you being self-aware?
This is something incredibly hard to verbalize. My brother and I are very honest with each other. There is no icing and he gives me feedback all the time. It’s incredibly important for me to sit down with my staff and ask them for feedback. I would always like to hear their suggestions, even though I don’t agree with them. But it’s important to be down to earth and work on incorporating their feedback. My brother and I task each other with things to keep track of.
Questions 15: What is your definition of success?
In terms of product success, there are stage goals and whenever you pitch to someone you have to breakdown your roadmap. The investor would always ask you about your exit strategy. My immediate goal is closing this round and then build my team. I want to build our content on our platform too. My ultimate goal is to help dentists be more informed about their purchases. I would also want to build company culture in the long run.
Question 16: Who comes first if you think of someone successful?
My grandfather. If he was alive, he would have 27 grandkids and that’s a huge biological success. My grandfather was a chemist and he was always very humble and keep people on their toes. Up to this day, we have a drawer full of his patents.
Question 17: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 7 years?
I hope to either grow our company to be a point to exit or grow our software into a related market. But if we went on to do something different that would be a success as well, because I’ve learned so much in the past 2 years. I’ve done cold hard sales in a dental conference. I have also cold reach out to people to get people interested. I’ve so much respect for these people because I’ve worn so many hats. In the dental world, we beat ourselves a lot when things go right. But in the young start up world, failures are a learning experience and make me better equipped to do whatever I want to do in the future.
Question 18: Is there anything about you that you haven’t told anyone before?
During my freshman year in college, I barely squeaked in a C for BIO 101. It was a basic sciences class and I was graded on a curve. I had to maintain a certain GPA and that class pulled me back. But I’ve learned to thicken my skin, accept it and grow.
Question 19: What is one advice that you would give?
I would say to not let anyone discourage you from doing what you set out for yourself and tune people out. People are going to poke holes in your concept. But as you go through the process, stick to your guns. Keep doing what you are suppose to do.