The strangest tech to come out of Utah in April
Sometimes the Beehive state makes you proud—and sometimes you just want to lock yourself inside Post Malone’s rumored McMansion-esque doomsday bunker and hunker down until the embarrassment of your zip code fades.
First up: Can people please stop Snapchatting while driving? Apparently not, according to Utah’s 15 percent spike in car-related fatalities in 2021. Enter bill S.B. 102—which, if passed, makes taking selfies while driving a Class C misdemeanor.
Up next: The smug white male sh**show of AlphaCon 2022. The two-day MLM-in-disguise event promised wannabe entrepreneurs vague information on how to level up their businesses under the slogan, “Be great or be nothing.” In other words, no beta soy boys allowed. The dude in charge of this testosterone fest is Jeremiah Evans, whose Google search results include paid-for puff pieces, 348K Instagram followers (likely courtesy of Spambots ‘R’ Us), Trump-fanboyism, references to himself as “The Bull,” and unsupported claims that he’s a multimillionaire. Fair enough. From now on, please refer to me as Zara “The Rainbow” Stone, OK?
Anywho, the reason for including AlphaCon in this huckster column is not to sell you Evans’ snake oil—it’s because he’s such a good example of the issues inherent in today’s hustle culture. He epitomizes the brash, take-no-prisoners mentality whereby the combination of vomiting up buzzwords, buying fake followers, and posting flashy videos will convince some people to pony up the cash to be just like him. Obviously, Evans’ “mentorship” and “success courses” are for sale. His main lessons were distilled into this ABC4 segment with a bemused Doug Jessop: buy property and sell life insurance. Le sigh.
Keeping with the “I can’t believe this is real” theme, up next is your favorite game: Two Truths And a Lie, The Utah Tech Edition. Out of the following three Utah food startups, can you guess which is the fake one?
- A startup that sells gourmet matcha and dark chocolate cricket-flour energy bars
- A startup that sells frozen, chocolate-covered fruit to help chocolate addicts get their five servings of fruits and veggies per day
- A startup that sells luxury zebra milk to enhance breastfeeding supply
In January 2022, with much fanfare, Canadian company Osisko Development acquired Utah’s Tintic Mining District for some $177 million in cash and shares. The resurgence of the state’s gold mining market was not a surprise to the people behind Alpine-based Goldback, the currency that puts “gold back” into circulation. The company likes to say they’re not a currency but rather “real money,” with each Goldback bill equivalent to 1/1000th of a gold troy ounce (a measurement used in the precious metals biz). Forget paper money—try “Goldback” money, polymer notes embedded with atomized gold particles. At this time, one Goldback is roughly equivalent to $3.81.
On the one hand: gold prices are rising. On the other: Goldback’s origin story references prophetic visions à la Joseph Smith. Seriously, Goldback CEO Jeremy Cordon blogged about the “intense dream” he experienced in 2019, in which dream-Jeremy purchased produce via golden notes. “Golden bills were being used as money,” he wrote. The Goldback business is based on more than vision quests, though. Cordon has dabbled in precious metals and gold-based crypto projects for years, and his team has similar nous.
Goldbacks are available for purchase online and can be spent—in person!—at an electric array of locales. Their 200+ Utah outlets include Firearms Pro, Davidson Defense, BMC Fabrication and Erection Inc., Ace Hardware, and more, plus a bunch of stores in Nevada and New Hampshire. Wyoming and South Dakota are next on their roadmap. For people stumped on the dollar-to-Goldback conversion, they built a nifty “Goldback calculator.” Feedback has been mixed so far.
SNO-GO on the slopes
As summer looms and the snow season becomes a distant memory, now is the perfect time to stock up on those discounted winter essentials—such as the $2,499 Hexed™ Carbon SNO-GO Bike (which is actually just back-ordered, not discounted). Sandy-based SNO-GO, which soft-launched in 2016, builds this souped-up bike, ski, and snowboard hybrid that purports to be “easier to learn” than skiing and snowboarding via its ski-trike design. Riders snap their feet into the bike’s back skis and steer via handlebars driving the front ski—clever engineering helps the front suspension ski carve its way down the slopes.
According to co-founder Chase Wagstaff, SNO-GO’s ethos is “to provide yet another door to adventure….a door that anyone can access.” There you have it.
SNO-GO’s 4th-gen 2022 model is a fresh reboot, offering better handling, more boot customization, and the addition of a carbon fiber blend for the suspension that drops the overall weight to 12 kilos. Sure, the concept is a bit of a head-scratcher, but know this: SLC’s “Real Housewives” rode SNO-GO bikes in season two. If they can manage it, it’s safe to say y’all can as well.
Join The Cowboy Club
Once upon a moonshine in the 1800s, Butch Cassidy and Billy, the Kid struck fear in every Utah rancher’s heart with their gun-happy antics. Eventually, these outlaws were corralled by cowboys, and the Wild West breathed a sigh of relief. This brings us to the Rose & Rawhide Western Club, a subscription box created by three modern-day bonafide Utah cowboys, according to their press release. Customers can opt for the $39.95 per month Rose or Rawhide box, each pre-loaded with fashionable products for the wannabe lone ranger: cowboys receive a selection of belt buckles, knives, and bolo necklaces, whereas cowgirls receive earrings, pendants, buckles, and scarf slides. Giddy up.
Answer to Two Truths And a Lie, The Utah Tech Edition:
The zebra milk startup is the fake one (though not that far-fetched, considering the fact that zebra and human milk are startlingly similar). Salt Lake City-based Chapul sells flour made from crickets (unfortunately, their energy bars were discontinued in 2019), and West Valley City-based Trü Frü sells frozen, chocolate-covered raspberries.