Dennis Hanlon seeks to avoid a classic business problem: when demand for a product outstrips supply.
In Hanlon’s case, the product is Smile Saver, from the Naples-based company he founded four years ago, Soluria.
Smile Saver is a cleansing and freshening spray designed to remove bacteria and associated ‘gunk’ that builds up when using or storing removable oral devices, such as orthodontic aligners and athletic mouth guards. It’s formulated without sugar, artificial ingredients, alcohol or peroxides. “It’s really the only product in this space that leans toward being all natural and it is portable and convenient,” Hanlon tells Coffee Talk. “And convenience is something we hear over and over again from our customers.”
“It’s a piece of mind product,” adds Soluria Marketing and Branding Director Suzanne Mahoney, comparing it to cleaning gel for your hands.
Sales were growing but small leading up to the pandemic, in the low six-figures annually. In April, says Hanlon — who has been in a host of other businesses, including training managers at Boeing and manufacturing in metal coatings and finishing — Smile Saver sales “just shut off.”
But then, starting in May, sales began to blossom on Amazon, doubling month-over-month. In addition, the Amazon rate of repeat buyers is high, which Hanlon says helps prove the product’s viability. “There’s been a heightened awareness on what we are offering,” Mahoney says, citing lab tests and studies that show Smile Saver can reduce bacteria by up to 99.9% in just 60 seconds.
Hanlon, seizing on the Amazon sales data, has brought on a few more contracted employees to build a digital marketing campaign for other sites, including Wal-Mart and the company’s own website. Soluria, with seven freelance employees in total, works with a manufacturer in Utah that makes Smile Saver. Hanlon says Soluria’s pro-forma projections have the company at $15 million in annual revenue in three years, calling Smile Saver “highly scalable.”
With those lofty projections, the Amazon boom and budding digital campaign, Hanlon doesn’t want to be caught without having enough inventory to meet demand. To prevent that, he seeks at least $250,000 in seed funding — quickly. The company, so far, has been funded by Hanlon, friends and family. “We believe we are a picture of a company that is ready to roll,” Hanlon says. “We just need the oxygen.”