With Denttabs in an interview with interesting people who have a lot to say about sustainability and with whom we would like to discuss exciting projects and opinions. Our interview series kicks off with Denttabs founder and CEO Axel Kaiser. He talks about his vision for the future, the Fridays-4-Future movement and political responsibility as a company.
We hope you enjoy reading.
How long has Denttabs been around and what was the original idea behind why the tablet was created?
In principle, the whole thing was a joke at the beginning, resulting from a theoretical finding in a doctoral thesis. In brief, it was about how water could be avoided in toothpaste because this would prevent the use of many ingredients that are unnecessary for dental care but potentially critical for the body.
This then turned into a tab, which we initially only sold with this theoretical and hardly provable approach to see what would happen. And it was only through the many feedbacks from users that we came to realize that everything we had previously 'known' about dental care had always been wrong. And is.
This completely irritated us, who have a dental laboratory ourselves. So we began to look more and more deeply into the subject of dental care as a whole. With the resulting knowledge, we approached the industry and wanted to share our knowledge. Unfortunately, without success! Instead of open ears, we were met with incomprehension and sometimes even ridicule. So we took the whole thing into our own hands and have been doing so - still with the strongest commitment - for a good 20 years now.
What was your motivation to believe in this product when the market already had so many dental care products to offer?
The knowledge that the products that the industry offers in so many different ways for dental care are ultimately of no use or even potentially cause harm.
The knowledge that denttabs actually serve people. The awareness that our dental laboratory essentially produces work that would not be necessary if dental care were performed using the Denttabs principle. This knowledge, coupled with my innate stubbornness and tenacity, were the driving forces.
What do you see as the greatest added value of toothbrush tablets?
There is the technical and the philosophical/political part.
- Technically speaking, Denttabs simply start earlier. Instead of brushing the teeth, Denttabs polish them so smoothly that the plaque, the basis for caries, has hardly any chance of forming.
- Due to the dry formulation (tablet), the fluoride contained obviously has a much greater chance of taking effect, which is particularly appreciated by users with sensitive tooth necks.
- The actual approach, the avoidance of systemically potentially problematic ingredients, is always already evident in the oral cavity. Gum bleeding, various inflammations and even periodontitis decrease significantly according to users; to the point of complete disappearance.
Philosophically/politically, Denttabs is an ideal example of our so widespread thoughtlessness. And I am definitely no exception!
It is an essential realization that we do quite a lot of things out of mere matter-of-factness, without really dealing with sense and nonsense. Because we "have always done these things this way". For me, this is where the greatest added value lies! I also grew up "naturally" with toothpaste and have never questioned it. Toothpaste is normal for society, even though it is wrong. So right has always been wrong! Once you understand that, it quickly leads you to question many other things in daily life.
Many things that are taken for granted are due to good marketing and superficial questioning and less to the fact that they really make sense and are right.
And with every new user, the chance increases that we all finally learn to do the 'right thing'.
What do you think has been the biggest success for Denttabs so far?
There is no such thing - rather, there are countless small successes, namely the collected feedback. As a small Berlin backyard company, we receive thank-you notes from users all over the world whose problems, such as sensitive necks of teeth or bleeding gums, have improved significantly or even disappeared completely. The "Denttabs miracles" are also repeatedly reported in comments or posts on social media. These confirmations give me, or Denttabs, the motivation to continue, develop and stick with it because we are doing the right thing.
Everything else was often pure frustration:
Discussions with investors or "experts" were always demotivating and demoralizing when I had to realize how little willingness there was on the other side.
On the other hand, there were now the business successes, which also made the whole thing worthwhile again. Be it the countless unpacked stores, the organic markets or the listing at DM, Rossmann, Budni, Alnatura, DENN's etc..
Retailers have understood that our toothbrush tablets are useful and the demand for them is continuously growing. Denttabs is at a point of no return after all these years. We have arrived in people's minds. They now think about us and about their dental care in a completely different way. I also see this as a great success.
What is Denttabs particularly proud of?
It's difficult to speak of pride here. My stubbornness has certainly contributed a lot to the fact that Denttabs are now where many perceive them to be.
Even if it seems that I was the only one who held out for so long and never wanted to give up, there were many great companions who contributed to the development and success; who accompanied me morally but also very practically on my way. I am incredibly grateful to them for their support. First and foremost, of course, is my brother Matthias, who has more or less managed the dental lab on his own for the past 10 years in particular, while I 'played' with Denttabs.
Another good example is Dr. Martin Neubauer. Long-time friend and supporter of Denttabs for 10 years. Since 2019 he now co-sits with me on the management board. Also Jan Holtfreter, with whom I have been friends for decades, is also a loyal companion with his pro bono work for Denttabs and now a permanent member of the management board.
Denttabs are a member of Entrepreneurs for Future: How important is the movement, that Fridays for Future has initiated, to Denttabs?
The Fridays for Future movement is very representative of what we do at Denttabs, and that's another reason why we support this movement - especially through our involvement with Unternehmensgrün and Entrepreneurs for Future.
Climate action is not just about small changes here and there. It's about nothing less than the very basis of humanity's existence. What people are taking to the streets for here is the future.
And in many ways, that also reflects what we want to achieve with Denttabs.
Where do you see the connection between Denttabs and current climate policy?
The best example is all the plastic packaging that we are used to everywhere nowadays. I grew up quite differently. We got by with much less packaging and also with less "hygiene mania". Fish was wrapped in newspaper and no one minded. It wasn't until we switched to supermarkets instead of traditional retail stores and the many new possibilities of industrial production that came with it, as well as the numerous innovations in the area of (plastic) packaging, that the problems grew in parallel. But these were simply not thought through to the end. Of course, even back then there were always voices pointing out that all this plastic packaging was perhaps not all that sensible, but neither industry nor politics reacted sufficiently to this - after all, money was being made from it. I still remember the enthusiasm when the first "waste incineration plant" was put into operation!
The awareness of the fact that we are feeding parked CO2 back into our atmosphere through petroleum, especially for so-called single-use-plastic, can be no good, came late - long ago we should have taken countermeasures. It is especially my generation that has taken such an appallingly long time to recognize its own mistakes. It is time to acknowledge them and finally implement the necessary corrections.
We must all learn to put "right" before financial "success" in our decisions. We fail neither because of the financial possibilities, nor because of the technology. We are failing because of our ignorance. Instead of finally addressing this and taking action, we are discussing far too much around grandfathering.
If you could spread an important message to everyone with one click, what would your message be?
We need to stop making excuses!
In the pre-internet era, we could still say "I didn't know that!" But that excuse doesn't work today. All information is available at any time!
We can 'naturally' stand up and say "I don't want to bother" or "I don't care".
It's no longer about following a particular ideology or belief. It's about dealing with facts, understanding them, and acting on that knowledge. In the right direction. In all our decisions, the first question must always be: Is this decision right or wrong?
Only then does the question arise as to whether this decision can also be an economic success. The latter must always remain secondary.
If something is not right, we will definitely not do it at Denttabs.
As an entrepreneur, how do you rate political participation?
As an entrepreneur, I don't see myself in a special position. For me, politics is always a matter for everyone. We live in a democracy. And that means that everyone has a say! The difficulty with politics is that it is so short-lived that it is too much of a challenge. A government is elected for 4-5 years. In this time it is called, in particular with change of government, 6-12 months tidy up and sort, until it goes at the latest after 2 years already into the renewed election campaign. Where is the time for long-term decisions? Many long-term issues are in the wrong place in day-to-day politics and should be outsourced to committees that meet continuously and make decisions that are sustainable in the long term.
How does Denttabs get involved on a political level?
What Denttabs does IS politics. We discuss, we demand, we find solutions and we act.
We clearly show where we want to go, where opportunities are hidden and where we see a possible change. With the water-free tablet itself, as well as with our compostable packaging alternative, we are taking the first steps and showing new possibilities in a traditional environment, to say the least.
At our press conference at Biofach/ Vivaness 2020 in Nuremberg, for example, our packaging film was the core topic and we discussed it with representatives from industry and trade. We very consciously put our own packaging up for discussion here.
Only through openness and transparency can we move from contingencies to actual and correct solutions.
The interview with Denttab's founder Axel Kaiser is available for you to DOWNLOAD again.
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We look forward to the exchange.
Stay healthy and all the best.
#ZeroWaste greetings from our Denttabs team in the home office.
#stayhealthy #stayhome #flattenthecurve