When Martin Ravets joined the Association of Dental Dealers in Europe (ADDE) board, he brought with him a strong focus on technology, entrepreneurship and connectivity. Coming from a family who owned a dental business, Martin gained experience as an entrepreneur in China before returning to Brussels to run the family company. He has now initiated a series of new ventures, including a collaboration between the Dentalia and Dentex dental exhibitions, and he is particularly excited about the first instalment of the revamped Dentalia Together Expo, which will take place in Brussels from 29 September to 1 October.
Dentistry has always played a part in my life. After I finished school, I left Brussels at the age of 18 and went abroad, doing university degrees in Spain and the UK. After that, I decided to start my entrepreneurial journey, and so I went to Shanghai, where I lived for several years. There, I worked on a project that was, in many ways, similar to what I am doing now. It involved understanding a problem and using technology to solve it. I am a keen tennis player, and it was difficult for me to find an opponent in Shanghai owing to language and cultural barriers. So, I created a platform called PlayinShanghai.com, a gathering place for people interested in the variety of sports that one could play in the city. It ended up becoming the main platform for finding players of any sports in Shanghai.
After I met my wife and decided to come back to Belgium, I wanted to focus on dentistry, and so I became involved in the family business. Centrale Medico Dentaire has a 75-year history, and I took over the company in 2016 and have been running it ever since.
The company is an importer and helps manufacturers to establish their brands in the Benelux market. That is our niche market within Europe, and we have worked with well-known brands for many years, helping them to reach both dealers and end-users.
I have always been fascinated by dentistry, and since my return to Belgium, I have focused on trying to understand as much as possible about it, listening to dental professionals in order to understand the points of friction. I already knew Dominique Deschietere and the work of ADDE through our Belgian association the Union Professionnelle des Négociants en Fournitures Dentaires (UNIFODENT), and so I decided to become involved, and I was elected in May 2021.
ADDE and I share a number of goals, and one of them is to bring new vision and opportunities to the industry. Our goal is to help to improve the industry. Our field is mainly locally organised, which stands in contrast to our globally connected world. As a board member, I want to help to reduce the complexity of the industry and focus on innovation while creating real added value for dentists along the way. And, of course, ultimately, the goal is that my work at ADDE will help dentists to improve the care that they provide to their patients.
I am 37 years old, and when in a room together with the other members, I am conscious of my youth. This has really pushed me to consider what improvements we can make together. When I saw how ADDE gathers the industry together, I realised the potential for me to make an impact as a young entrepreneur.
I believe that, in the end, we are stronger together, and this is the idea that has helped retain the strength of our family company for so many years. The structure of ADDE is of great value, and I am really happy to be part of it and to be able to have an input into the evolution of the association.
This year marks the first edition of a unique collaboration between Dentalia and Dentex. It was supposed to take place in 2020 but had to be delayed owing to COVID-19. It will now take place from 29 September to 1 October, and we have a very exciting programme planned.
As well as the exhibition component, there will be accredited seminars, live talks about investment and digitalisation, a virtual reality (VR) experience for dentists, and a training centre with workshops and live interviews. So, it will be really a mix of content that brings value to dentistry today.
Our goal is to inspire dentists, to create value for them and to place them at the centre of the equation. The main topic will be dental care, but a variety of other topics will address the interests of dentists, such as topics in the areas of entrepreneurship, digitalisation, investment and sustainability.
Dentex is the largest dental exhibition in Belgium, and the one with the longest tradition. The organisers reached out to us, and as a result, we entered into a partnership to jointly organise the event.
In some ways, the exhibition is a test. It is possible that we will propose the same kind of concept to other expos, depending on the feedback that we receive from this one. We understand that creating value is not just about selling square metres and having brands present. It is also about creating relationships with dentists and bringing value to them and helping them to grow not only from a business point of view but also from a personal one.
Dentist are doctors and entrepreneurs, and so that is what guides the choice of content Dentalia Together brings to them. I think that this event is going to be a really great experience.
An exhibition that happens over three days every two years cannot engage dentists simply through promotion and asking dentists to attend. We need to be online every day, presenting and sharing content about dentistry and anything that could be of interest to dentists. We need to be there for them as a platform and show them what is actually going on in dentistry.
Our motto at Dentalia Together is: “Every day. All year long.”
We feel that communication is really lacking in dentistry. Some brands have the resources to promote themselves strategically; however, most other brands only do so with limited effect. We have realised that engaging with dentists on a daily basis through platforms like Instagram and Facebook helps to build a brand. This is because dentists today use social media to interact with their patients. Clinics have evolved into one-stop shops, and everything is done at the same clinic, with fewer and fewer referrals. More and more dentists are promoting themselves to patients using social media, and since they are doing this, we have the chance to reach them, interact with them and strengthen our core value brand message.
Today, dentistry is mainly organised at a local level, meaning that you have dental clinics where a group of people and parties work together to help one another, including dealers, technicians and local associations. This has evolved in a way comparable with the evolution of universities and humanitarian projects: small groups of individuals try to make an impact on patients. I think there is an amazing and very valuable opportunity ahead of us in the area of technology. Of course, social networks have already made an impact, and I think that tomorrow’s technology will allow us to connect the dots even further within dentistry and gather dentists together to make an impact on a larger scale.
On that note, two projects that I founded are good examples of this opportunity. One is called Mawzi, a start-up that will be launched during the expo. Mawzi is an app that streamlines workflows between the dental clinic and the dental technician. Clinics rely on equipment, but it is mainly the technician who installs and services it. And so, we created a tool to improve efficiency in inventory management, automate maintenance and streamline repairs of any dental equipment, so that the clinic and the team can focus on their patients. Mawzi helps dentists and technicians take back control of their time.
Secondly, we are also developing Dentaverse. Here, we are focusing on what is coming next for dentistry. With Dentaverse, we are building a platform that connects the future possibilities of industry-wide collaboration. It will be a community hub connecting the wider dental ecosystem through an “internet-of-value”, Web3 platform and VR infrastructure that brings dentists together on a global scale, helping to integrate dental initiatives from across the world. This started seven months ago, and now it is moving very quickly. We have important industry players that are joining the project, and we already have dozens of ambassadors across 42 different countries—dentists from all around the world. Essentially, we are building the metaverse for dentistry.
Current innovation does not travel quickly within the dental industry. I am trying to provide solutions that increase the speed and global spread of innovation.
Thank you for this interview.