In the summer of 2016, Barclay McFadden was at his dentist’s office for a routine cleaning, and he noticed something. His hygienist was visibly tired. Her eyes were red, and her hands were shaking.
The two started talking, and the hygienist explained that she’d been up all night with her sick son. She contacted her entire network to find someone to take her shift, to no avail. So her sister came to watch her child while the hygienist came to work.
The story struck McFadden and got him thinking: “Why isn’t there a modern solution for this?”
McFadden and his co-founder, Will Naso, did a little digging. As it turns out, the problem is endemic in the dental industry. A small dental office with one dentist and two hygienists can expect to lose $18,000 a year in revenue from hygienists unable to attend their shifts, when you factor in staffing fees and admin time spent coordinating replacements.
“The system today is expensive if you’re using a temp agency, or risky if you’re hiring through a Facebook group,” Naso explained.
So in April of 2017, the two co-founders launched Biteline, a digital platform that allows dentists to post and fill temporary jobs at a significantly reduced cost compared to using a staff agency. In fact, the company is operating on a “freemium” model for the first six to nine months while they finish building out the features. After that, Biteline will operate on a subscription basis for the dentists hiring workers through the app.
The app is designed to allow both parties to leave reviews after a placement, ensuring quality staffing and care standards for the providers, as well as fair treatment for the temporary employees. One concern for temp workers operating outside a staffing agency is fair pay. That’s why Biteline allows dentists to post a pay range with their job descriptions: Workers can easily bid their required rate when applying for a given position.
Once the co-founders contracted a developer to build out the app, they identified Facebook groups that serve as impromptu staffing portals in every community. One such group in Charleston, for instance, has over 1,000 users who were eager for a streamlined solution. Naso and McFadden partnered with the group’s creator to onboard the group’s members to Biteline’s portal.
McFadden, who holds an MBA from the University of Virginia, had acquired a digital technology implementation company in Charlotte after working in corporate and private equity roles for nearly 10 years. When the funding was pulled for that company’s original project, Barclay repurposed the engineering resources to create a new physician reputation management software. He and his previous team then sold that product to a strategic investor, and about a week after that sale, he began working on Biteline full-time. Shortly after that shift, the Biteline partnership with the Facebook group formed.
Naso joined the project shortly after his graduation from Davidson College, and the two set some early goals for Biteline: find the right software partner and start raising capital. They created their pitch deck, built their pro forma and designed software visions for their presentations to investors. The founders expects to complete this round of funding in November and are optimistic they will meet their capital goals.
“It’s now up to scratch and could be passed off to a developer and handled well,” Naso said. “When we have the necessary capital, we will begin developing rapidly.”
Biteline has launched in Charleston and Charlotte, with its sights set on organic growth throughout North and South Carolina. Eventually, McFadden and Naso want to take their platform nationwide. Through this expansion, they want to keep their marketing as grassroots as possible.
“Three hundred users is where growth starts to happen organically,” Naso said. “Once industry leaders start adopting it, the rest will follow. And that’s when we will go to the next market.”
Getting there, however, is a frustrating process, Naso noted.
“If you can push past that and get something out there that can interact with the community, that feedback is invaluable,” he said.
This article was co-written by David Stunja and Lexie Banks.