April 6, 2024
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Health care innovators take center stage in 2022 South Coast Business & Technology Awards


Cottage Health is one of the winners of the Excellence in Service Award at the South Coast Business & Technology Awards. (file photo)

Industries all over the world were debilitated by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but perhaps none more than health care.

For years, yearly checkups were the norm for millions of people, but with overfilled hospitals and risk of infection suddenly a huge concern, people began skipping visits to doctor’s offices and hospitals.

In the years that followed, companies like Teladoc Health — formerly Goleta-based InTouch Health, before it was acquired in 2020 — helped bridge the gap by getting the health care industry online. For its work, Teladoc is one of the recipients of this year’s South Coast Business & Technology Awards, which will be hosted by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara on June 16.

“Health care is going through an internet-based transformation or digital transformation,” Yulun Wang, the founder of InTouch Health and a fellow at Teladoc, told the Business Times. “Teladoc Health is leading that transformation.”

For the first time since the pandemic started in 2020, the South Coast Business & Technology Awards will hold its celebration in person, at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

“The most important takeaway about this year’s event is that we’re returning to a live format. Last year, we did a combination 2020-2021 event, but it was a virtual event, so we’re super excited to be back live,” said Tim Dougherty, chief communications officer of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. “We love the fact that we’re honoring and celebrating local business leaders and local executives, the people who make our community so vibrant.”


The awards will honor 10 companies and business leaders, including Teladoc Health as the 2022 Company of the Year. Three other health care companies — Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and Cottage Health — are being honored with the Excellence in Service award.

Dave Powers of Deckers Brands is the Executive of the Year, Michael Crandell of Bitwarden is the Entrepreneur of the Year, and Kathy Odell of Women’s Economic Ventures will receive the Pioneer Award. And there are three Rising Stars: Umbra, Outer Aisle and Clevr Blends.

The health care focus is no coincidence. Wang said the ongoing transformation of health care includes accessing medical needs online, whether that means meeting with a doctor, accessing records, or even receiving help from an artificial intelligence platform.

“These things are how the health care system is going to evolve, and this is what Teladoc does,” Wang said. “We’re doing a much better job now, but there’s still a long ways to go. It’s nowhere close to be fully systemically adopted.”

Cottage Health owns hospitals in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Solvang and clinics throughout the tri-county region.

“Cottage is proud to be recognized alongside Sansum Clinic and Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, two other healthcare organizations which also have long histories of service to our community,” Cottage Health CEO Ron Werft said in an email to the Business Times. “Choosing a career in healthcare is a powerful way to serve the community. Thank you to South Coast Business & Technology and Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara for their support of education for the future health care workforce.”

Sansum Clinic has also been a leader during the pandemic, helping create a telehealth program that has conducted more than 207,000 online visits since 2020. The clinic also created the Santa Barbara County’s first drive-up, appointment-based COVID-19 testing operation, providing nearly 100,000 tests. Sansum has also administered more than 28,000 COVID vaccine shots since the beginning of 2021.
Sansum has more than 220 physicians working across 23 locations.

“Sansum Clinic is unique in that we bring the expertise, breadth and depth of a large-city system, and combine it with a level of warmth and welcome that flows naturally from our special geographic setting,” CEO Kurt Ransohoff told the Business Times via email. “We’re not just a place you visit when you are sick or need a medical test. We are an organization committed to helping you lead the longest, healthiest life you can.”

Umbra, one of the Rising Stars winners, is a Santa Barbara-based microsatellite company. In 2021, the company launched its patented synthetic aperture radar (SAR) microsatellites aboard one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.

Outer Aisle is a food manufacturer based in Ventura that specializes in cauliflower pizza crusts and other gluten-free items.

In 2021, Outer Aisle was No. 185 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest growing privately held companies in the United States, with a three-year growth rate of 2,282%.

Clevr Blends is a Santa Barbara-based Wellness Brand that makes lattes and other coffee drinks with healthy ingredients.

Crandell, the Entrepreneur of the Year, is the CEO of Santa Barbara-based Bitwarden, a free and open-source password management service that stores sensitive information such as website credentials in an encrypted vault.

Crandell has also led other companies to success, including RightScale, a multi-cloud management platform that he founded and was acquired by Flexera in 2018.

Crandell said he was “shocked” to be honored.

“I majored in religious studies in college and kind of stumbled into the tech world. After getting rejected for a job as a technical writer, I was fortunate to have a mentor who taught me coding. One of many, many great people I’ve been blessed to work with over the years,” Crandell told the Business Times via email. “People think technology companies are about the technical wizardry — but ultimately, they’re really about people. And I’ve been lucky to have worked with so many outstanding people. If you look at it the right way, everyone has something to teach you.”

Powers, this year’s Executive of the Year, is the CEO of Goleta-based Deckers. The company generated $1.18 billion in revenue in its most recent quarter and continues to find success with its new running shoe brand, Hoka One One. Deckers has a market capitalization of about $6.2 billion, the fifth highest of any public company based in the tri-county region.

“I am honored to receive this award, because service is a value embedded in Deckers’ culture—our desire is to do good in our community and do great in business so we can continue to make a positive impact. This work wouldn’t be possible without the energy of an incredible team of people galvanized behind a common vision,” Powers said in an email statement.

Kathy Odell will be honored with the Pioneer Award. She is the CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures, a Santa Barbara-based organization that provides funding, training and other support to women entrepreneurs. She told the Business Times that last year alone, WEV helped 800 women start their own companies.

“From the beginning of my career I have always been a strong prophet of entrepreneurship and worked to encourage other individuals, especially women, to become entrepreneurs and we have continued that work at WEV,” Odell said. “One of the most gratifying things in my career is that I have been able to encourage so many people who have gone on to make a big difference.”