Med School Money, doTERRA Earth Day, Gabb $14MM Funding, and More (The Week-in-Review, April 17—23, 2021)

Utah’s top business news this week: Provo-based med school raises $135 million in bond funding; doTERRA makes a difference for the planet; Gabb Wireless lands $14MM Series A Funding; and more.

Did you know there’s a med school in Provo? Well, almost.

But starting August 2021, the inaugural academic year for the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine will kickoff with 90 incoming medical school students, each targeted at becoming DO’s (aka, Doctors of Osteopathy).

This past week Noorda-COM announced it has landed $135.9 million in bond funding to help build out its campus and fund its developmental efforts in order to be ready for its launch late this August. This is on top of a prior funding of nearly $43 million in a Public Infrastructure District bond.

In the news release this week announcing the most recent funding, Dr. John Dougherty (founding dean and chief academic officer) said

“This funding will provide Noorda-COM with greater opportunities to fulfill our mission in creating a transformational medical education model. Noorda-COM students will obtain the highest quality medical education within a campus environment ideal for our unique student centric curricular model integrating technology and directed personal guidance.”

In late December, Provo-based Noorda-COM announced it was granted Pre-Accreditation Status by the American Osteopathic Association’sCommission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). This move allowed Noorda-COM to begin the process of winnowing down some 2,000 applicants to the inaugural class of 90 incoming students.

In case you’re not familiar with the distinction between MDs and DOs, I really like this brief overview from Healthline:

“The differences between MDs and DOs are often subtle. MDs generally focus on treating specific conditions with medication. DOs, on the other hand, tend to focus on whole-body healing, with or without traditional medication.”

Additionally, I also like this short video from Dr. John in that it helps explain the purpose and goal behind Noorda-COM:

Bottom line, congrats to the extended Noorda family, Dr. John and the entire Noorda-COM team.


doTERRA Does Earth Day Right

The numbers are quite impressive:

  • 10 million plants planted in Kenya from 2017 to 2020, with

  • Another 20 million plants slated for planting in the African nation in the next five years; plus

  • 130,000 new trees planted in the past two years on the Island of Hawaii, with

  • 100,000 new trees slated to be planted on the Big Island in 2021.

When I think about doTERRA, the first thing I think of is this is a very successful Essential Oils network marketing company headquartered in American Fork, Utah.

However, before this week, it’s never occurred to me that doTERRA might be an environmentally friendly company, a true leader in sustainability. And yet that’s exactly what doTERRA has become.

Through its news release yesterday, Earth Day (by the way), doTERRA shared info on just a few of its efforts to support and show its commitment to the environment, conservation, and restoration.

Case in point, doTERRA has partnered with the state of Hawaii to create the largest reforestation project in the island state known as the Kealakekua Mountain Reserve (KMR).

The KMR covers some 9,000 acres of land on the Big Island, and its primary focus is to reestablish a healthy forest of sandalwood trees. This makes tons of sense since sandalwood is one of the Essential Oils products that doTERRA sells.

In fact, doTERRA describes its Hawaiian Sandalwood Essential Oil as having

“ … a rich, sweet, woody aroma that instills calmness and well-being, making it a perfect oil to incorporate into massage or aromatherapy.”

Honestly, I’ve been pretty turned-off of late with so many corporations claiming to be pro-environment-this or social-consciousness-that.

But I’ve got to hand it to the team at doTERRA as they really seem to be walking the walk, and not just talking the talk.


Gabb Wireless Lands $14 Million Series A Funding to Make Telecom Safe for Kids

Launched in early 2019 through a crowdfunding campaign, Gabb Wireless is now on track to have

  • Over 200,000 customers by the end of 2021, with

  • Annual recurring revenue of $50 million before January rolls around.

Such impressive success led local investment firm, Sandlot Partners, to pull together a $14 million Series A round of funding for Gabb.

According to Sandlot’s Managing Partner, Dave Jensen, the reason for the investment was because of the opportunity to address a $30 billion market for safe mobile phones for kids, plus the fact that Gabb

“… is providing solutions to address the extremely important screen time addiction problem in our society.”

In chatting earlier today with Dave and Gabb Founder and CEO, Stephen Dalby, Steve explained that his goal is quite simple:

“Safe tech for kids.”

Hence, Gabb mobile phones have no Internet connectivity, no app store, no computer games, just phone calls and texting. That’s it.

In addition, there are no long-term contracts to sign, just month-to-month plans that start at $19.99 per month. {Wow! We could’ve used that in our family.}

Today Gabb phones ship with 14 “essential apps” — that’s all.

Steve says that he’s tried to be “Very intentional from the beginning (with Gabb).” Hence the focus on just one thing: safe wireless phones for kids (with other wireless devices coming in the near future).

Bottom line, sounds like a great investment in what could become another “Financial Unicorn” in the State of Deseret. So kudos to Team Gabb and the Sandlot investors.

P.S.  BTW: New Orleans Saints quarterback and former BYU QB, Taysom Hill, also participated in the Series A funding of Gabb. Interesting.


Nu Skin Hires “Big Hitter” as EVP and Chief Global Growth & Customer Experience Officer

Unless you’re a woman who works in the direct sales, jewelry or cosmetics industries, chances are you’ve not have heard of Connie Tang before. (And I was in a similar boat).

But when a multibillion-dollar company like Provo-based Nu Skin announces it’s named someone to be an Executive Vice President, let alone a Chief Global “anything” (Chief Global Growth & Customer Experience Officer to be exact), let’s just say that kind of announcement snags my attention.

During a career that spans over three decades, Connie has held such executive positions as

  • President & CEO of Princess House (2012—2019)

  • Executive Chairwoman of Chloe + Isabell (2018—2019)

  • President, USA of JAFRA Cosmetics International (2008—2012)

  • Vice President (two times) for BeautiControl (2002—2008)

If I read the news release correctly, Connie will essentially touch (or have responsibility for) every single Nu Skin product, program, or distributor effort around the globe — seriously. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal!

Welcome aboard, Connie. I look forward to seeing your impact on Nu Skin, both here in Utah and worldwide.


Other News Items of Note from This Week

What follows below are four additional Noteworthy News Items taken from the breaking news announcements that hit our radar this past week from Utah’s business community, news items we thought you might find worthwhile if not also intriguing.

Case in point —


Utah Smashes WalletHub’s Latest Ranking of Top Small Cities for Entrepreneurism

How good is it?

  • 4 out of the Top 5,

  • 7 out of the Top 10,

  • 9 out of the Top 20, and

  • 14 out of the Top 30.

That’s how Utah fared in WalletHub’s latest ranking of the top small cities in the United States for starting a new business.

For context, WalletHub looked at 1,300 small-sized U.S. cities and examined data across 20 different criterion.

I don’t know about you, but those figures are absolutely INSANE and totally confirm the entrepreneurial drive, vigor, and support found here in the State of Deseret.

BTW: St. George came in 1st place; Cedar City in 2nd place; Washington City came in 4th place; and Logan came in 5th place.

Wow! Just wow.


Grōv Technologies is at it Again

Grōv Technologies announced this week that it has entered into a “definitive agreement” with a 10,000-animal dairy ranch near Tulare, California to build an indoor feed center using Grōv’s Olympus Tower Farm platform. It appears from the release that the agreement only covers one such indoor feed tower, which normally would not warrant a mention here. Except that Tulare is home to the largest agricultural trade show in the U.S. (World Ag Expo), with over 100,000 attendees in 2020 (pre-Covid pandemic).

According to Grōv’s announcement, Tulare is also located smack-dab in the middle of the most concentrated milk production area in the U.S., with over 1.3 million dairy cows situated within a five-county region. So in this regard, one installed Olympus Tower Farm platform could, in fact, actually be a big marketing and sales tool for Grōv. So … we’ll see.


Podium Expands Footprint in Patient Communications

Lehi-based Podium announced this week a partnership with Ochsner Health, a major healthcare provider headquartered in Louisiana that is similar in size and impact to Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare. Through the partnership, Podium will help Ochsnerenhance the online review and feedback experience for patients,” which is cool, because Podium currently works with over 90,000 businesses to help them with their customer interactions.

FYI:  This week’s press release dropped just three weeks after Podium announced a similar partnership with San Diego, California-based Sharp HealthCare.


The Malouf Foundation’s Human Trafficking Summit

Last of all, in case you missed it, the Malouf Foundation held its inaugural Human Trafficking Policy and Education Summit at Utah State University a week ago today.

Formed in 2016 as a standalone 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on fighting child slavery and trafficking, the Malouf Foundation was the brainchild of Sam and Kacie Malouf, co-founders of the eponymous bedding company in Logan, Utah. And based upon the news release alone, the Summit looks like it was amazing. Among the speakers/presenters were

  1. Robert C. O’Brien, National Security Advisor

  2. Heather Fischer, former White House Czar and special advisor for human trafficking

  3. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

  4. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT)

  5. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)

  6. Rep. John Curtis (R-UT)

  7. Elizabeth Smart, founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation

  8. Deondra Brown, member of the Five Browns and founder of Foundation for Survivors of Abuse

  9. Ambassador John Cotton Richmond from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

  10. Sam Malouf, co-founder of Malouf and the Malouf Foundation

  11. David Stirling, co-founder and CEO of doTERRA and the Healing Hands Foundation

  12. Steve Young, co-founder of the Forever Young Foundation

Sounds like it was an amazing event focused on a very troubling problem. Thank you, Malouf Foundation for your efforts.

In closing, if you’re interested, the Foundation has shared a six-hour-long video of the entire Summit on YouTube, which you can watch below.


ICYMI: What are the Top Sports Businesses in the State?

Consider this a postscript, but on Wednesday I published my take on the sports industry in Utah with an article titled — The Top 10 Sports Businesses in Utah.

So if you haven’t read this yet, I invite you to check it.

And if you like it, I hope you’ll feel free to share it with your friends/fellow fanatics. Thanks.

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Hashtags this week:  #deseret #business #deseretbusinesswatch #utah #news #utahnews #utahbusiness #utahbusinessnews #medschool #osteopathy #earthday #earthday2021 #environment #ecology #sustainable #sustainability #restore #reforestation #sandalwood


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About the Author

David Politis is a Marketing Mercenary, which is a fancy way of saying that organizations and individuals hire him to solve their marketing problems. To learn more, please feel free to visit David’s LinkedIn Profile or the website for his business: The David Politis Company. If you have a story idea for him (or would just like to connect), you can reach him at me@davidpolitis.com


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