Dr Zayba Sheikh is the founder and CEO of Rüh Dental, one of the UK’s fastest-growing private dental groups. With three clinics across the UK, Rüh is the dental practice favoured by the stars and other high-net-worth individuals
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I am a 34-year-old mother of three children and CEO of Rüh Dental.
I graduated from the University of Birmingham Dental School in 2016 and quickly became CEO of a group of prestigious dental practices thereafter. I took two of the practices on as my own when I turned 28, thus founding Rüh Dental. I opened a third site in Manchester in 2018 and am set to open my fourth in Liverpool later on this year.
Aside from my clinical exploits, I sit on the board of Sheikh Holdings family office as a principal investor and have been pivotal in developing its healthcare division.
I’m also a Trustee of the Cosaraf Charitable Foundation and have always believed in giving and helping others. Through combining my clinical acumen and charitable values, I’m hoping to launch the Rüh Dental Foundation to support charities across the globe.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
From working in NHS dentistry and in University Dentistry, I felt there was something missing in the UK. My parents live in Dubai and international dentistry is completely different. You see businesses investing and achieving dream outcomes internationally. Whereas the UK completely lacked luxury dentistry, I felt like it was behind in that respect over here. Not only are we a dental service, but we are also a hospitality service too, giving that extra element of care and luxury. NHS dentistry unfortunately is often viewed as drill and fill. But there is so much more to dental care. Even with private dentistry, it doesn’t necessarily feel luxurious. It should go beyond a healthcare service people pay for – they want to feel cared for too. A pleasant experience for patients is as vital as high-quality dental care, we want people to look forward to their appointment. The fluffy stuff is important!
How did you achieve awareness?
Awareness came from social media, Instagram mainly. We were one of the first to utilise this tool. And our award-winning clinicians were hugely important, helping to cause attraction and awareness. Some people weren’t aware of all the treatments dentistry can offer either. Now there is massive awareness.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
It’s funding from a personal perspective, Sheikh Holdings Group and a private equity company that backed us after our vision was sold to them. Plus, partnerships with invested dentists that work with us.
What are the key successes?
The team I’ve grown. They are unique to Ruh. We operate fundamentally from a business-led strategy whereas most are business led. Quality of clinicians and the quality of care and delivery are key to success too – without that you don’t have a service. The marketing is so important as well, we are hot on the way we market and the use of technology. We operate slick on technology. The latest tech is key, while some companies are still using a Nokia – we’re on the latest iPhone!
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
There are loads, in terms of normal business challenges. From people and staffing to everyday challenges. Getting the right people on board to understand the vision is so important. Grafting it. Our business was born and has gone through Covid, lockdown and financial uncertainty. We’ve seen four different Prime Ministers!
What are your plans now/for the future?
Our plans are to grow internally and optimise the workflows. We have already got the core business right. Now, we want to grow in the UK, open more sites. And hopefully internationally too.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I’d encourage people to pursue what makes them happy. If your passion is in business and you determined on setting up your own thing, then you should do it. Pursue whatever is your strength and whatever makes you happy. If you love what you do, you are more likely to succeed.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Don’t give up, keeping looking forward. It’s going to be hard; be prepared for challenges. Don’t feel like you can control everything because you can’t. Take it steadily, a step at a time. Crucially, hire the right team, team is the most important. Don’t hire friends, don’t hire people you hope to change, hire people that are skilled and there to add value. And don’t have an ego about it.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
My dad and uncle inspire me the most. They grew a business starting from nothing.
I would say family ultimately inspire me the most. They become your strongest role models.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Life taught me that the thing you want to do, but you’re scared to do because of people’s opinions, is also the thing you must do. Everything that I’m most proud of started with fear and ended with happiness.”
– Steven Bartlett, Entrepreneur.
“When we are able to recognise our own light, we become empowered to use it.”
– Michelle Obama.