Helmed by Blake Johnson and Scott Cohen, byte Uses 3D Printing to Deliver Face Shields and Parts
By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Longtime Palisadians Blake Johnson and Scott Cohen are business partners, good friends and co-founders of byte—who are now using their time and company to give back to frontline workers.
Best friends since college, Cohen and Johnson both attended the University of Arizona in Tucson.
After moving to the Palisades more than a decade ago—Cohen in 2008 and Johnson in 2009—the pair have found themselves both married with children. Cohen was the best man at Johnson’s wedding.
Johnson, who lives in The Huntington, has two children at Calvary Christian School, while Alphabet Streets resident Cohen has two children attending Village School. And as part of byte, they’re sponsors of Pacific Palisades Baseball Association.
Cohen was raised in Washington, D.C., and Johnson grew up in El Centro and beginning in eighth grade, attended The Webb Schools in Claremont.
“It changed the trajectory of my life big time,” Johnson said to the Palisadian-Post about his time at the school. “I got a lot of exposure to things.”
Both men—self-proclaimed serial entrepreneurs for over 20 years—began collaborating for the first time in 2017 with their company, byte.
Cohen explained that byte, a direct-to-consumer teeth aligner company, offers smile adjustments through a teledentistry platform. Orthodontists review impressions and create a treatment plan, which is explained via a 3D model and achieved through custom aligners.
It “produces great smiles,” Johnson added.
The duo created byte from their Palisades residences, and as the company grew, they chose Santa Monica as the base for the company’s headquarters.
Several Palisadians are part of the leadership team, including Dr. Jon Marashi, chief dental officer, Ian Wade, legal counsel, Amy Carter, head of talent and culture, Wesley Lones, head of operations, and Abhilash Patel, advisor.
They brought on Palisadian and Village School parent Neeraj Gunsagar as president.
The spotlight on byte recently grew even brighter when the company switched gears to create and deliver personal protective equipment to frontline and essential workers.
“What we did was we took the 150 3D printers we had to make custom ventilator parts that were in short supply for healthcare providers across the country, and medical face shields and masks for the healthcare workers and the first responders that needed it the most on the frontlines,” Cohen explained.
“During this unprecedented time, we want to do everything we can, in whatever way possible, to step up and contribute.”
Cohen added that every day there is talk of medical supply shortages that span the country, which are hindering medical professionals from doing their jobs.
“We hope this initiative will alleviate some of these shortages,” he continued.
Since they couldn’t keep up with the demand, the company shared its design with other 3D printing companies in an effort to encourage both the private sector and Fortune 500 companies to help make face shields.
Johnson explained that byte discovered a solution that allowed the shields to swap out a component after usage, which allows the shield to be re-usable and not require a lengthy sanitation process before reusing a shield.
“We got a lot of requests for premium reusable shields that byte developed,” Cohen added, “and we didn’t want to forget the people in the Palisades.”
Johnson and Cohen donated face shields to local bus drivers, grocery clerks at the Palisades Erewhon and Ralphs, and other essential workers.
“They were very thankful and jumped on it,” Cohen said.
They also donated shields to Los Angeles Fire Department Stations 23 and 69 in the Palisades.
“We had the good fortune to give back,” Cohen said.
Byte opened its teledentistry platform throughout the entire nation for anyone who needs assistance for free. It is doing this through its giving arm, byteCares, and via its network of more than 160 licensed dentists and orthodontists nationwide that support the country in a virtual environment.
These consultations include phone calls and using their teledentistry digital video diagnostics to support those in need. ByteCares has a goal of giving 10,000 people “a smile of their own for those that can’t otherwise access” treatment by 2022.
Byte is offering consultations with Chief Dental Officer Marashi, who is fielding hundreds of requests per day, along with other members of their network. Marashi, an Alphabet Streets resident, is also doing a series of ongoing Instagram live streams.
“Anybody at all can come to us,” Johnson explained to the Post.
Since brick-and-mortar dental offices are temporarily closed for non-emergency work, including Marashi’s office, Johnson said that some people have had dental questions that have gone unanswered.
“We said that if you can’t reach them, we will provide our dental network to you to answer any questions,” Johnson said.
Recently on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Kerry Washington announced her partnership with byte and support of teledentistry.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, with offices around the country, byte’s rapid growth and the additional work it is taking on, the company continues to hire at a fast rate and is aiming to bring more jobs to Los Angeles.
“We continue to support our local community,” Cohen said. “The brand continues to grow and we continue to give back.”
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