Making People Love Dentists More Than Netflix (Part I)
TORONTO: During Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017, Nikolai Bratkovski, CEO & Founder of Opencare, shared his views on the short and long-term challenges of acquiring customers in B2C marketplaces and what future opportunities lie in the space. In Part 1 of this 3 part series, Bratkovski talks about how customer expectations are changing and the costs of brand building.
“Building a consumer brand or online brand today is getting extremely expensive.” – Nikolai Bratkovski, CEO, Opencare.
Opencare is a digital dental healthcare concierge service with offices in Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto. Opencare matches patients with dentists and brings them together using a streamlined appointment booking platform. Nikolai Bratkovski has over 9 years of experience in the healthcare industry and serves on the advisory board at the Heart Institute of the Caribbean. Previously, he founded and exited SIMMS – a medical imaging SaaS company that served diagnostic studies for 2 million patients every year.
Nikolai Bratkovski was a panelist at Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017, where he was asked to share his views on the current challenges of acquiring customers in a B2C business.
“Consumer expectations have drastically changed”, Bratkovski said, “Our target segment – millennials – is the first generation that grew up with technology. As a result, they are used to technology and they’re open to purchasing and transacting online. Their expectations are so high that the transaction has to be easy.”
Bratkovski emphasized that changing customer expectations are not the only thing that B2C startups have to be worried about. Building a consumer brand or online brand has been getting extremely expensive over the years.
“10 years ago, you could start your business, raise a million and a half dollar seed round and deliver quite a bit. Today, a million and a half in a consumer business does nothing. Moreover, consumer marketplaces have to raise double seeds or massive seeds because it’s so expensive to acquire a consumer.” Similarly, Steve Dennis, contributing writer at Forbes, talks about “diseconomies of scale in customer acquisition.” In his piece on unsustainable customer acquisition costs, he says, “As it turns out, many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies. Where things start to get ugly is when these brands have to get more aggressive about finding new and somewhat different customers.”
Bratkovski went on to add that growth hacking as a brand-building technique has also been on a decline. “People are exploiting different things in technology. I think that window is closing up and I believe with growth hacking, it’s almost impossible to build a consumer brand.”
Bratkovski advised focusing on the most important part of a customer-acquisition strategy – the customer.
“It’s almost an in-house joke that we have to make people love dentists more than their iPhones and Netflix. We do this by gathering a lot of data on every healthcare provider. Everything from every review that has ever been written about them, to professional misconduct – it’s data education. Then we actually inspect clinics in person and interview providers. As a result, we are able to achieve high net promoter scores post-dental appointments.”
Focusing on the customer, Bratkovski concludes, is how OpenCare is organically growing in a world where growth and brand-building is becoming ever more expensive.
In the next part of this series, we’ll share Bratkovski’s opinions on how to survive in the world with large incumbents like Facebook and Google. To see the full video for Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017: B2C Customer Acquisition, go here.