Dental entrepreneurs appear on Dragons’ Den

06 May 2021
3 min read
Published:

Dentists Rhona Eskander and Simon Chard recently appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den to pitch Pärla toothpaste tabs – their range of ethical and eco-friendly toothpaste tablets.

Founded by Rhona, Simon and fellow dentist Adarsh Thanki, Pärla is a proposed solution to the large amount of waste generated by regular toothpaste packaging and production. To reduce plastic waste, the product comes in a glass jar with an aluminium lid and biodegradable label (infinitely recyclable but ideally reusable, according to Simon) and is sent in a compostable bag, and subscribers have the option to only have the product delivered every four months to reduce the carbon footprint of delivery. In addition to being vegan and cruelty-free, Pärla toothpaste tablets also avoid ingredients like palm oil and sodium lauryl sulphate.   

Simon explained, “Rhona and I have both been ambassadors for most of the big toothpaste companies over the years. After watching TV programmes like Plastic Ocean and Planet Earth, we educated ourselves on the plastic problem in dentistry – specifically in relation to toothpaste tubes. We realised that although we were making efforts to limit our impact on the planet in our personal lives, we were contributing to the problem professionally – so we came together to make a change! Adarsh Thanki has been a business mentor to both of us and had experience with consumer brands, and so that’s how the team was born. 

“We then embarked on a year-long voyage of the different eco-toothpaste options and ingredients we could bring to market. After working with some of the best creative houses and laboratories in the UK we created Pärla – designed by dentists to be good for you and the planet.”

Rhona added, “We want to radically disrupt an outdated toothpaste market. Toothpaste tubes are one of the contributors in the plastic problem – it takes 500 years for toothpaste tubes to decompose. This is a shocking statistic.” 

Although there are already some eco-friendly toothpastes and toothpaste tablets on the market, many of these do not contain ingredients to thoroughly protect the oral health of consumers – including all-important fluoride. The team behind Pärla have specifically formulated the product to protect against dental decay, with 1450ppm of fluoride per tablet. Simon commented, “Before we launched Pärla, almost all of the other eco-friendly toothpaste tablet options were fluoride-free – this wasn’t acceptable for us as dentists. So, we created our own. With our ethical purpose and professional dental knowledge, we felt we were perfectly placed to create the ultimate eco-friendly toothpaste with sustainable packaging and ethical ingredients.”

Simon and Rhona were approached to feature on Dragons’ Den to pitch their product after appearing on ITV’s This Morning in July last year as part of a segment on the best plastic-free beauty products of 2020.

The episode of Dragons’ Den, which aired on April 29, saw Rhona and Simon ask for a £70,000 investment in return for a nine per cent stake in their business. Tej Lalvani made an offer for all of the money, for three times the equity offered, and Deborah Meaden matched the offer. Ultimately, Rhona and Simon walked away from the 30 per cent stake offered as they didn’t want to lose that much of a share in their business – but the entrepreneurs are still glad they went on the show. Rhona commented, “It was the most incredible experience – I’ve been obsessed with Dragons’ Den since I was 18. It has been a dream to be on the show for a long time, but I never thought I had anything to offer. The truth is, I’ve been manifesting the dream. It took a lot of preparation and hard work, but it was worth it.”

Simon added, “It was as daunting as it looks on TV – it was two and a half hours of grilling all recorded under the lights, but it was an incredible experience and one that we will both never forget! 

Off the back of their appearance on the show, the Pärla team has now launched two new products – Pärla Pro and the Pärla Brush.

Pärla Pro has added hydroxyapatite for remineralisation and high-gloss whitening, potassium citrate for anti-sensitivity, and vitamins E and B12 to support a healthy immune system. Simon said, “We know vegans can often be deficient in vitamin B12, and as a vegan toothpaste we thought this could be really helpful for our customers!”

The Pärla Brush is a manual toothbrush which is fully plant-based and compostable. Simon explained, “Most bamboo brushes contain nylon in the bristles made of fossil fuels – ours is made completely of castor beans, so it all goes back to the earth at the end of its life." 

The team has many more products on the way, but they’re keeping them a secret for now. Updates are posted on Pärla’s Instagram account (@parlatoothpastetabs), and you can visit www.parlatoothpastetabs.com for more information.

If you’re a dentist interested in stocking Pärla, email hayley@parlatoothpastetabs.com for more details.