Episode 201: Nick Greenfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Candid
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Building a business with longevity is a very fruitful yet challenging endeavor. Through Candid, Nick has managed to use his innovative eye to construct a brand that rethinks the way we view orthodontics. Learning from failure has been instrumental in his journey to helping build (and re-build) brands that push the envelope. Innovation is key.

Dan Hodgdon
JodiHey everybody. Welcome back to the show. I'm so glad you joined us. Welcome to our fifth anniversary season of WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY Podcast. This is our 201st episode that you're here to witness the recording of. And I'm so glad that you joined us. It's also our new show format. All episodes are live streaming. So please subscribe to our channel now on YouTube to get all future live episode notifications. And in our new live stream, you'll watch the podcast get made as it (inaudible 02:47 - 02:51). And our format starts with a 30 minute interview with our guests, followed by a 10 minute after-show where we'll have a game and fan questions. So please leave your questions and comments below. We'll be able to share them with our guests during the after-show. And if classic podcast apps are your preference, you'll be able to listen to the podcast of this show on your favorite podcast app in a few weeks.
JodiSo check into our Instagram on WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY Podcast to get updates on when shows will get launched. And, you know, just the side fact, our inspo for creating this new format of the show is Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live – which always makes me feel like I'm part of the Bravo family. So I hope that our fans feel that level of connection with our show and our guests. So our podcast theme this quarter is technology, and we're thrilled to introduce you to our 201st guest, Nick Greenfield. He's the Co-Founder and CEO of Candid. Hey there, Nick.
NickHi. Thanks for having me, Jodi.
JodiIt's so great to see you with your framing right now. It almost looks like you're in an ocean wonderland.
NickI have a view of the ocean from my office right now. So it is pretty nice.
JodiWhat city are you in?
NickI'm currently in Miami. So I'm down here at least for now. And I travel a lot, so the company is based in New York. And I've spent the last five or six years in the New York area. But down in Florida for now with the pandemic and the future of remote work, I'm excited to be here and managing everything from down south.
JodiSounds good to me, cuz it's pretty cold here in New Jersey. So okay, well, welcome officially to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY, Nick. I'm gonna ask you my favorite question first. When you were a kid, you know, channel your 11 year old self, what did you wanna be when you grew up?
NickI wanted to be an astronaut. That's an easy one. I actually went to space camp as a kid. So like really went all in full, kind of, full nerd. And in fact, I have a really good family friend who is an astronaut on the new telescope or at that, sorry, an engineer on the new telescope that just went up into space. So I was really into it and it was probably in seventh or eighth grade where I realized I did not have the ability to really be an astronaut.
JodiOkay. This so cool because there was a movie when I was growing up, it came out in 1986, called Space Camp and it was all about like the group of kids who got to go to a space camp. And, when they were doing a simulation exercise and the space shuttle, by accident, the space shuttle blasted them off into space and they needed to figure out how to get home. And it was like one of my top five favorite movies as a kid, cuz I wanted to be that kid just like you, I wanted to be at space camp. I wanted to learn all about it. And it felt out of reach for me. So it's, I'm so excited that you got to actually go.
NickI feel very fortunate that I got to go and I'm also fortunate that my space shuttle simulation didn't send us into space because that, that would've been unfortunate as a, you know, as a 11 year old. I don't think I would've really known how to fly the space shuttle. So I'm glad I'm on Earth now. The desire to go to space isn't quite what it once was.
JodiIs there like one thing that you learned when you were there that still sticks with you and that you like kind of draw upon from time to time?
NickI was afraid of roller coasters when I was little. I really didn't want to go on any rides. And when you go to space camp, they kind of force you to do the zero gravity and the different things. So what I, what I learned was that by going, by getting shot up in the air 300 feet really fast – which was one of the simulations we did – that I, in fact, love roller coasters. And I certainly remember that from space camp.
JodiThat's so fun. Okay. So I'm so glad you're on the show because the theme this quarter is technology, right. And I wanna talk with you about technology and innovation, how it's driven your own career journey. And in our intake interview a few weeks ago, you said something to me that was so fascinating. I wrote it down. You told me that. One of the questions business leaders and entrepreneurs should ask themselves is, 'does your business need to be here?', right? So what does that mean to you?
NickWhy do you exist? Right. There's all these technologies and companies and things that are out there, even things that we, see as companies that raise lots of money in, you know, in the news cycle, obviously. But is that something that actually needs to exist? And I think that more and more, especially as we think about Gen Z coming into the workforce and obviously, you know, millennials, we deeply care about having something that should exist and be in the world and makes a difference. And I think that when you have the opportunity or you're thinking about starting a company, whether it's something you're personally very passionate about and think that it should be something that exists and it could be as, you know, an e-commerce brand, it could be a small retail store – whatever that is – all the way to, I wanna build a, you know, I wanna build a SpaceX and shoot satellites into orbit to provide internet for the world, whatever that may be.
NickI think it's really important to make sure that your business, or whatever you're doing, actually needs to exist. And if it doesn't, that's where you run into trouble where it's not just if, there's something called product market fit, which is this thing, actually can it fit in the market? And can you sell it, and can you market it? But at the end of the day, when you're 3, 4, 5 years into your journey, you need to look up and say, "is this the thing that I really want to be doing and building for the next five or 10 or 15 years?" Because you'll always run into these, you know, into these walls and you have to be willing as an entrepreneur to run through them. And it takes passion, desire and care, whether external or internally motivated, knowing that your product or whatever you're selling or building should exist to be able to run through those walls.
JodiSo you told me you value failure. How does failing impact innovation?
NickI think that failure is the only way to actually learn and move forward. If we're always successful, we never get to taste what it's like to lose and, you know, loving winning is great, but the only way you can love winning is if you actually have lost and you know, what that feeling is. And I think there's no, there's no better, for me, experience than having gone through, at least from a business standpoint a business that was not gonna make it, right? And my first job in my career, a company called Zimride, we had an interesting little business, but it was never going to actually truly make it. And when we launched Lyft in 2012, all of a sudden it was a feeling of, oh, this is gonna work. And so some of the learnings that we had from Zimride, we were able to apply to Lyft right then and there. And those failures were what actually drove us to be successful very quickly rather than having to fail. And maybe the company Lyft wouldn't exist today, if we hadn't had those prior failures.
JodiI've been really connecting to this idea of, you know, years worth of, I don't really call it failing just, I guess, experiences, or challenges, or obstacles. But I see a new view of these confronting boulders. I'm climbing up a hill and I'm constantly faced with boulders rolling at me. That's kind of how I feel my 15 year entrepreneurial journey has been. And I see in a new way, when I look at my son, he's 14 and he's a wrestler and he's been wrestling for, I guess, like six years. And in the beginning, I mean, he lost all the time, right. He wanted to win, right. He wanted to win his first match, like right away. And he had to do a lot, a lot of losing, like a lot of losing for years. And now he's amazing and so talented, and so controlled, and composed in his craft. And the only way to get to where he is now is a lot, a lot, a lot of losing.
NickYeah. I think motivation, you know, is driven. Look at different people are motivated by different things. Michael Jordan is a great example of – the example of him not making the varsity basketball team getting cut, right. That could be viewed failure. And then he was the greatest basketball player of all time. And that comes – that drove him. The failure of not making that team, drove him to build his work ethic. And it sounds like your son maybe came from something similar. And so for me, I've seen that in my career, you know, over and over again, whether it's micro failures, testing and learning, right. The whole idea of testing and learning is you're gonna try some things that work and other things that don't work.
JodiYou think that our culture doesn't value failing though? How do you see a resistance to accepting failure and accepting challenges and where do you see the resistance to celebrating the failures?
NickI think grade inflation. I think the desire as a kid to get only to get straight As is a perfect example. It's like the perfect embodiment of that there. We, as we've grown up, right, the idea that you would get a B or a C, right? We think that, you know, C is supposed to be average. For me growing up a C was absolutely a failure. And so we've created, societally, a way of looking at things and saying, look, if you're anywhere, halfway decent you're gonna get a B or an A. And that's how it works. And I think that we need to reframe our paradigm and challenge ourselves and create situations where look, if you get a C, it doesn't necessarily mean that you did poorly. The thing was really hard and the harder it is, the more we learn, the more we push ourselves.
NickAnd then by the time you get into the real world, all of a sudden you're able to actually figure out how to succeed . And drive. So I think we've just, we coddle very much now and try to give those kind of dopamine hits of success. And that's not really success, right? That's in a controlled environment. And I think that we should accept the fact that not getting an A every time means that the test was probably hard. And if a test is hard, that allows you to push yourself and learn and have to at least mentally challenge yourself. And I think we can see this in so many places besides school, but I think it's the perfect embodiment.
JodiNick, that's such a great example cuz it's making me smile think back to high school and, you know, like the classes I took and I will be honest, like I was not a devoted student and thankfully the work came easy to me. So I was really happy to do no work and get like a B, B plus. But I did know my instinct was, well, that's not good enough, because my friends are all striving for the A++, right? There was always this ambition that they had to get it. I was less ambitious and I was satisfied with my B, but never in the equation with C, which is like probably what the expectation should be, right? So I think it's really interesting how you reframed grading for me in my own life and it helps me kind of see my past a little differently.
NickYeah. I mean, it's the point of having a curve, right? Which is, which I would never, like I personally, if I think about what would motivate me, I would never want to have to be graded on a curve where like, if I got, you know, if I got the 40th percentile, I'm getting a D, but in reality, I was like, 'I did so well on that test!'. But I think it's just the unwillingness to truly challenge ourselves and continue to challenge ourselves, and over and over again, puts us in a place of complacency. And you see this in athletics, you know, it's binary A and B, win and lose, you see it in business. But I think that we, as a society, just, we value those like that. The idea of success being these like micro successes. But I think that we should value trying absolutely at our best, our hardest. And even if don't succeed, we'll learn from that failure and grow and organizationally will do that.
JodiI love this train of thought, because it's totally aligned with the whole purpose of the show, which is, you know, to celebrate the journey, right. It's really the journey that's so exciting and there's so many points to learn and grow. So this is a really good segue actually into this topic of building something generational, which is something else that you told me is important to you. So I actually, this is a topic I love talking about. I haven't actually studied it, but I see in many industries there's and especially beauty and wellness, maybe other industries as well. But it seems like businesses keep popping up with like very short-term goals, you know, like with really no ambition to be more than short-term, like a one-hit wonder kind of thing. And I really do believe anecdotally and probably some of the research I've studied tells me this too, that the younger gen Z customer wants to support brands who wanna make a long-term relationship with them and our future thinking. So you know, I think of the brands I grew up with, you know, that maybe I don't relate to anymore, but they were generations of people in my family were relating to them before me. So do you think that it's a trend, this idea of building a new trend to build something generational? Is this starting to pick up momentum or are you sort of the outlier in this?
NickI would see it actually almost being the opposite. I think your point of brands coming in trying to build, you know, with a singular product and getting acquired or you know, doing it for a hot second. I think the more the instant feedback that we get from being on Instagram or being on TikTok or the text messages that we get from our friends all day. Those, again, those like those quick dopamine hits, I think we are building ourselves up into a world where we want that fast response. And I think to build something generational, if you think about, you know, our grandparent's generation, they would work at one company for 30, 40 years because they wanted to be a part of that, that thing. And they would build and build and build. So I think that's one trend I'm seeing. Another trend I'm seeing is there are more companies being started than ever before.
NickAnd so while you might have some companies that are trying to do it really quickly, you have other companies that are actually thinking about these really long-term trends. So, you know, we're here talking about technology, and if you think about web three, right, or cryptocurrencies, there's a whole get rich quick scheme associated with some of that. Right. And it's crazy. But there's a whole group of people who are very dedicated to making this the next hundred years of what the internet should look like. And, so applying that, I think you'll see both paradigms, but I think more and more I get excited. And Candid, my company, we made a huge change, you know, in the last two months because we do want to build a company that can actually be a generational business. And that means that we had to make big changes to our business model. And I think I do. I get really excited when I see companies that have that really, really long-term vision. And I think that the influx of venture capital dollars is also seeing that, so there are more companies being started than ever before and hopefully, some of them truly can be a generational organization.
JodiSo thank you for the segue because now I wanna talk about you know, your business decisions recently. You told me that you wanted, you close your D to C business to focus solely on the professional channel. And I'm actually a huge fan of pro brands. And at Base Beauty, we work with so many programs, again skincare and hair care. So like the power of the pro's voice is just unlike anything else to move the needle. Why did you make the shift?
NickYou know, we started the company five years ago. So just to give you an idea of spending the last five years, we raised over a hundred million dollars, like really, really focused on direct to consumer. But at the end of the day we built a product that actually needed more conversation in the dental professional, where we, we make a clear liner it's called Candid. Hopefully some people who are listening have heard of it. And it competes in this space with Invisalign, and other products like Smile Direct Club. And what we did was build a product geared around accessibility and high quality patient outcomes. And what we found was that through direct to consumer marketing, we actually weren't able to truly get the message out about the unique, amazing properties of Candid using this amazing telehealth driven technology, to connect doctors and patients remotely and drive fewer office visits and incredible outcomes for patients.
NickSo we tried to sell that through the direct to consumer channel and we actually saw over time that doctors having a conversation with their patients, even with a minute or two minutes, were able to actually transfer that message in a much better much more authentic, and frankly believable way, than the claims we were able to direct to consumer brand. And at the same time we saw that 80% of our patients were actually more interested in starting in the office and willing to pay significantly more to work with their dentist than by doing it via direct to consumer. So I think those two things really pushed us well, you know, we grew our business to, you know, a lot of revenue, right? We're talking about nearing like nine figure revenue. We recognize that to be a generational business, to be around for 50 years or a hundred years, we needed to shift and alter the way we were actually positioning ourselves and allow both the patient to dictate where they wanted to start treatment, which is in the dental chair, and the dentist to dictate - actually, manage - that relationship through that chair.
NickSo we still minimize office visits, but now we have that added layer of support. And I do think that the future of healthcare really is this hybrid between in-person care, even to get started, and then remote monitoring and compliance to minimize office visits. And while Candid is in dental, it definitely is still healthcare. I think we're at the forefront of that innovation. So I'm really excited about the change that we made, officially announced really two weeks ago.
JodiIn terms of the telehealth innovation, what types of innovations do the dental pros crave? What are you able to give them that they've, weren't able to give themselves, or didn't even have the know-how to make happen for themselves?
NickWe have an app called the Candid app it's called in reviews the 'Tesla of orthodontics' which I appreciate as a nice analogy. The app has over 2000 reviews. It's the top-rated app in telehealth on the dental side. So it's a really, really strong you know, mobile application that allows dentists and patients to connect with each other remotely. And that means that patients can use their phones and scan their mouth every two weeks instead of coming back into the office and using computer vision and artificial intelligence. We're actually able to see the patient's teeth and automatically detect if the aligners are fitting or not, which means that instead of going in every two weeks to visit your doctor, you can do your visit from home. And that is –
JodiWait, Nick, can I just ask you a question? Sorry to interrupt, but my daughter's going through orthodont... Orthodontish or whatever, going through this process right now, the orthodontist. So you're saying the app on your phone is taking all those crazy, amazing pictures of her, of the patient's mouth, the way that she would have these amazing pictures in the dentists office.
NickThat's right. Yeah. So we get, we actually just did a manual review of all of our cases. And we saw that orthodontists agreed with our scans over 99% of the time. So you're talking about incredible level of fidelity. And if you think about it from the perspective of a parent, now you don't have to pick your kid up at 2:30 and go to the orthodontist and take him in like, so they miss, you know, soccer or miss piano. They can actually go through that experience. And as an adult, if you work a job, that's, you know, nine to five, there's a good chance the orthodontist is only open ten to four. And that means that you can't go in person. So what we've done is actually enable way more care and make care far more accessible for patients, for their parents, for adults, and also for the doctors who now dramatically reduce the amount of office visits that they need to require to bring their patients back in. And that's all through this amazing mobile application and remote scanning technology.
JodiIt's funny you say that, because we were just at the orthodontist on Monday and between 2:30 and 4:30, it's like Grand Central Station, right? Like people, kids, in and out in and out in and out in and out. And then our appointment was at four. So when we left it was like I don't know, almost five. We had a long appointment and there was nobody there, like the entire place emptied out as if it was like one o'clock in the morning at the train station. So yeah, it's like a very small window of when you can actually get your kid the access to the pro they need because of school hours and after school activities. So it's really amazing that you can have the quality scanning, which is very impressive these days that scanning is next level. And do it on more of your own time.
NickYeah, it it's awesome. We not only provide that, but we also provide communication and platform that sits on top of the Candid app that makes things easier for doctors and makes things also easier for patients. So our view is how do you dramatically increase access to that overall healthcare experience? And that means more people can provide orthodontics. And if you think about from, you know, obviously a health and wellness standpoint, orthodontics are the foundation of good dental and oral care, which is also the foundation from a beauty perspective of you know, a beautiful mouth and a beautiful smile and confidence and self expression. So everything is really, really tied in together. And that's why for me, going back to your first question of, you know, being mission oriented or, how do you feel about, you know, is this the type of thing that you wanna work on forever? Why do you exist? I think at our company, we can look at this and say like, we can see why we exist. We are literally transforming people's mouths and smiles, which is helping them transform their lives. And that's something that I'm excited about. And this shift to Candid pro allows us to go from doing it direct to consumer, to accessing an order of magnitude, more patients around the country.
JodiOkay. My last question, it's like a really important topic to me. In my 15 year entrepreneurial journey, I summarize my personal experience as growing a business is seductive, right? Anytime I get to this point where I'm like, 'oh, like a little dream come true', I'm like, 'I want more', right? So I wanna work harder, longer, more intensely. And it's this seduction that I actually think is like part amazing because it means I have a lot of fun at my work, but also part challenging. Like I could sit here all day and send emails. Why am I not hanging out with my kids? Or why am I not going to the gym, or whatever. So I'm so curious to know what aspects of growing this business are seductive for you?
NickOoh, amazing. That's an amazing question. And I've never thought of that term to describe what I'm going through, but it's so perfect. You know, it's the moment for me with our own internal employees with where I see somebody breakthrough, you know, as somebody who's getting promoted, breakthrough and do amazing work. It's for me, actually many, many times the moments where people have left Candid and gone on to start their own companies where I can see that kind of seed of the entrepreneurial journey start with their work at Candid, go into starting a new company. We've had six or seven people leave Candid, who've all gone to start their own companies. So I think that for me, I get that joy out of seeing other people around me grow, develop and be successful. I think that's probably like the biggest, you know, the most seductive part of this is the ability to help people become the best versions of their business self, hopefully theirselves, but at least with their experience with Candid, the best version of their work and business self. I think that, you know, for me, it's probably gotta be the number one most seductive part about the journey.
JodiGreat. Thank you. Okay. So Nick, I wanna thank you for your wisdom. That's wrapping up our interview portion of this podcast and for our listeners, I hope you enjoy this interview with Nick. Please subscribe to our series on your favorite podcast app and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram at @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast. But Nick, you're not going anywhere 'cause now we have some fun. Okay. You ready?
JodiSo this is the WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY after show. So I'm thrilled to be here with Nick Greenfield. He's the co-founder and CEO of Candid, and we're going to play a game called innovative smiles. So since Nick thinks we should all appreciate and elevate the innovation journey, which often includes failure, I selected five true innovators and we'll ask Nick to see if he can identify the innovator from their smile alone. Okay. So Nick, this is gonna be super fun. I think I picked some pretty easy smiles, but you'll tell me. So we're gonna give you five or three smiles. There's a 60 second clock that's gonna count down. So you tell me, Nick, are you ready?
NickI'm ready to go. I'm, I'm pretty nervous about this though. Let's see how it (inaudible).
JodiOkay. Let's go. Okay. So he –
NickAlbert Einstein – ,
JodiWho do you think this is? Let's see. Yep. You got it. Next one.
NickI'm gonna go with Oprah Winfrey.
JodiGood job.
NickWho is Elon Musk?
JodiYou got it.
NickOoh. Oh man. I'm stumped here.
JodiOkay. Let's reveal it. No, we'll just tell you.
JodiSarah Blakely. Okay, our last smile.
NickOh man. I think I know this one, but I'm not sure. I don't know who it is.
JodiLet's see. As the clock winds down. That's Stan Lee.
JodiSo thank you so much for playing
JodiOkay, Nick, our next segment is fan questions. So we asked our fans on Instagram for some questions for you. I have three questions. The first one is, how did COVID affect your business?
NickWow. We had to shut the business down, all of our retail locations. And when we were in direct to consumer, we had a hundred percent of our retail locations were shut down. We lost 85% of our revenue. We had to lay off 30 of our staff and furloughed another 50% of our staff and then cut everyone on salaries by 50%. So I would say it was a massive impact out of the gate. But we stayed alive and we have come back after the first three months of lockdown really came back thriving and have rebuilt the business. During that time we were manufacturing PPE. So manufacturing face shields for different populations police departments Planned Parenthood and everyone in between. We built a manufacturing facility. We launched a whitening product and partnership with Phillips, our Phillip zoom whitening. So we were able to do so much during that first, that first lockdown phase, even under, you know, really challenging circumstances and we're back better than ever now.
JodiAwesome. Okay. Second question. Why oral care?
NickI liked going to the dentist. I'm one of the very few people out there who feels that way. But I really loved I loved going to the dentist. So I always found it an intriguing market. And I, while I'm not a dentist myself, although my, you know, my mother would be proud to have a, a Jewish dentist son, I didn't make her proud in that way, but this is the next best thing.
JodiAwesome. Okay. And then last question. What other founders do you look to for inspo and guidance? So when running your business.
NickI think, you know, the top three that I could give you would be people that I've worked for in the past. So Eric Lyman and Kareem, and I started a company called Ramp. They were the Founders of the last company I worked at called Paribus and they've just done such an amazing job starting Ramp, which is a corporate card, you know, innovating in the corporate card and expense management space. I've seen them go from, you know, zero to an 8 billion, sorry, 4 billion-dollar company in the last three years. It's just been incredible watching how hard they've worked and how they've been magnets for talent. Recruiting is the most important thing when you're starting a company. I point to John Logan, John and Logan. So, the founders of Lyft who really kind of got me, it got me going here.
NickI think I would also look at Kira Wobbler who's on the board of Candid. She is a partner at Redesign Health and has started some amazing companies there including Jasper, which is innovating in the cancer space. They're helping provide end-to-end care navigation and cancer, and just a company called Jasper that she just raised money from a big venture firm for. So seeing her kind of drive that innovation has been pretty awesome. And those are people that I know and definitely draw inspiration from.
JodiAwesome. Well, Nick, I wanna say thank you so much for joining us and being our 201st episode. It was super fun to hear about your story and thank you for playing along with our game and answering our fan questions.
NickThank you so much. It was great being on. Much appreciated.
JodiAnd before we all leave, I wanna thank the people behind the scenes who make the show happen. So we're gonna pull back the curtain and you can say hi to Kiwi our director, Nico, our sound engineer, and Molly, our social media coordinator. Thank you guys for the hard work you do. And for our listeners and viewers, we'll see you here on March 2nd. So in one month from three to five PM, for our next two livestream episodes, that will be featuring Carolina Rice Olivier, she's a co-founder and CEO of One Skin. And at three PM it'll be Sinead, I'll have to practice last names, Norenius-Raniere, VP product of Cision. She's at 4:00pm Eastern. And the last piece of news, we are now booking guests for our quarter two theme of sustainability. So listeners, please message me on Instagram at @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast or on LinkedIn at Jodi Katz with your guest suggestions. Thanks everybody.

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