When was Invisalign Founded and What's Their History?
Out of curiosity, does anyone know when Invisalign was founded? I read in a magazine that it was started by two students from Stanford University in the late 90s. Is this true?
Align Technology, the parent company of Invisalign, was founded in 1997. Align was started by Kelsey Wirth and Zia Chisti. The two met as business students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. The idea for Invisalign arose when Chisti was wearing a retainer after completing his adult orthodontic treatment. Chisti realized that wearing a clear aligner was less conspicuous and more appropriate for an adult treatment and wondered why clear aligners could not be used to replace traditional metal braces. With that idea, the founders set off on their journey to develop Invisalign. To accomplish this, Chisti and Wirth recruited two engineering students from Stanford - Apostolos Lerios and Brian Freyburger. Together, the students sought out a dental school to test their Invisalign aligners on.
After being rejected by virtually all dental schools, the Invisalign team was eventually able to partner with the University of the Pacific Dental School. Shortly after proving the efficacy of their aligners, the team received funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and continued building their company from a garage in Menlo Park, California.
In 1998 Invisalign was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and shortly after received an additional $140 million in venture capital funding.
With plenty of capital on hand, Invisalign did a large direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing campaign to increase demand for their product. At the time, orthodontists were a bit hesitant to offer Invisalign because they saw it as a threat to traditional braces, their main income generator. However, as demand grew from Invisalign’s DTC campaign, many Orthodontists began offering the treatment. Invisalign would later be offered to general dentists to offer to their patients.
In 2001, Align Technologies went public under the Nasdaq stock symbol ALGN, earning them an additional $130 million in funding. The company grew steadily from that point forward (see stock chart below).
Zia Chisti left Align Technologies in 2005 and founded OrthoClear. After a long legal battle, Align paid Chisti to cease OrthoClear’s operations in 2006.
Invisalign is now a household name and many competitors have arisen. Fortunately for Align Technologies, several of these competitors are only distributors and must still purchase their aligners from Align.