Dr. Kourosh Maddahi: Founder & CEO of Lumineux

Episode 525

On this episode of The Kara Goldin Show, Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, Founder and CEO of Lumineux, shares all about his journey as a cosmetic dentist and an entrepreneur. His curiosity about the oral microbiome and the frustration with the limitations of traditional oral care, inspired him to create this line of non-toxic, safe and effective oral care products that focus on neutralizing harmful toxins in the mouth. Dr. Maddahi shares all about the numerous evidence-based research and trials that were conducted to validate the effectiveness of Lumineux products. Dr. Maddahi also discusses the challenges of building a physical goods company and the importance of marketing and educating consumers as well as his deep commitment to creating non-toxic, safe, and effective oral health solutions. If you are interested in hearing all about the future of dental care and the science of the oral microbiome, or just looking to improve your own oral health regimen, you won't want to miss this enlightening conversation! Now on this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow. 

Resources from
this episode:


Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, its Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. I’m super excited to introduce you to our next guest. We have Dr. Maddahi, he who is the founder and CEO of Lumineux. And he is not only a doctor, as he and I were just chatting, but he is also an entrepreneur. And I love seeing the curiosity of somebody who is practicing. He is a renowned Cosmetic Dentist currently in the Beverly Hills area. But also just a trailblazer in oral care, has done a lot of really interesting things as I was playing around on this website. But Lumineuxs stands out in the crowded oral care market focusing on neutralizing harmful toxins in the mouth while preserving your natural ecosystems. So we’ll get a lot more into that. But he and his team developed these incredible products that are non toxic, safe and effective for teeth whitening, but so much more. We’re going to have a very enlightening conversations. So it’s such an honor that we got you to come on. So thank you so much, Dr. Maddahi.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 1:57
Thank you so much, Kara. Thank you for having me on.

Kara Goldin 2:00
Absolutely. So tell us a bit about you. First, before we get into the company, I’d love to hear a little bit about you and your practice. And can you tell us a bit about how you got so interested in the science of the oral micro biome? Sure. So

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 2:17
a little bit of a background information. I wanted to be a dentist since I was 13 years old. So fast forward, I graduated from undergraduate from UCLA at the age of 20. At age 24, I already have my practice in Beverly Hills. It’s always I’m a very much of a goal oriented type of a person. I’m very, very curious. I’m curious about human emotional reaction, why people react in a certain way to similar situations. Even as a kid that was the curiosity that automatically I had. And we go all the way to what makes us actually survived for 1000s of years. So when I’m talking to you about the oral care products, that was the burning question for me, without any modern science, how did we survive for 1000s of years, without really toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrush, what happened? What what’s protecting us, not just in terms of our mouth, but in terms of our well being. And that’s how it all started. 20 years later, I, having tried every single product on the market to solve some of the pay problems that my patients were having, such as bleeding, gums, cavities, whitening sensitivity, all of these things came to a boiling point that I could no longer take it and I decided I gotta do something about it. So

Kara Goldin 3:53
you started just going in and doing your own research. And, and this was going on for years. Obviously, you had your own test cases where you were seeing people with so many problems, what inspired you then to say, Okay, it’s got to be now Lumineux is coming to the world. So

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 4:11
I think the frustration after 28 years of practice, got to the point that I knew I was doing a disservice to my patients. So certain people can no longer whiten their teeth because their teeth were too sensitive. people for no apparent reason had gum inflammation. And I also some saw certain patients in Italy. And what I saw in those patients, even though they had bad root canals, even though they didn’t have such a good or hygiene sort of care at home yet, the amount of bleeding gums the amount of infection in their mouth was so little compared to all the patients that I was seeing the United States So that started the whole ball rolling, started with diet. What is it in our diet that’s doing these type of things? And what type of an effect it has. And then it snowballed into this whole idea of antiseptic, mouthwash, toothpaste, killing bacteria. And that’s where I went back again, when I was telling you with regard to the question, what’s helping us survive for 1000s of years, it boiled down to microbiome. The microbiome is a network of micro organisms, mainly are bacteria. But there are viruses, bad bacteria, fungi, guys, all sorts of things, that’s in. In a network that’s covering our body, our entire skin is covered by microbiome. Our eyes are covered by microbiome, our ears, our nose, or mouth, the birth canal. So the first time the baby is gets introduced to the whole idea of microbiome is to burst. So then the question is, how is the microbiome actually protecting us? And the answers were very interesting because the microbiome, first of all, by taking up real estate, taking a is coding your mouth, that’s taken up real estate, coding your skin is taking up real estate. So in order for bad bacteria to grow viruses to grow, they need to adhere to some tissue, and then grow. So if the real estate is all taken up with the microbiome, it will be very difficult for these bad bacteria, viruses and everything to actually stick and then grow. So real estate was number one. Number two, there is a symbiotic relationship between the microbiome and your immune system. And how what that is, is that because within the microbiome, there are certain levels of bad bacteria and viruses, it helps the immune system produce antibodies, because there are such a low level, they’re not actually harming you, and having that antibody there helps protect you, when the levels of the bad bacteria and viruses go up. There antibodies already there helping you against these types of disease and infection. So people normally think our immune system is the primary defense mechanism. But in actuality, it’s our it is not in actuality, it’s the microbiome is a first line of defense, the immune system gets activated once there is an infection. So

Kara Goldin 7:55
even if you are set on your, your existing oral care products, it sounds like what you’ve developed actually should come even before that, right if you are dead set on that mouthwash because you believe that it kills your bacteria. It’s like you’re sort of putting a temporary Band Aid it sounds like and what yours is doing is actually getting to the problem, even before. Yeah,

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 8:22
absolutely. So all the mouthwash and toothpaste you’re using is using the science, which in my opinion is completely outdated. So the entirety of dental profession has been so obsessed with killing bacteria. The reason for it is that bacteria causes gum disease causes cavities, and causes bad breath. So if bacteria is causing these problems, let’s go get rid of the bacteria. So it’s not so simple, because you’re not just going to go get rid of these types of bacteria, you’re going after F all of the bacteria good and bad, and destroying it all. So when you pick up these boxes of mouthwash and toothpaste as kills 99.9% of the germs, it includes also all of the germs that are the good bacteria as well. So it’s just not the bad is good and bad. So 2% of all bacteria are bad. 98% of all bacteria are good. So what we are doing, we’re killing the 98% because of the 2% so interesting. That’s where things go wrong.

Kara Goldin 9:38
Yeah, no, that’s so interesting and makes a ton of sense. So I love that, you know, you had this concept that you believed and then you went a step forward and had some different scientific research done a lot of scientific research done. Can you talk a little bit about that where it was almost like you you want to To check to make sure that you are right on the sweat, but it’s I love how much you wanted to go and develop something only if you were positive that you were going to be able to help people, which is super great. Absolutely.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 10:14
So as a doctor, you always want to take care of patients, and you want to make sure you’re doing them. The the, you’re taking care of them the right way. Now added to that my own personality, I’m a scientist at heart, I always want to make sure whatever it is that I’m doing is based on evidence based research. So what started happening is that with the products, every single product that I was working on, I hooked up with University of California University of California, Irvine, research team, and they helped to conduct double blind, independent studies done at the university level, to make sure what we are talking about is actually true. So, to date, we have done 65 clinical studies. And this is beyond what even major companies do. But it’s the love of research, and also trying to really truly find a better way of protecting people, rather than just killing the bacteria. So instead of killing the bacteria, what are we doing? So, there was a 10 year study done by one of my chief scientific officer, which did a research study on homeless kids in Manila. And these kids were infected with a type of bacteria called a bacteria. And they aa bacteria infects the lower front teeth, upper front teeth, and the back molars where there is gum loss and bone loss. But the rest of the mouth is okay. So you can really see a bacteria. In fact, more than billion and a half people in the world, in areas such as Asia, Middle East, South America, Philippines, there’s a lot of people are infected with this type of bacteria. What he asked them to do was rub sea salt on the ground twice a day. And he followed them for 10 years. And what he found was that the disease stopped yet, the AAA bacteria was still alive. So it’s not the bacteria is the toxins that are being produced from the bacteria that’s causing these issues. And that’s why it was so important to focus on the toxins, rather than the bacteria themselves. So what our products do, we don’t kill any bacteria, we just neutralizing the harmful toxins or the bad bacteria.

Kara Goldin 12:57
So it’s one thing to rise from nothing. And in a gentle career to being at the level that you’re at. It’s another thing to start a company, I love the fact that you are successful and in one area, and you sort of went back down to the bottom to go and try and build something. So that’s Lumina. And I mean, it’s absolutely incredible. But what is the hardest thing for you as a entrepreneur, a founder and a CEO, about building a physical goods company, first of all, but also, you know, there’s probably a lot of education that you have to, you know, explain to people why this is better than something else. But I’d love to hear from you.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 13:48
I think firstly, you’ve got to be crazy to want to create a consumer packaged goods, because in reality, who are our competitors, 90% of the oral care products in the world is sold by four companies, Procter and Gamble, Colgate church, and Dwight and Johnson and Johnson. So why would you want to go in and compete with these types of company, and on top of it, you’re trying to disprove 70 years of research, you got to be out of your mind. So I think what is true is how passionate are you about the mission that you want to take on? And then once you figure out this is absolutely the right thing to do. What you run into, for example, there is no preservatives in our products. Getting a manufacturer to produce an oral care product without preservative was the hardest thing in the world. We went after one after another, another another another until we found after maybe 1020 tries a particular company that was willing to do it. The particular way that I was asked them then to do with pasture is Patience and all of these different things. So the manufacturing absolutely is very, very hard. This is the reason why it is so difficult to have products with clean ingredients. The manufacturers are the number one problem because they have so much liability on their end, they don’t want to take any risks, and they oppose you at every turn. And they want you to find a different way of doing it rather than that. So that’s number one. Then when you have created the product, how do you market it? How do you the best product you have in the world is 10% of the work 90% is marketing? How do you market it? How do you explain it so people could understand it? That’s why the whitening made sense because people automatically want to whiter teeth. They they’re used to doing things with a teacher get whiter teeth, and they do anything to have whiter teeth. So our pathway into the world of oral care was with whitening, even though we are much greater than just a whitening company.

Kara Goldin 16:06
If I have this right, you’re divided into three different segments right for your for your company. Can you explain a little bit more about that the the whitening is one segment. But the other two, do I have that correct. They’re kind of silos within the bigger platform.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 16:26
Yeah, so we have things for whitening. We also have things for sensitive teeth. We also have things for dry mouth. And also people that just want to have fresh breath and making sure that there is for different segments. And the entirety of the population falls within one of these areas. So the entirety of the population can be divided into four categories. There are people that are only interested in making sure that their gums and teeth are healthy. And they have fresh breath. Second category of people they want to make sure that they have whiter teeth. Third category are interested in having non non sensitive teeth. And the fourth category are people that are suffering from dry mouth. And that’s going to be the biggest growth in terms of the population is the dry mouth section. So I want to take a moment and explain this to you. Because people that are breathing through their mouth because of having a period septum or having allergies and allergies are on the rise. So more and more people are actually having to breathe through their mouth rather than through their nose. Second category of people are people there are medications, especially psychiatric medication, antidepressants, anti anxiety, even some heart medication, kidney medications, there’s 450 different types of medications, if you take it on a regular basis, causes dry mouth. And what do we mean by dry mouth is that the actual production of saliva is reduced. And because saliva is the first line of defense inside the mouth is a natural antibiotic there. And when you don’t have saliva, the cavity causing bacteria rises to a huge level and you start to have uncontrolled cavities. So having a dry mouth, mouthwash was a key because our mouthwash stimulates saliva, saliva production. So people that have dry mouth usually say that I drink a lot of water. Actually, drinking water makes the dry mouth worse because it dilutes the level of saliva that they have even further. So what you need the saliva not moisture in the mouth. So interesting. That’s the other category.

Kara Goldin 19:07
Really, really interesting. And so what is the top seller of any of your products so far? Our

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 19:15
whitening strips is the number one than our Whitening Pen which is a stain repellent and a Whitening Pen So for people that drink tea, coffee, blueberry, BlackBerry, red wine, they can just brush on the whitening gel on their teeth right before they drink any staining liquids and it protects their teeth for two to four hours. And if they leave it on for half an hour it widens their teeth. That’s the second best and then the our whitening toothpaste of course, is is used on a daily basis by 1000s of people. And then our mouthwash, their sensitivity toothpaste, mouthwash, all also has its category and our dry mouth. The mouth wash also has a popular following as well. That’s

Kara Goldin 20:06
awesome. So I always say that entrepreneurs get their most energy from hearing from consumers, right that you’re on the right track, and that people don’t continue to create and and build on an idea unless they feel like they’re doing something. Right. So has there been any stories that you’ve heard from, from patients or or consumers who have bought the luminol products that they’re like, Thank you, doctor for making this that you’ve like, changed my life? Sure.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 20:44
So first of all, because I’m a dentist, on top of being an entrepreneur, getting that satisfaction is very easy, because I see patients all the time and all my patients are using these products. And they tell me how much that gum bleeding that was always nagging them has changed, or their bad breath that they had is finally gone, all of those things, or they can, again, a white denture teeth, because we don’t have any peroxide. So we don’t have caused any sensitivity, where they couldn’t do any more whitening because of the sensitivity that they had in their teeth. But I think if I go to the best story that I can tell you is a lady that came to my office, gave a note to my front desk and says I want to talk to document it. So what is this about this is personnel, I need to talk to him. I’m a I’ve been using his products for now two years, I need to talk to him. So I was with a patient they came past the note said that there’s somebody wants to meet you at the front desk. So as soon as I was finished, I went up and said, Hi, how you doing? So it’s great. I, I want to first of all, thank you so much for saving my life. I said how did I save your life? This well, your dry mouth mouthwash, I was getting cavities all over my mouth. And I never knew in one of your podcasts, you talked about the effect of dry mouth. And you talked about your dry mouth mouthwash. Ever since I’ve been using it. My whole mouth is pierced so much healthier. So I did not end up losing more teeth. So what you see my mouth now is I owe it to you. I wanted to get my hand and kiss my hand I thought but this is this is why you go to great length. And you want to produce things and you want to create things that has a huge impact on people.

Kara Goldin 22:42
Yeah, and I mean, it’s your legacy, right? And now you’re you’re doing really, really great things. So look, looking to the future. How do you see Lumineux evolving? And are there new innovations that you’re really hoping to bring into the marketplace soon? So

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 23:00
our latest innovation has been our electric toothbrush. So why would we anything that I produce anything that I create has to be something revolutionary. So when there’s so many toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes on the market, why would I want to go spend time creating another electric toothbrush. So this particular toothbrush that I’m talking to you about is something we started with a manual toothbrush with a bamboo head with castor oil and derived bristles. Why the reason was 30% to 40% of gum recession that you see in people is due to improper brushing, or a wrong toothbrush. So when they’re scrubbing their teeth, they tend to destroy their gum. So what happened was when the electric toothbrushes such as Sonicare and Oral B came into the market, the rate of gum recession that I saw in my practice actually increased. Because now because of the electric toothbrush, they were even the scrubbing of the teeth and the gum was even further impacted. Because the electric toothbrush is so much stronger so you can remove more gums much faster. With an electric toothbrush, you just leave it on the teeth and you let the electric toothbrush do the work rather than you going back and forth. But that’s not what people did. So, coming up with this type of a bristle that’s flexible, that soft, yet it cleans teeth properly, was trying to overcome the fact that even if somebody’s not brushing properly, and even if they were scrubbing their teeth, there would not be any damage to their gums. So that’s took coming out with the toothbrush itself, or manual toothbrush was five years ago. And then making that into an electric toothbrush with that type of a bristle with the bamboo handle, took another three and a half years of research and figuring things out. And now that’s finally out. And that’s how, that’s how much work and research goes into every single product that’s coming up. And there’s other products is constantly, the one thing I don’t have is a lack of idea. Because I see patients every day when you have your own laboratory is your own office, and all of the patients that are flying in from all over the world to see you. Now you see all sorts of problems. And also being on the doctor’s show for multiple seasons, and seeing what people are suffering from. You have to problem solve. You have to figure out ways as to how you can take care of these people better. Yeah,

Kara Goldin 25:51
no, I love it. But I, I totally hear you as an entrepreneur myself. I’m constantly thinking of ideas. And it’s, and I think it’s just takes a lot of courage, though, to go and develop something. And especially, I love your story. Because just because you climb a ladder and get to success, that doesn’t mean you have to stop. In fact, that sort of shows you that you can actually do really hard things and and take your idea and take those steps. What other advice would you give last question for any entrepreneur out there is thinking about, you know, I’ve got an idea for a company like, what, what should what should they do?

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 26:36
I don’t want to give one advice, but I want to give it several that all encompasses one single idea. The idea is, don’t be afraid of hard work. Don’t be afraid of pressure. Don’t be afraid of things going wrong. You have to have a personality that embraces challenges, embraces the pain you’re experiencing as you’re trying to expand an idea and getting something off the ground. Every single billionaire, every single billionaire, which I have read their biography, they were near bankruptcy or they have filed for bankruptcy. So this is not a strange idea. When you’re trying to grow something, you feel like you’re going to suffocate, you’re going to ask yourself, why did I do this? Why was I so crazy, I spent all of this money, everything is gone. All of those things is what you will go through in terms of getting to success, you have to really the product you’re developing, you have to be passionate about it. Now you have to have a real reason as to why you want to do this thing. It cannot just be because of money. Because when your focus is just the money, and you don’t have the passion, at some point, you’re gonna give up. But if the story behind the blood you are producing is something that’s so helpful, and is so great. And you’re so passionate about the byproduct of that type of a product, Will you also be money. So that’s what I would tell people.

Kara Goldin 28:17
I love that. So Dr. Maddahi, he founder and CEO of Lumineux. Thank you so much. And good luck. Thank you for bringing these products to market. We’ll have all the info in the show notes where to buy it, but it’s available on Amazon and target and lots of incredible stores. Whole Foods I think I saw I’ve seen it there. Walmart. Yeah, amazing. And, of course, on the website, too. But thank you so much very, very impressed with everything that you’re doing. And it’s a terrific line of products.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi 28:51
Thank you so much. I want to really thank you, Kara, for having this type of a platform. Not only sharing your own story, but also other people’s story and taking the time to really try to educate people that are on the road of trying to develop something becoming an entrepreneur and getting real stories for peep from people that could help them as well. So thank you so much for what you’re doing. Oh,

Kara Goldin 29:21
thank you. Appreciate that. Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review and feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. I would love to hear from you too, so feel free to DM me. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my Wall Street Journal, best selling book undaunted, where I share more about my journey. Ernie including founding and building hint we are here every monday wednesday and friday thanks for listening and good bye for now