SoClean, so global

‘2018 is all about international expansion,’ says CEO Robert Wilkins
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Friday, February 2, 2018

OXFORD, Mass. – SoClean and its CPAP cleaning and sanitizing device have a new majority controller.

DW Healthcare Partners, a healthcare-focused private equity firm based in Toronto, now owns a little more than 50% of the company.

“We went out looking for partners and it took almost a year, as there were several interested parties and offers, and we decided on DWH,” said Robert Wilkins, who has been with SoClean since its inception and has been its full-time CEO since 2015. “They’re going to help us navigate the next three years of growth.”

DWH’s investment also allows SoClean to provide liquidity to several long-time investors and employees.

The first thing on SoClean’s to-do list with DWH’s backing: expand outside of the United States, Wilkins says.

“SoClean is currently sold and available in the U.K. and Australia through distributors,” he said. “We are continuing to expand our international reach by opening up direct Amazon marketplaces and new subdirectories in the U.K., Australia, Canada, France and Germany over the next six months. 2018 is all about international expansion.”

The second thing: SoClean plans to look at how it can use its technology in other applications in health care, Wilkins said.

“We’re planning to have another product out in 2019,” he said.

The key to SoClean’s success to date is marketing, Wilkins says. The company has successfully sold its device not only through HME providers but also directly to consumers through TV, radio, newspaper and online advertising.

“We got to a certain point with the channel that there wasn’t growth there anymore,” he said. “It wasn’t until we started spending well over a $1 million each month on advertising that we increased customer awareness and saw explosive growth.”

Despite providers being on high alert for vendors going direct-to-consumer, SoClean, much like Inogen, has found a way to make both businesses work, Wilkins says.

“Providers like the product because they don’t have to do paperwork and it’s a cash sale, and we’re promoting sales for them,” he said. “Their customers are asking them, ‘I saw this online; should I use this,’ and they’re saying, ‘Yes, and we can sell it to you.’ It creates a conversation that wasn’t there before.”

One thing SoClean won’t be doing, Wilkins says: applying for coding coverage and reimbursement from payers.

“It’s a road block to success,” he said.