Bryan Laskin, DDS is the founder of Lake Minnetonka Dental in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Along with founding his dental practice, Dr. Laskin has started several technology companies to aid healthcare practices including a HIPAA compliant communication system called OperaDDS and a virtual reality system for dental patients called OperaVR. Dr. Laskin is passionate about improving lives by elevating health through teamwork and technology. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, Minnesota Dental Association, Minneapolis District Dental Society, and several continuing education organizations. Dr. Laskin regularly donates his time and services to Donated Dental Services, volunteering comprehensive dental treatment free of charge to the disabled, elderly, or medically compromised individuals who cannot afford necessary treatment nor get public aid. He and his wife, Tesa, have two beautiful children, and in his spare time he enjoys martial arts, snowboarding, and guitar.
All of the technology ideas that I’ve brought to life originated from me creating solutions to problems that I saw in my own practice. My focus is on using technology to improve the patient experience and make life easier for dentists.
As a dentist, I was looking for a communication system that was both effective and HIPAA compliant. I couldn’t find a viable solution, so I created one. I wanted an end-to-end system that included everything from paperless, patient-facing forms to phone texting applications that improve patient recall to a texting platform that allows patients to communicate the way that is most convenient to them. OperaDDS does that all. It helped our office run smoothly, efficiently and securely, so we wanted to help other providers do the same.
I began working on OperaVR after hearing from a speaker who talked about the benefits of virtual reality in treating pain and anxiety. The more research I did, the more convinced I became that it could improve the patient experience at dental practices. Anxiety prevents a lot of people from going to the dentist to get needed care. OperaVR has been a way to reach those patients, transport them to another world virtually and get them the care they need.
I like to start early to be productive. On a typical day, I wake up around 5 a.m. and exercise. While each day can be very different, I like to be hyper scheduled and avoid things like open-ended meetings. At the end of every day I pick three big objectives for the following day. I rank them 1 to 3, and I tackle them in order the following day. Having a few priorities every day and being very clear about them helps me to get less sidetracked.
I like to solve complex problems with easy solutions by breaking a problem down to the most basic solution I can create and then testing it. I start with the easiest product to fix an issue and build it up from there. I make changes and tweaks based on where I think the product should end up long term and what people tell me they want for it in the short term. Every idea for a product I have brought to life started as a more basic version of what it is now. The key is not to get overwhelmed. If you have a kernel of an idea, get started.
Feedback and how you deal with it is also key in bringing ideas to life. I have to have conviction in my idea and confidence that I understand the problem I am solving better than anyone. Understanding what feedback to act on has been crucial for me. If people can’t see your vision, their feedback can get you off track. If you ignore feedback, you can develop a solution that no one cares about. I listen to feedback, but then make my own decisions. I’ve always lead with my gut.
Virtual reality excites me. The power of therapeutic VR is barely being understood right now, but the transformation I’ve seen with patients has been phenomenal. It’s not just me, either. The dentists who are using OperaVR tell me the same thing; they’re blown away by the positive reactions from their patients. I think the healthcare applications for virtual reality are limitless. I have a friend who was in intense pain every time her husband had to change the dressing on a wound on her chest. She was desperate for some relief and asked me if she could try using OperaVR at home to distract her when her husband redresses the wound. She said it made an incredible difference. The experience motivated me to begin work on a straight to consumer VR product that anyone can buy and use at home for therapies like this. It’s in development right now. This experience with a friend is just one example of how VR’s power to ease pain and anxiety can be life-changing. This is a very exciting time for VR.
Meditation is key for me. I try to make sure I meditate every morning before I get my day started. When something comes up that causes me to skip meditating, I am not nearly as focused, and the difference throughout my day is clear. As an entrepreneur and creator of multiple products, there is always a lot swirling through my mind. Meditating allows me to take all of those thoughts and bring focus.
I would tell my younger self to think bigger. I’m in this amazing position where I am combining my passion for technology and my passion for dentistry. If I would have believed this was an option earlier in my career, I’m convinced I’d be even further along and would have developed even more innovative tech products. Trusting my gut has been key, and I wish I would have started doing it sooner.
The Star Wars prequels are actually really good! I’m showing my colors here as a huge Star Wars fan. I know people think the prequels are garbage, but I saw Episode I in the theatre seven times. The art direction was amazing. They introduced iconic characters like Darth Maul and General Grievous. On top of that, the John Williams soundtracks are some of the best. I know it’s not a popular opinion, but I stand by it!
Maintain your curiosity. I question myself at every turn. If you think you know something or have it completely figured out, that is when you start to fail. Remaining curious allows you the ability to adapt. The marketplace is constantly changing, especially with technology. It’s easier to adapt to the changes if you are constantly questioning.
Building a great team and then not being afraid to rely on them has been huge for me. Delegating has definitely helped me grow my businesses. I am self aware enough to know that I am stronger in some areas than others. There are also tasks I believe I can be good at, but they are energy draining for me. It’s been crucial for me to build a team full of people that are good at doing the things I don’t enjoy doing. It allows me to focus on thinking big, concentrate on growing my companies and continue to innovate.
I’ve had multiple failures as an entrepreneur, and I think that’s a good thing! I’m committed to staying on the cutting edge of technology, but not all my ideas have worked. There have been multiple times I’ve created products that I felt were important but no one else cared about. Every one of those products was a learning experience that made me better. I’ve overcome those failures by constantly testing the marketplace. I put the product out there and if it fails or I quickly realize it is going to fail I move on. I think this is part of innovation.
Some of my first product ideas were related to pizza, and I still think they’d be hits. One is a pizza oven with a mirror on the bottom so you can see when the crust is done cooking without taking the pizza out or trying to lift it up. The other is a pizza cutter that can use magnetic slicers so you can cut an equal size of an odd number of slices. I got an A when I presented those ideas in a high school class, and I still hope someone runs with them.
I just bought a Neo Geo Mini video game system. It’s a 6-inch version of a classic arcade machine that I played in my teenage years. It’s been a blast to go back to some of the technology I grew up being excited about. But, the best part is that my son told me yesterday, “I like the Neo Geo better than our PlayStation.” It warmed my heart to see him connect with something I have such fond memories of.
The chat feature of OperaDDS was a game changer for interoffice communication with my team. Old methods like chasing each other down or using headsets or light systems were not efficient. The chat feature allows me to coordinate with the team via instant messaging that is secure and can be read right on an Apple Watch. It has been a key to increasing productivity and administering high quality care to patients. We can send patient updates or handoff checklists electronically. It means we’re all walking into every appointment prepared and not wasting our time or the patient’s time.
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
In the speed of today’s world, it’s easy to be passed over or have your message overwhelmed by noise. This book talks about the importance of making sure you are giving people a simple, clear message that communicates your ideas. I think it’s vital for entrepreneurs, and in this book, Donald Miller does a great job of explaining how to do it.
“A smart man can get himself out of a situation that a wise man wouldn’t get into in the first place.”
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I get to practice dentistry my way. I went into a practice with a mentor doctor, so I can get advice if there’s a case I haven’t seen before. Plus, there’s a lot of room for growth. The plan is for me to become the senior doctor at my own office.