SmileDirectClub IPO has sad debut

Online dentistry startup SmileDirectClub's IPO is putting a frown on investors. The shares slid at the open after pricing at $23 per share.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SDC SMILEDIRECTCLUB INC. 0.38 +0.01 +1.35%

The 58.5 million shares were set to raise $1.3 billion but that is less likely based on the dud debut.

SmileDirectClub sells custom clear orthodontic aligners that shift crooked or out-of-place teeth. After visiting one of the company’s more than 300 locations for a 3-D imaging session or using an at-home impression kit, each set of aligners shift a customer’s teeth closer. SmileDirectClub said it takes an average of six months for teeth to reach the desired position.

Alex Fenkell and Jordan Katzman founded the Nashville-based SmileDirectClub in 2014. The company had $423 million in revenue last year, compared to $145 million the year before. It took a net loss of $74 million last year, up from $32 million the year before, as its spending on marketing and other expenses rose sharply.

A SmileDirectClub subscription starts at $1,895, which it said is much less costly than traditional orthodontic models. Its service also requires no in-person visits.

The company has the endorsement of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who is both a customer and a stakeholder in the business. After wearing braces for five years and breaking a retainer, he eventually ended up with SmileDirectClub to straighten his teeth.

“It’s easy to just grab it and go and then I can change on the road,” he said in a promotional video. “I did photoshoots with my liners in — you can’t see them.”

The company said it’s had more than 700,000 customers and it represents more than 95 percent of the doctor-directed al-home clear aligner industry. SmileDirectClub also said it has a lot of room to grow in the U.S. and world orthodontics markets, which it valued at $945 billion.