A Female Tech Founder Story to Smile About
Earlier this year, we sat down with an Atlanta-based entrepreneur with a powerful story. A true “mavHERick” and uber-connector, Tonya Lanthier is the founder and CEO of DentalPost, the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board that helps dental professionals build teams that excel through metric-based career matching tools, including personality tests and values, skills and work culture assessments.
Tonya is a Registered Dental Hygienist, a mom to two teenage girls, and built this business from the ground up with no investors. We were excited to sit down with Tonya to learn more about her story and how she found success.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got started.
I practiced hygiene for a while after I got out of dental hygiene school. When I went to start a family, I started having infertility issues. With that struggle, I needed more flexibility in my schedule. So I started temping at over 100 different offices. When I did that, I started to notice the offices that were great where the leaders showed up and people were happy, and also the offices where leaders didn’t show up and people weren’t so happy. I started moving people around based on their personalities and core values. Going from office to office gave me a birds eye view that other people couldn’t see.
At what point did the light bulb come on that you should turn this into a business?
I’ve always wanted to help people. I’m a hygienist—I make people feel better about themselves and their health. When I saw people not happy in these offices, I knew I could move them to the right place. I formed a group of women temp hygienists—a trust circle. My husband built the website, and I did the marketing. I went from office to office handing out fliers, and it grew from there.
How do you stay ahead in business?
Going to all of those offices and listening to what people wanted and also going outside of my industry to learn. I joined Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), which gave me a chance to go to London Business School for a week and MIT for three years. It’s been the best thing I ever did to open the resources for me to understand how to grow my business. I also went to Inc Women’s Summit, and that opened my eyes a lot.
“You have to be passionate about what you’re doing, or the fire won’t be there. Kick out the crazy roommate in your head, get rid of that negative talk, and tell yourself you can. I say it every morning in the mirror.” @Tlanthier
What inspires you to do this work?
When I was a little girl, I knocked my tooth out on a bicycle rack. I always say I went head-first into dentistry. I had to go to the hospital and ended up needing implants. Going through that journey and trauma of losing your smile as a child has been hard. I’ve had to teach myself to smile again because I’ve had so much trauma as a child. The team was so good to me. They gave me their time and their love, and it made me want to do that for others. It also inspired me to raise money for AACD's Give Back a Smile program.
How do you find balance in your role as a CEO and a mom?
I’m not perfect. My grandmother used to say, “You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything.” As women, we think we can do everything, but we can’t do everything and expect to be good at everything. You falter in some areas. I wanted to make sure everything was good for my children, and I wanted a career. When you want to balance that out, you’ve got to pull in resources. I also had to learn how to take care of myself because things started breaking down. If you don’t manage your stress, your stress will manage you.
What’s next for your growing business?
I’m building an ecosystem. I’ve built edu.DentalPost.net for education, and I’m building a team management/HR suite. In dentistry, there’s no one out there providing anything for the team, really. I think there’s a lot of data opportunities. I have tons of data that I think can help a lot of people.
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