Each week, staff writer Paul Wood interviews a high-tech difference-maker. This week, meet MEHDI PEIKAR, whose startup, Mechanodontics (now Brius), was a University of Illinois Cozad 2019 Grand Prize Winner. The New York Times has written about the company, whose process it said “straightens teeth without the use of braces and aligners. The technology can cut treatment time in half.”
What did you study? Do you have a background in the dentistry?
I did a master’s degree in condensed matter and quantum mechanics at the UI. Afterwards, I did a Ph.D. in biomechanics at Johns Hopkins University. Finally, I did my orthodontic residency at UCLA.
What is your staffing like?
Our team has grown significantly since the beginning and is larger than 15 now, but I started the company with one of my friends who is also an Illinois alum.
Does the company still have a presence in Champaign?
We have recently moved to Dallas, Texas.
Brius is very different from braces or aligners and is placed behind a patient’s teeth, with no weekly or monthly adjustments required. What inspired this breakthrough?
I did my first orthodontic residency in Iran. I was inspired to improve the status quo by one of my adult patients who hated his smile because of the braces I gave him.
How did you solve the problem?
I came up with the idea of Brius back then but was not able to execute on this idea until when I came to the U.S. and had access to all the resources like advanced materials and technology. We have been working on and perfecting this technology for more that three years now. It has been quite a journey to get it to this point that is being offered by many orthodontists all over the country.
The Brius tech is behind the teeth, hence invisible. Is that a strong selling point?
That is a very strong selling point. This, after the fast treatment time, is the most important reason our patients love our product. Other “invisible” solutions like aligners often require attachments that are still visible, but Brius is truly invisible.
How does this affect things like flossing?
Brius does not connect the nearby teeth, which makes flossing a lot easier and the treatment more hygienic.
Do you have any patents?
Yes, we filed our first patent in 2015 and it was granted earlier this year, which was a significant milestone for our company.
We have grown significantly since winning Cozad, but we are just getting started. We are hoping to increase the number of orthodontics offices that offer Brius and help many more patients improve their smiles. Most people don’t exactly describe their orthodontic treatment as the most enjoyable experience, and we are on a mission to change that.
TECH TIDBITS ... from MEHDI PEIKAR
Do you have a favorite app? The app I love is Audible. I can listen to e-books daily when I am driving or biking or even on a plane.
Book or Kindle? What are you reading right now? I am listening to “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz for the second time.
Do you have an entrepreneur hero? Bill Gates and Elon Musk.