Utah is an incubator for successful companies. Tech businesses flock to the state, creating a software industry that other places only dream of. Entrepreneurs discover Utah’s talented workforce, team up with dynamic people and launch products and services found nowhere else in the world. From the best of the best, some companies rise to the top, gaining attention and creating a buzz in their industries. These are four of those companies.
If you’ve ever taken a Facebook quiz to find out which Brady Bunch character you are, you’ve interacted with a product created by Movement Ventures.
The company is a group of entrepreneurs, web designers, engineers and self-confessed computer geeks that create interactive content tools anyone can use. Several hundred people use their products for the first time every day and more than 1,000 visitors per week are signing up for the complete set of tools.
Top publishers in the world like Funny or Die, Gawker, College Humor and Vimeo use the products to create online quizzes, polls and lists to engage fans by drawing them in with fun content.
Michigan-native Josh Little founded the company after a trip to Utah introduced him to the wide array of tech talent available in the state. As he got on the plane to fly back to Michigan, he realized he’d just hired his leadership team in Utah and should probably move here. He went back to Michigan, pulled up stakes and relocated, adding another world-class tech company to the state’s already impressive list.
Investors were important as Little began to build his network. He says partnering with Kickstarter, Pelion and Peterson was the best decision he made as he brought content creation to the masses.
Products like Qzzr and Pollcaster are used every day by content-generating brands, but it’s the new offering, Boombox, that includes all of the company’s products plus the ability for teams around the globe to collaborate and work with each other. Boombox launched in October 2015 and its popularity exploded.
“We made a move to make Boombox the public brand of the company,” Little says. “You don’t see many software companies having multiple brandings for multiple products. Half of our audience are brands and marketers who are driving traffic. But once they have those consumers, they want to convert that interaction into a lead and take the person to the next level of interaction, maybe by following a social media page.”
For example, Zenni Optical created a quiz to help potential customers find the eyeglass frames perfect for their lifestyle. They created a nine-question quiz called Find Your Frames that suggested a style of frame based on the answers. It also included a link to Zenni’s site to see similar frames.
Nearly 700,000 people responded to the quiz, astounding the content creators. “People are looking for meaning,” Little says. “A quiz that asks all those dynamic questions—and we’re all a bit narcissistic—is engaging. The company had no idea that quiz would be that successful.”
Another example revolved around the infamous dress that spurred vigorous debate on whether it was blue/black or white/gold. Gawker made a quiz about the dress and had 1.6 million hits in 12 hours. It was one of the first social media interactions about the dress that blew up the internet.
Movement Ventures’ products are user-friendly with tutorials, a learning center and an online chat feature to lend additional support. “One of our goals is to become an everyday product for our customers. Creating content is so easy that they have success the first time. One goal is to make our customers prolific. But we’re not done and we have a long way to go.”
Granger Medical Clinic
Back in 1954, Drs. Lavere Poulsen and Glenn Wilson opened the first medical practice west of the Jordan River, serving communities then known as Granger. They were family doctors who established trusting relationships with patients and developed a quality reputation for their medical practice.
More than 50 years later, Granger Medical Clinic (GMC) has experienced fantastic growth, expanding care to residents in places like Draper, Bountiful, Tooele, Riverton and Millcreek. It’s become the largest independent medical clinic group in the Salt Lake Valley, but the mission behind the practice has returned to its roots.
“In the past, doctors had close relationships with their patients,” says David Tanner, GMC CEO. “You knew who your family doctor was. So much of medicine now is you’re a number in a chair and your doctor rushes you through and you don’t feel you get much care in the process.
“We’re going back to one-on-one patient relationships, yet having the intelligence of informational systems behind the medicine, which means our doctors can stay on top of what’s happening with a patient.”
The business is an organization driven, owned and governed by physicians. Admin support provided by the clinic allows physicians to function as individually as possible. A vast group of in-house specialists allows doctors to collaborate, hone their skills, increase quality and create an efficiency that results in better outcomes.
There are challenges in today’s medical landscape including rising costs, the sustainability of the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges, the escalation of obesity and catering to underserved populations. But Tanner says GMC’s approach to healthcare is keeping patients out of the hospital.
For instance, people with diabetes are learning how to manage their insulin levels better as alert care coordinators take time
to schedule routine tests and check in with patients on a regular basis. Additionally, the clinics accept almost all health plans and doctors work in every hospital in the valley to ensure a continuity of patient care.
GMC has incorporated the use of an electronic medical records system for more than 15 years. Providers can quickly access patient information, order labs, refill prescriptions and document medical history, while patients have convenient access to their own records.
It must be working, because in November GMC received the HealthInsight Quality Award for the sixth consecutive year.
With 16 clinics, 600 employees, and more than 70 physicians and advanced practitioners, GMC is poised to change the healthcare scene in the Salt Lake Valley and beyond. Along with its internal and family medicine physicians, the clinic includes specialized care for pediatrics, urology, gynecology/obstetrics, allergy and asthma.
Since Tanner started as CEO in 2013, he has seen GMC double in size and expects it to double again in the next 18 months. His goal is to have a primary care clinic in every neighborhood.
“I knew I had some of the best physicians in the community, and now our numbers are really showing that. …We have doctors who really care about their patients. Our model allows them to keep the feel of an intimate family relationship with the patients, and not so much corporate medicine.”
When starting his online boutique marketplace Jane.com in 2011, founder Mike McEwan bootstrapped himself into nearly $30,000 of debt. Five years later, the rapidly growing company is a multi-million dollar business, generating revenue of more than $80 million in 2015 and garnering interest from business leaders around the country.
The model isn’t earth-shattering. In the beginning, McEwan’s wife, Megan, would find sellers on the internet with great products for women, children and home décor. Then she’d contact them to see if they wanted to sell with Jane.com.
But McEwan believes that what sets his company apart from other online boutiques is the high quality of customer service provided. “The big thing for us was treating customers the way they want to be treated. If there was a problem, we had to respond quickly and positively, and create a resolution.”
Now the site is host to 1,500 unique sellers and getting 435,000 page views and 70,000 unique visitors per day. After creating a mobile platform, the company experienced a huge jump in numbers with more than 50 percent of all revenue coming from the mobile apps.
“It’s been another channel to cater to,” McEwan says. “A lot of our customers are moms. They’re busy. They’re always on the go. They’re all over the place. The biggest way they take in content is on their phones.”
A web developer by trade, McEwan could not have imagined the crazy growth experienced by Jane.com. In its second year, it grew by 1,400 percent. The third year demonstrated a 450 percent growth, and last year it was still expanding with 165 percent growth. The company that started in the family basement has just opened an office at Thanksgiving Park in Lehi and employs more than 60 people.
McEwan credits his success to several key points. First, he hires people who are passionate about their jobs. He also makes it clear that workplace drama is inefficient and gets in the way of creativity.
“This is a team effort. We don’t have time for backbiting. The most important thing for us is getting that hire right the first time. Hire the right people first and then you can figure out where they go.”
Second, by bootstrapping his business he was able to make decisions without oversight and red tape. He refused to sacrifice long-term goals for short-term gains and was dedicated to creating a good experience for sellers and customers.
Third, McEwan incorporated philanthropic causes into his online platform. Recently, he partnered with Musana, a website that allows artisans from Uganda to sell their products to provide food, shelter and medical care for their families. Jane.com acquired 1,400 pieces from Musana and they quickly sold out. He has plans for more charitable partnerships in the future.
With continued growth and excellent customer service, McEwan could very well achieve his objective. “My goal is for Jane.com to become a household name like Amazon or eBay.”
Younique is reinventing the home party business model and turning the concept of direct sales upside down. Instead of the traditional home sales party that includes hours of stressing, cleaning and refreshment making for the hostess, Younique sells almost exclusively through social media outlets.
Founded by brother and sister duo Derek Maxfield and Melanie Huscroft in March 2013, Younique offers skin care products, make-up, beauty tools and the opportunity for presenters to either make a living or earn some extra money on the side. Its premiere product, Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes mascara, sells more than 16,000 units every day.
“We discovered that people don’t want to hold parties. They’re too busy,” Maxfield says. “Instead, the party host schedules a day and time, decides which social media platform to use and hosts a virtual party with a 10-day window.”
Before Maxfield even knew what he would sell, he knew he wanted to create a company focused on virtual parties. He and his sister researched trends, held focus groups, targeted beauty and found their niche. The company launches new products twice a year and has a product development staff, including a scientist, to create items their customers rave about.
Younique is the fastest-growing direct sales business in the world, according to Maxfield, and he believes it’s the company’s cause that rocketed Younique to the forefront of beauty sales. In fact, it was the company’s mission that brought Maxfield out of an early retirement.
Maxfield and his wife, Shelaine, were compelled to create a charitable organization to assist women who survived sexual abuse as a child. “One in four women have been sexually abused at some point in their life,” Maxfield says. “We created the Younique Foundation and the response was overwhelming. It’s become part of our brand and it’s been embraced.”
The Younique Foundation held its first Haven Retreat in June 2015, inviting 11 women to learn skills to create long-term healing and hope. Younique’s mission statement, “To uplift, empower, validate, and ultimately build self-esteem in women around the world” has resonated with thousands of women, including the 360,000 party presenters who work for Younique.
“We create a family setting for our sales people. We give them financial opportunities and a quick paycheck. It’s empowering for them to contribute financially to the family,” says Maxfield. Although he is a founder and CEO of the company, he says Younique’s success is due to dedicated women who inspire and encourage others in their daily lives. “I think the success has had very little to do with me. I always tell the team we hire hearts, not heads.”