Being involved in the DSO space for a decade, I have seen quite a bit of change. Having the perspective of history in the industry, it is amazing to see where we’ve come from and where we are headed. I was reminded by Brian Colao (more on him in a moment) during a recent call that my first Dykema DSO conference was in the basement of the Aloft Hotel in Dallas, TX back in 2016. You can read the recap HERE. The 2016 conference had 75 DSOs turn out with a total of 170 attendees.
As a media partner of Dykema, we knew that Brian Colao, Member & Director of Dykema’s DSO Industry Group and Andi Oleszczak, Business Development & Marketing Manager, were going big for the 2021 8th Annual Definitive Conference for Dental Service Organizations. Everyone that Group Dentistry Now spoke to who attended the event said it was a huge success. The event topped out at just over 1,300 attendees, making it the largest Dental Support Organization event in history.
The conference officially started off on Wednesday night, July 28th, with a Kick-Off Reception and then a three hour Dinner Under the Stars sponsored by Covered Care. It was a great way to launch the conference with a reception and then three additional hours of networking, dinner and outdoor enjoyment. However even before that there were pre-meeting activities. TUSK Partners conducted a sold out pre-conference workshop. Right before the kickoff reception a new organization, WinDSO (Women in DSO) had their official launch event. Created in 2019 by Dr. Aman Kaur, it is an organization committed to serve as a platform to advance and promote bright women leaders across the DSO space. Keep your eyes on this organization as they will be hosting their own event in March of 2022 in Las Vegas.
Early A.M on Thursday, Dykema’s fearless DSO leader Brian Colao started with his All Across the DSO Universe introduction. This session included Zachary Hoard, Eric White, Craig Woods and Virgil Ochoa. After the journey across the DSO universe, Dr. Saam Zarrabi, CEO of Rodeo Dental told his DSO’s story with The Power of Best in Class Culture. [Read about Rodeo HERE.] Some other highlights of the day were sessions including important topics like Consumerization of Healthcare with SmileDirectClub [Podcast discussion HERE], Lessons From Best in Class Organizations with Risas Dental Management, Hero Practice Services and Espire Dental and The Power of Women in Dentistry with Dr. Aman Kaur, Julie Bowen, Hollie Williams, Melissa Marquez and Kristi Crum.
The breakout sessions included topics on Finance and Accounting, Digital Hacks to Drive Patient Acquisition, National Dental Healthcare REIT, and Lending.
As Thursday turned to the evening hours, celebrity keynote speaker Mia Hamm told her story to a standing-room only audience. The night ended with a huge outdoor reception party featuring one of the coolest 80s music bands ever, The Spazmatics. Many attendees relived their youth under the stars.
Friday came early for most of us that enjoyed The Spazmatics and some late night networking on the lawn after the concert. The day started with A.J. Peak of Peak Dental Services discussing Integration followed by an Artificial Intelligence panel featuring Wardah Inam and Amol Nirgudkar. The room was crowded for the next discussion as DSOs made sure to listen to the panel – Stories From First-Time DSO Investors with Ryan Heckman of Pallyday Partners and Jason Brown of Fortem Holdings. After the networking break (more on networking in the Highlights section) Brian Colao takes the Pulse of Emerging Dental Groups with Dr. Maryam Beyramian, CEO & Co-Founder of Westwind Dental Health. The Alternative DSO Structure Update was presented by Dr. Steven Wingfield of Dental Whale and Dr. Greg White of PepperPointe Partnerships. Most attendees were still in attendance for the final panel discussion Best Operational Practices with Dee Fischer and Margaret McGuckin.
Group Dentistry Now was fortunate to have a table in the back of the main ballroom where we were able to listen to just about every panel discussion and presentation. From this unique vantage point, we observed the amazing number of attendees that were engaged in the content. The attendees were not only interested in content, but when I walked the exhibit floor during break times, the activity on the exhibit floor was incredible. I can not remember a DSO – or any dental trade show for that matter – where there was so much engagement on the exhibit floor. Speaking from a vendor perspective, it was encouraging to see attendees leveraging the knowledge of the vendors that attended. When we look at what is important to both attendees and vendors at these DSO events, content and networking opportunities battle it out for the most important aspect of a meeting. Brian, Andi and the rest of the Dykema team hit it out of the park with great content and meaningful, abundant networking opportunities. Kudos to a memorable 2021 event.
As we look to next year, the 9th Annual Definitive Conference for DSOs will be back in Aurora, Colorado at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center from July 13th to July 15th. Registration is already open, and believe it or not, people have already started to register. Since the 2021 meeting had over 1,300 attendees, 2022 will be sure to sell out. Make sure you use GDN’s discount code GDNOW22 to save $100 on top of the $695 early bird rate. You can register HERE. I look forward to seeing everyone there again next year and I hope to get a chance to enjoy the lazy river that so many of you told me about.
If you can’t wait to see Brian Colao until next year, he will be speaking at the DSO Leadership Summit in downtown San Francisco on September 7th and 8th right before the CDA North meeting. GDN will be celebrating the Emerging Groups to Watch of 2021 at the event with a one of a kind awards ceremony. There is still time to register using code GDN2021 to save $50. Register HERE.
CEO, Group Dentistry Now
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