Prof. John Rizvi, Esq.
Indentifying & Solving An Industry Problem
When Donal Inman first came to see my firm several years ago, he outlined his frustration with standard spring aligners, showing us his new idea for treating cross-bites and overcrowded teeth. He saw an opportunity to disrupt the field with patented aligners that worked quickly to straighten teeth at affordable prices.
Donal P. Inman is what you would call a serial entrepreneur, having invented several orthodontic appliances related to teeth straightening over a nine year period that target 65% of the American population in what has now become an $11 billion industry.
As a Certified Dental Technician (CDT), he explained that properly aligned teeth are also easier to clean, preventing plaque, bacteria buildup and cavities. Additionally, improperly aligned teeth also wear down enamel and contribute to tooth loss.
Needless to say, the launch of the Inman Aligner was a startup success story spawning a revolution in the way dentists and orthodontists treated patients. In fact, to this day his orthodontic aligners are often the preferred method to straighten adult teeth, even with the onset of major new competitors in his industry.
Over a period of several years, the patent we secured for him helped cement the national and international reputation of his Inman Orthodontic Laboratory (headquartered in Coral Springs, FL) focusing on innovative patented technology including self-locking power components, dental clasps, and invisible spring aligners.
Today over 4 million Americans wear braces, and Inman Aligners form a sizable portion of that number. He has quite literally transformed a 100-year old industry, helping adults acquire a winning smile with little discomfort and cost.
“A great smile helps you feel better and more confident, It can literally change how people see you—at work and in your personal life,” said the American Association of Orthodontists, a key motivator for Don as he went about reshaping his industry.
His braces work quicker than most competitive products, relying upon forces created by coiled springs in the aligner to squeeze the teeth into position. Most patients see favorable results within 6-18 weeks since the device is removable, conforming to anyone’s lifestyle.
Don would pioneer a number of technological advances in his industry, including the Lifetime Lingual Retainer and the first-ever CAD/CAM orthodontic appliance. His digital process is also used by Intelligent Alignment Systems for Clear Smile Aligners and Clear Smile Braces. His lab would later perfect Laser welding, allowing better fabrication and stronger appliances by reducing or eliminating the use of silver solder.
His patented orthodontic inventions have garnered him considerable acclaim and influence. Over the years he has served as President of the Florida Laboratory Association and won Honorary Recognition By The Florida Governor for New Products in the Small Company Category. He was also awarded the Florida Dental Laboratory Association Crowning Achievement Award, the highest honor of the FDLA and has lectured at the American Association of Orthodontists meeting.
He continues to lecture at state and regional laboratory conferences stating that, “my long-term goal is to move dental technology from a trade to a profession through education and attitude.”
Don has relentlessly pursued innovation within the orthodontic and pedodontic field using his laboratory as a springboard for new product development. Orthodontists are drawn to his product line because they make wearing appliances fun and exciting for patients.
The lab recently introduced custom designs and colors into the mix, allowing patients to personalize their aligners. This has become increasingly popular with the younger patients who love showing off the “cool” branding to friends and family.
Steve Blank, a pioneer of the Lean Startup Movement, once said “As an entrepreneur, my problem was that I had too many ideas,” reflecting the dilemma facing many inventors who I come into contact with. What makes my firm’s client Donald P. Inman so different is that he took decisive action to implement and protect his ideas, leading to a lifetime of creativity and commercial success that continues to the present day.
Well done, Don. Keep those ideas coming!