Education And A Tech Workforce Need Collaboration To Thrive

“As a tech company I can think of no better way to help ensure a strong workforce for the future than being a mentor in Utah classrooms.”

This article appears in the Fall 2017 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine. For the print version, subscribe to Utah Business Magazine and you will automatically be sent a quarterly copy of Silicon Slopes Magazine.

“Within Utah we have this booming tech industry,” says Kellie Yates, STEM Liaison between the STEM Action Center and the USOE (Utah State Office of Education). “But we don’t have a workforce that’s comfortable with STEM to fill all of these jobs. Companies are now having to go to other states and countries to find talent to fill these jobs.”

Yates’ statement reflects the feelings of most of Utah’s tech industry leaders, many of whom sit on the STEM Action Center board and help Yates and her colleagues identify the needs of the tech industry workforce. The board also helps identify what current education curriculum lacks in filling those needs.

After identification, the STEM Action Center and industry partners work to implement educational practices that will help Utah’s rising generation to not only receive a robust education, but eventually obtain satisfying and well-paying jobs in Utah’s thriving tech industry.

Yates explains that when people talk of jobs in the tech industry, they aren’t just talking jobs for coders. Nearly any position within a Utah-based company requires at the very least a basic understanding of STEM skills. And implementing the needed educational practices does not mean teaching kids to code all day every day. Teaching tech does not mean teaching a niche trade, but instead means teaching a way of thinking. As Domo Vice President of Human Resources Cathy Donahoe says, “Tech is all about executing ideas and what it takes to drive an idea through to a business.”

Yates explains that teaching STEM concepts goes beyond just teaching kids a trade or skill. True STEM mastery means an understanding of why a skill works. “If we’re just giving students an idea without a context to study it within, then it’s just a nice idea. But if we just teach the skills, all we’ve taught them is how to solve a problem with a very limited range. We haven’t taught them how to apply those skills in the real world. If we teach students only a specific set of skills we’re really limiting their capabilities. If we give them ideas, they can transfer those skills to other arenas.”

Many of these ideas and skills focus on problem solving and allowing students to come up with solutions to problems that haven’t been tried before. “We want kids to be able to work cooperatively and work in groups well. We want them to learn how to persevere, take a risk, have something not work, learn from that experience, and not get discouraged,” Yates says. “We want them to develop and capitalize on skills like creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.” These are the skills that will help students excel in any workplace.

In terms of more defined content skills, Yates says every student needs a solid math background and a familiarity with how quantities work. Yates explains that recent changes in math and science curriculum are getting students to do more instead of just know more. “They need to know how to reason through the information they’re receiving and then take it from there,” she says.

Change, however, is slow and resources in education are far from abundant. “There’s a disconnect between what we want our students to be able to do and what we are able to offer our teachers,” Yates explains. “Teachers don’t necessarily have the time or skills to take whatever ideas and implement them right away. We’ve definitely made good strides, but we’re not even close to done yet.”

We can get closer by helping teachers. Yates encourages tech community members to volunteer to mentor teachers. She explains that when she was a teacher, she didn’t want to expose any ignorance, but that technology changes so quickly she wasn’t immersed enough to fully understand what students needed to learn to master the ever-evolving tech. “It’s terrifying to go to someone in an industry and acknowledge that you don’t have enough information,” she says. “Be willing to take on a teacher as someone you mentor. Get into a classroom and get a better understanding of what teachers are doing so you can better support your education community.”

Sandra Hemmert, Granite Technical Institute District CTE Coordinator, says her organization offers summer internships to teachers so they can actually spend time in fields whose subjects they will be teaching. The institute also invites industry professionals to guest teach in classrooms. “The biggest conflict is when you don’t take time to let a teacher feel successful,” Hemmert says.

Hemmert advises industry leaders to go to their local school districts, find the career and technical director in those districts, and ask to get involved. “A lot of what we’re doing is trying to get industry to come to us. We need industry setting the stage and target for what they need. If you’re not coming in, you might be in trouble,” Hemmert says. “In the past, educators have defined what the needed skills are, but now it’s important for industry leaders to come to the table and help identify the skills they need in their workforce.”

In addition to helping teachers with time and mentorship, and helping districts identify curriculum needs, we can help students understand what working in the tech industry actually means and why that ambition is something to get excited about, then develop streamlined methods to help them succeed. “Unless students already have direct work experience, it can be hard for them to envision what a career in any given industry might look like,” says Kimberlee Carlile, Director of Industry and Talent Initiatives at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “Our goal is to increase awareness among students so they know what options they can pursue. Work-based learning and hands-on education programs are by far the best way to expose students to exciting career opportunities.”

Carlile knows hands-on education programs are the best way to expose students to exciting career opportunities because she’s seen it work in our state before. “Utah businesses in aerospace manufacturing, diesel tech, and life science have led the way in creating innovative work-based learning programs that connect high school students and adult learners with education pathways to quality, high-paying jobs. These career pathways programs are celebrated as best practices. Now software and technology companies are stepping up to solve their unique workforce challenges while inspiring the next generation of IT professionals.”

Volunteering time, resources, and know-how benefits not only teachers and students, but the entire tech community as well. “Not only is helping young kids in school with their STEM education the right thing to do, today’s prospective employees want to work for companies who give back to the community in meaningful ways,” explains Dell EMC Executive and STEM education advocate Vance Checketts. “We all have friends, neighbors or family members who benefit when we give back and many of them are connected to our current and prospective employees. As a tech company I can think of no better way to help ensure a strong workforce for the future than being a mentor in Utah classrooms.”

Checketts adds that getting involved helps not only the future workforce but the current workforce as well. “Our Dell EMC Utah team loves to help students in elementary, middle and high school. Sharing information about the plentiful, exciting and diverse jobs in our company and our industry is motivating to the kids as well as team members. They come back to work more engaged and satisfied,” he says. “Our team members feel valued when we ask them to represent the company. Doing this while also giving back through educational partnerships in our local school districts is icing on the cake!”

The more the tech industry gets involved in education, the more the future of Silicon Slopes is secure. “We’re really help kids develop skills that will help them be successful when they leave school. I’ve never seen a time like right now. I think it’s really exciting,” says Sandra Hemmert.

The launch of the STEM Mentor Exchange, and Governor Herbert’s recent IT Pathways announcement add to that excitement, but we need the industry’s support. Share in the excitement and call your district. Or download the STEM Mentor Exchange app. Or ask your kids’ teachers what they wish they had in their classrooms and how you can help — it’s time to prepare Utah’s future workforce for tomorrow.

People Helping Puerto Rico Auction Begins On December 2

Because Puerto Rico still needs help.

Weeks ago the media stopped really covering Puerto Rico and the devastation Hurricane Maria left on the island. In what feels like a never-ending stream of shocking headlines, news of Puerto Rico has been overshadowed by more recent events. But while our attention may have shifted to other issues, Puerto Rico is still suffering and still needs our help.

Most of the island remains without power or clean water. “Running water that may be available to some of the island is contaminated and needs to be boiled but they have no working stoves or resources to do so. Going to the bathroom without running water is the reality the island has been dealing with since September,” explains Nichelle Jensen, co-founder of People Helping Puerto Rico. “Only a small percentage of the hospitals on the island are operating and those hospitals are operating only at a fraction of their normal capacity. This means most people aren’t receiving basic healthcare like something as simple as an asthma inhaler. Makeshift medical clinics in school gymnasiums and churches are currently serving the majority of the medical needs for the island. Most people are living without roofs which makes most homes breeding grounds for mold, if they are not already covered in mold. Puerto Rico is hot, humid, and covered in mosquitos, many children and elderly folks aren’t healthy enough to handle the combination of the heat, lack of water, and lack of shelter for such a long period of time. Even for some citizens who may have power restored, their refrigerators are now covered in mold and their stoves were destroyed by the storm. An average cost for a new roof is about $3,000 and with a large percentage of businesses not in operation, people are without work and without funds to put another roof on their home or buy a new stove.”

Co-founder Ryan Smart adds, “In other areas[affected by disaster], people are connected by land, so you can drive in resources, neighbors can come help rebuild — not on an island, especially on an island that has not had basic needs met for a long time. These people are suffering. Puerto Rico is in an even worse state than it was the days of the storm .”

Jensen and Smart wanted to help alleviate some of Puerto Rico’s pain so they reached out to the Vivint Gives Back initiative, whose leaders have served as invaluable mentors, and partnered with the nonprofit Wings of Hope. They created the Instagram account People Helping PR, and started asking businesses and individuals to donate goods and services to be auctioned. “These items range from something as simple as a baked good all the way up to a week’s stay at a VRBO in Hawaii — if you’re lucky you can bid on both and be eating a chocolate cream pie on the beaches of Oahu,” Smart says. “We post the good and service and ask the donor along with all our friends and businesses to share the cause on their feeds.” All donated items will be available for bidding Saturday, December 2 at 8 pm (PST), and the auction will close Sunday, December 3 at 8 pm (PST). The highest bidder on each post will win the item, and their donation will go directly to the people of Puerto Rico.

The list of items is both long and impressive, and all donated by people who just want to help. “People are good — that’s what we’ve found,” Smart says. “The majority of people are so willing to help however they can, most just don’t know how. People may not be able to donate a lot of money or go and physically help, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing. All people have talents and this lets up tap into that, allow them to do good, and use that talent to help so many others. It’s also contagious, when people see others jumping in to help, they don’t want to miss out either. It’s a great way to join people together, create a mini community and also show off people’s talents — so many side benefits on being a part of one of these auctions.” Jensen adds, “Making people see that there is a lot of value to be had from any size effort has created a domino effect and more donations keep rolling in.”

Jensen and Smart hope to raise enough from the auction to see roofs go on houses and see food, water, and medical supplies reach the Puerto Ricans that need them. “We’d like to help as many people as we possibly can,” Jensen says.

Remember, the auction begins SATURDAY at 8 PM (PST), and can be found at @peoplehelpingpr on Instagram. Your winning bids will help People Helping Puerto Rico live up to its name.

Amy Rees Anderson Thinks You’re Capable Of More Than You Think

“Get up, do something, do anything, just make a start.”

Photo Courtesy of Deseret News

On the evening of November 10, REES Capital Managing Partner Amy Rees Anderson will be inducted to the UTC Hall of Fame alongside Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard and Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne.

At age 17, Anderson arrived in Utah as a BYU freshman. Armed with her first checkbook, she quickly bounced enough checks to compel her dad to catch a flight to Salt Lake City and explain to his daughter how bank accounts work. “If I can go from being that girl who couldn’t balance a checkbook to selling a company for just under $400,000, 000, that’s a testament that anyone can do it,” Anderson says.

Anderson sold MediConnect, one of the largest cloud-based health information exchanges, to Verisk Analytics for over $377 million, then founded REES Capital and the IPOP Foundation, where Anderson currently works to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Prior to MediConnect, Anderson founded a healthcare technology company when she was just 23. “I decided to start my own company because I thought it would give me freedom,” she says as she chuckles. She explains that as a single mother she wanted to provide for her two kids and have some flexibility in her schedule. While the flexibility wasn’t quite as flexible as she had hoped, she learned she had a refined acumen for business and enjoyed running her own. She later went on to found MediConnect Global in 2006. She sold MediConnect Global in 2012 and started REES Capital and the IPOP Foundation that same year.

“You’re capable of a lot more than you think you are,” Anderson says. “The most important thing is to start and try.” She remembers the advice of her grandfather who told her, “Get up, do something, do anything, just make a start.” Then she offers advice of her own. “You can’t be afraid to fail. You only fail if you don’t try. If you try something and it doesn’t work, don’t ever look at it as a failure. But don’t make the same mistake twice.”

When asked what other words of wisdom Anderson has for young entrepreneurs like those she mentors through IPOP and REES Capital, she answers, “Don’t compromise your integrity. It’s the most valuable asset you have.” She explains that young people may not recognize that there’s a dollar value on integrity, but should understands that clients appreciate businesses with a reputation for acting with integrity.

She also encourages leaders to set and stick to their company values, and to apologize immediately should they violate any of those values. She recalls a time when she apologized to each of her employees after she hesitated to remove an employee who had failed to treat others with respect. “We all make mistakes and are learning as we go. Being CEO doesn’t make you a perfect person,” she says. Anderson also expresses the importance of connecting with employees, especially when your team scales quickly. “If you don’t communicate for yourself, other people will communicate for you. In the end it’s really about communicating.” While running MediConnect Global, Anderson wrote daily blogs for her employees. “I found that the more authentic you are, the more [your employees] will get behind you and support you.”

Amy Rees Anderson contributes weekly to Forbes and the Huffington Post and serves on the boards of a number of organizations. She has been the recipient of Utah Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year Award, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, is the first ever woman to be named BYU’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and is now a UTC Hall of Fame inductee. “Amy’s unceasing pursuit of the vision for her company and her life is the example of transformation that the Utah Technology Council seeks to recognize through induction in our Hall of Fame,” says UTC CEO John Knotwell. “From the literal kitchen table to a multi-hundred million dollar exit, Amy demonstrated fortitude, perseverance and grit — the values that have made the Utah Tech community successful.” Of being inducted Anderson says, “It’s humbling and obviously an honor. I want to make sure I continue to give back.”

Girls Code

They code some really cool stuff, to be precise.

Last week I sat in on the closing ceremonies of InsideSales’ Girls Code. It’s a coding camp for daughters and grand daughters of InsideSales employees. And I’ve gotta be honest, I wish I was the daughter of one of those employees so I could attend this camp.

The girls of Girls Code learned to build actual applications that work. One attendee told me she built a voice controlled app that sends emojis, an app that I both want and need. Another spoke of a game she created, and still another said she created a digital cello.

I spoke with the director of curriculum Angela Jones and asked why this program is so loved by it’s attendees: “It brings the girls together to try out coding in a very safe environment.” Jones explains that learning to code can help girls in nearly every aspect of their lives. “The ability to think computationally is really important for the future. It helps with math, science, and writing.”

Tema Hunkin Laussen, Executive Director of the Do Good Foundation says, “Every girl needs this camp. Every child should learn how to code.” Laussen heard one of the program participants say that prior to the camp she wanted to be an eye doctor, but now hopes to be a coder. “We need to close the gender gap in this industry. The state of Utah needs a pipeline.”

Inside Sales founder and CEO David Elkington told the girls, “Girls are better at coding than boys.” He encouraged the girls to keep coding, keep programming, and come to Girls Code again next year. “Let’s make sure by the time you’re in high school you’re still coders,” he added.

Girls Code exists because InsideSales employees volunteer to spend time providing the girls with a coding education. Laussen encourages all companies in the state to follow a similar patterns of volunteer work and get involved in the Do Good Foundation. “If every company donated 1% of time, revenue, and product to any cause, Utah would be in a much better place.”

The World’s Largest 3-D Color Printing Company Is WhiteClouds And It Resides In Ogden, UT

“We’re taking manufacturing to the future.”

WhiteClouds founder Jerry Ropelato had a medical condition and was told it might be cancer. He wanted to have a better understanding — and visual — of what he was up against. He knew the data and and technology already existed to make an actual model of his condition, he just needed to marry the two together. “That’s really what drove him to found WhiteClouds,” Says Braden Ellis, WhiteClouds Chief Revenue Officer.

Since then WhiteClouds has become the largest full color 3D printing company in the world and has raised $900,000+ on wefunder toward their $1,000,000 goal.

“We provide an infrastructure as a service,” Ellis says. “The demand on the market place for personalized goods is exploding.” He explains that it doesn’t make sense for most companies to build their own 3D printing facilities, since the technology is too expensive and too unreliable. “We’ve made the investment and we have all the technology to mass market immediately,” he says.

So far WhiteClouds has had the biggest impact in the medical space. Using WhiteClouds’ 3D printing services, surgeons can visualize exactly what they’ll be seeing in surgery and increase patient confidence. Dr. Quigley explains it far better than I ever could:

As can Ella’s parents :

“In healthcare alone, there’s huge potential. Our services change people’s lives,” Ellis says.

WhiteClouds has also made a splash in the architectural space with their ability to print models of homes before they are built. “It helps people know exactly what they want in the largest purchase of their life,” Ellis says.

In order to provide clients the reliability 3D printing has historically lacked, WhiteClouds printed thousands of objects to learn how to improve and perfect the process.

“We are a manufacturing company,” Ellis says. “We’re taking manufacturing to the future.”

And they’re doing it in a place they love, Ogden, Utah. “The startup scene in Ogden is pretty exciting,” Ellis says. “We love being part of the Utah tech scene.”

eLearning Brothers

“eLearning Brothers is in the business of making eLearning Rockstars.”

Let’s say someone came to you today and said, “I need you to create an eLearning course.” The reasons why this person is telling you to do this are not important. Don’t get so hung up on the details. It’s just a hypothetical. Jeesh. Anyway, where would you even start? You don’t know, do you? It’s okay. I wouldn’t know either. If I had, like, a year, I could maybe pull something together, but it wouldn’t be great and it would certainly be ugly. And who has a year? Not you. You need to create this course soon. I know. It’s too much to ask. I understand if you need to take a minute to cry under your desk, even if this is just a hypothetical.

Okay, crying time is up. Get out from under your desk, and get ready, because I have some great news: eLearning Brothers can help you create your eLearning course quickly, and at a significantly higher level of quality than if you were left to your own devices (no offense).

“eLearning Brothers is in the business of making eLearning Rockstars,” says eLearning Brothers President/Chief Growth Officer and owner Curtis J. Morley. “We make Rockstars by empowering eLearning Developers with the planet’s largest library of eLearning assets.”

These assets include templates, games, cut-out people, layouts, scenarios, course-starters, Powerpoint, stock photos, video, audio, and medical assets. “eLearning developers can insert their content into our templates and build courses and trainings in a fraction of the time with a much higher level of design and interactivity,” Morley explains. Or, eLearning Brothers can create custom courses from the ground up if needs be. Morley says, “We have created everything from high-level cyber security courses for NASA, to distributor training for Amway, to software simulations for Adobe, and fun courses for Coca-Cola. With eLearning Brothers, companies get award winning courses that are truly effective.”

The company began in 2009, after brothers Shawn and Andrew Scivally both experienced frustration in the eLearning industry. They both created templates for their teams, and they both wished for an external source that could provide templates. So they created one. “Before eLearning Brothers there was no solution for eLearning Templates. We kind of invented the eLearning Template space,” Morley says.

Since 2009 eLearning Brothers has grown to serve over 200,000 clients on every continent, including 95 of the companies of the Fortune 100. They have also received a number of awards.

“If we focus on helping our clients then we will continue to grow at a crazy pace,” Morley says. “We want to prevent sucky eLearning by creating an army of eLearning Rockstars across the globe.”

CHG Healthcare Cares

“We believe that simple actions can spark positive reactions for change and that our people play an essential role in making a difference in the world each day.”

In 1979, a physician at the University of Utah developed temporary healthcare staffing. He helped place healthcare professionals in the historically underserved areas of the rural southwest. CHG Healthcare has since grown into a thriving business that places physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical and occupational therapists in hospitals and clinics across the country.

Headquartered in Midvale, the company employs more than 2,500 people in eight offices across the country, including Utah, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Last year CHG, through its brands CompHealth, Weatherby Healthcare, RNnetwork, Foundation Medical Staffing and Global Medical Staffing, placed over 12,000 medical providers. Those providers served 25 million patients. “We’re still passionate about helping facilities — especially in rural areas — find the right healthcare provider,” says CEO Scott Beck.

The company is also passionate about its culture. “We’ve found that when you create an atmosphere of respect, caring, trust and fun — and really allow people to be themselves — people will bring their best selves to work every day and will take care of our customers and each other,” Beck says. He explains that it’s putting people first that sets CHG apart from other companies in the industry. Beck says, “We’re in the relationship business. Our customers need to know that they can trust us and can trust our providers with their patients.”

But, Beck explains, culture hasn’t always been the company’s strength. In 2001 their turnover rate was nearly 50 percent, which was expensive and led to a lot of lost productivity. “We realized that for us to succeed, we’d need to create a culture where employees could grow their careers and find purpose in their work,” Beck says. “We started by defining our company’s core beliefs — continuous improvement, integrity, quality, growth, and putting people first — and then committed to creating a culture that embodied these values.”

CHG now has a turnover rate of just 14.5 percent and an employee engagement rate of 90 percent, as well as the highest revenue in the history of the company. The change is so remarkable, one might even call it award winning. Fortune magazine named CHG one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For each of the past eight years. The company has been recognized as one of the best staffing firms to work for by Staffing Industry Analysts. And they’ve been recognized by People magazine as one of its 50 Companies that Care for its commitment to making a difference.

“Our goal is to continue to create a highly engaging culture that empowers our people to make a difference to each other, our communities and our customers,” Beck says. “This will help us to continue to attract top talent who will bring diverse thoughts and skills that will enhance our culture and help us continue to be a leader in the industry.”

“We’re also focusing on continuing to provide our customers with the best experience possible, tailored to their individual needs. We want to make sure we are making it easier for our customers to work with CHG than any other staffing company by improving our processes, our relationships, and the technology that enhances the experience.”

EY Finalists Decide With Whom They’d Like To Road Trip

But are they driving or riding shotgun?

Mentorship comes up a lot when you talk with entrepreneurs. Founders and CEOs often credit their mentors, at least in part, for their successes. And many entrepreneurs call their mentors their heroes.

But what if every entrepreneur had a chance to pick any mentor, living or dead? Who would it be, and what would they hope to learn from them?

We asked the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists which entrepreneur or leader they would like to take a road trip with and why.

Quite a few finalists said they’d like to sit in a car next to Teddy Roosevelt. “I’d love to better understand what drove him. Was it just natural curiosity and desire? Was it insecurity and a need to prove himself? Or was it supreme confidence?,” says Ivanti CEO Stephen Daley. Executech CEO Eric Montague wants to spend time with Teddy for a different reason. “The following 1910 quote has inspired me my whole life: ‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat, and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’”

Lucid Software CEO Karl Sun chose another old timey politician to tour the country with, the very father of our country. “I think George Washington was an inspiring, and inspired individual, and it would be fascinating to understand him as a person. But perhaps most intriguing to me is why and how he decided to step down as president — at a time when not only did the constitution not limit the president to two terms, but everyone expected leaders to go on serving.”

Matthew Rissell, Executive Director of, chose yet another president, Calvin Coolidge. Rissell says, “My favorite quote [from Coolidge] is, ‘Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are alone omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.’” Rissell says, “I would love to know what caused him to write that quote. What barriers he faced and/or what challenges he was planning to face.”

And then there’s a fourth president to be mentioned as an interesting road trip companion, though Malouf CEO Sam Malouf isn’t looking to learn, instead just kind of observe. “I love going to Mexico. I speak Spanish, and I love the people and the food. If I’m in California, I almost always drive over the boarder to get good tacos. It would be interesting to take Donald Trump,” Malouf says.

Walt Disney is another figure more than one finalist chose. “He revolutionized the art of providing experiences as a business. I have a long list of questions for him,” says CircusTrix CEO Case Lawrence. Operation Underground Railroad CEO Timothy Ballard also wants to ride with Disney, saying, “My friend recently showed me the original prospectus for Disneyland. It was the same prospectus Walt Disney used to try to get loans for Disneyland, an endeavor that brought rejection after rejection. Lenders thought it was a bad idea and a sink tank that wouldn’t make money. Walt Disney believed that the lenders were wrong and wasn’t afraid to look outside the box and create something that had never been created before.” Ballard adds, “I had a similar experience with O.U.R. because a non-profit dedicated to going undercover and rescuing children is not something you see everyday. The experts told me not to do it and that it wouldn’t work, but I knew we could make it work.”

Other finalists chose Alexander Graham Bell, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, Elon Musk, Jessica Alba, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and more. Each finalist has a unique reason for their pick, and each response demonstrates how willing and eager these finalists are to learn from successors.

Mentorship is necessary to entrepreneurship, but so is a willingness to be mentored, something each EY finalist has.

Tomorrow is the last day to get tickets to the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Gala.

Rubi Life, The Creators Of A Wearable Fetal Activity Tracker, Wins $40K At Utah Entrepreneur…

“Women want a closer connection with their baby.”

Pregnancy is rough. It starts with what feels like food poisoning that last for three months. Then, once the nausea subsides a little, the heartburn sets in, and you can’t even like at a snack without fire roaring in your throat. Then you get to the point where it hurts just to exist and no clothes, not even the maternity pants with the extra stretchy waistband, fit. But the very worst part of pregnancy is the constant anxiety that comes from wondering if your baby is okay inside the womb. Sure, you can do a kick count, but what do you do if the count is low? How do you know the difference between paranoia and an actual, medical emergency? I once showed up to my doctor’s office unannounced and demanded an ultrasound just because my baby’s kicks seemed a little less enthusiastic than normal. I was desperate for a peace of mind, like all pregnant mothers are, and wishing there was some way to get it more easily and more affordably.

Which is probably why Rubi Life, the makers of a wearable fetal activity tracker, walked away with the $40,000 grand prize at the 2017 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

Rubi Life offers the peace of mind for which pregnant mothers long. Using nanotechnology, the Rubi Life fetal activity tracker — attached to an elastic maternity band — tracks kick count, heart rate, and fetal position. Rubi Life sends the activity tracker data to an app on the mother’s phone and alerts her if her baby is at risk.

“Women want a closer connection with their baby,” says Rubi Life founder Eric Stopper. Stopper was inspired to start Rubi Life after his wife’s miserable pregnancy during which she was constantly sick and worried about her unborn son. “There was definitely a log of anxiety,” Stopper says. “I felt there had to be something better.”

Stopper originally intended to create an at-home ultrasound system, then pivoted to a more wearable fetal tracker. He plans to use the $40,000 from the Entrepreneur Challenge to develop the app.

The Entrepreneur Challenge, managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, is open to all university students in the state. Stopper is a senior in the marketing program at BYU, but will be taking time off from school to run the flourishing business. After winning, Stopper told other entrepreneurs, “Take it one day at a time, when you feel like giving up you just have to make it work.”

To bring the story full circle, I offer that same advice to pregnant woman everywhere.


“This could be the foodie app.”

Man, you know what sounds good right now? A chili dog. Doesn’t that just sound so good right now? I think I need to go get one. But I don’t know where to go. I guess I could search Yelp for restaurants that might serve chili dogs, but I have no way of knowing if the chili dogs at those restaurants are good, because Yelp rates restaurants as a whole, and not by individual item.

Also, wouldn’t it be great if when we tried new restaurants, there was some way to know what dish we should order? Sure, we could ask the waiter, but that is just one opinion, and wouldn’t it be better to have lots of opinions? WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!

It doesn’t have to be this hard. That’s something Grubinary cofounders Lauren Montellete and Ethan Welborn realized, and they decided to do something to make finding good food easier. So they created Grubinary.

Grubinary is an app that finds great food near you. “There are so many apps out there that focus on finding great restaurants near you (Yelp, FourSquare, etc.), but none of them truly hone in on finding great food dishes,” explains Montalette. “With Grubinary, you can search for “bacon cheeseburger” and Grubinary will literally give you all of the bacon cheeseburgers near you ranked by best rating first, that way you can find the best one near you.” Grubinary also allows users to search by restaurant and identify the best dish on the menu based on user reviews.

“This could be an asset for people who are really starting to get into food,” Welborn says. “And it could really help restaurants in the area.” Not all food at a 2-star restaurant is 2-star food, Welborn says. There are hidden culinary treasures in seemingly unremarkable establishments all over the valley. Grubinary will help those treasures be found.

“I would really like to see Grubinary used in the food-finding culture of Salt Lake,” Welborn says. “The real goal is to see if we can impact at least one community.”