Startup co-founders Edward Thomas and Cary Gahm admit their dental staffing app isn’t flashy. “What we do day to day might not be as sexy as NFTs, crypto coins or the Metaverse,” said Gahm, “but changing the way the world works is.”
Their TempMee offers a new and easier way to connect licensed hygienists with dental offices in need of temporary help. The Miami-based startup plans to expand in the dental staffing market as the gig economy continues to be a growing force in the changing world of work.
Launched at the end of 2019, TempMee has already connected 3,000 dental offices with 6,000 on-demand hygienists in Florida and throughout the Southeast, despite the pandemic’s wrath. TempMee plans to open their technology platform to other types of dental professionals this year as the startup begins a national expansion, and fortunately, a group of Florida-based investors understand what the business could grow into.
TempMee is announcing today the closing of its seed round of $4.1 million, led by Roo Capital. Participating in the round were existing investors Florida Funders, Miami Angels, Flamingo Capital, Soliloquy Ventures and Florida Institute, as well as a new investor, Papa founder Andrew Parker’s Park Ventures.
“We’re seeing a dramatic shift unfold, in the occupational licensed space such as dental hygienists, where healthcare employees and employers are shifting more towards a gig economy workplace requiring innovative technology, seamless onboarding, and efficient matching of available shifts,” said Nate DaPore, who is managing partner at Roo Capital and lives in Miami. “TempMee is leading this segment of the market and becoming the platform of choice for modern employment at scale.”
For dental offices, it’s not easy to find trained and licensed dental staff quickly if someone quits, calls in sick or takes maternity leave so they are constantly battling labor shortages. And hygienists, who typically make $40 to $60 an hour, had no way of capitalizing on the gig economy that other industries had embraced. “We saw the opportunity to give them the ability to choose where they work, how they work and when they work,” Gahm said. And dental offices save time, money and aggravation and get better matches with TempMee’s tech than through agencies, they added.
The co-founders thought that the app would attract dental hygienists fresh out of school and they were right. But hygienists with decades of experience who weren’t interested in fulltime work anymore jumped at the opportunity, too. “It’s very hard on their bodies — you’re bent over a chair working on patients all day,” Thomas said.
The co-founders said they have proudly paid out $2 million to dental hygienists so far in a high-paying industry that’s 98% female, 60 percent of which are the breadwinners of their families.
What’s next? “Our plan is to truly build out and dominate in dental. Right now, we offer both temp and permanent placement for hygienists. We’ll be bringing on associate dentists and dental assistants here in the next year and then obviously a national expansion — that’s exactly what we have planned over the next 18 months,” Thomas said.
Longer term, there will be similar opportunities in other industries that need licensed and trained staff. “By focusing on very specific niches that operate the same way, we can group them together and grow very large and really make a huge difference helping a lot of people,” Gahm added.
TempMee, now a team of 12 in a downtown Miami office, is poised to grow. They are now hiring more developers and marketing experts and plan to triple or quadruple their sales team.
Thomas and Gahm have been best friends for 20 years and both grew up in Gaylord, Michigan. Gahm and his wife moved to Miami 10 years ago after falling in love with the city during a visit, and had been trying to persuade Thomas to fly south too. He finally did in late 2019. “It is one of the most welcoming cities, one of the most diverse cities, and one of the greatest places I’ve lived, so yeah, looks like Cary was preaching it for years and then the mayor stole his thunder,” Thomas quipped.
They are both appreciative of Miami Tech’s warm embrace.
“Cary and I always joke that we have made the rounds of the Who’s Who of the Florida tech ecosystem,” said Thomas, and the help they received came at just the right time. After launching the platform in late 2019 just before the pandemic, “we were navigating those rapids as a super young company.”
The co-founders took part in SWOT 305, a 6-month-long program funded by the Knight Foundation and run by Melissa Krinzman and Jamie Nacht Farrell in 2020 that offered one-on-one coaching to Miami startups navigating those rapids. Not only was their expertise and advice valuable to TempMee, but so were their introductions.
Soon, Thomas and Gahm were meeting the Florida Funders team, Chris Adamo, Will Weinraub and Adam Garfield of Flamingo Capital, and Miami Angels’ Rebecca Danta. They all took part in their pre-seed round and again in their seed round they announced today.
“We would be hard pressed to find two founders more energetic and full of contagious optimism than Ed and Cary. Having worked with them now for a year, we have seen them execute and scale at a rapid acceleration rate solving for temp hires at a time when hiring is more difficult than ever and employees are shifting their work life preferences,” said Ryan Whittemore, Florida Funders’ Chief Investment Officer. “We have great confidence in the TempMee team to continue to grow dominating the temp hygienist market and scaling to other parallel verticals.”
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