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Founder Friday: This father-daughter duo is on a quest to improve global health, one person at a time

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Founder Friday: This father-daughter duo is on a quest to improve global health, one person at a time

It all began with a very personal story. We did not start with any grand plan in mind. The objective was purely and simply to create a couple of high-quality products that had efficacy and that people could trust. My personal agenda was to produce a daily multi-nutrient that I believed would benefit Monique.

Trevor Bolland and Monique Bolland, co-founders of Nuzest.


When Trevor Bolland discovered that his 22-year-old daughter Monique Bolland had Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that affects the central nervous system and is incurable, he set out on a quest to learn about alternative health and nutrition. What began as a father and daughter looking for solutions has grown into a global company today, formulating supportive nutrition for all.

This is the story of Nuzest, an Australasian nutritional business that is celebrating 10 years of providing high-quality plant-based supplements. 

“I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. As yet, there is no medical cure, and at that time, unlike today, there was very little in the way of treatments to slow down the progress of the disease.  My MRI showed quite serious lesions on the brain and spine, and the prognosis I was given was bleak. I was in a very dark place, and my parents were equally distressed,” Monique recalls.

“My Dad is very determined and does not take no for an answer. He decided to sell out of his business and focus on finding a solution. We spoke to doctors, scientists, and natural health practitioners worldwide and discovered what most health-conscious people understand today; that a balanced lifestyle and good nutrition are critical to good health and longevity.

Monique recounts spending many weeks at a time at a Naturopathic Health Centre in the United States, focusing solely on restoring balance to her body and mind, learning about diet, and receiving natural treatments to help manage the disease.

“Although my background was in graphic and web design, with a degree in Digital Marketing, this journey led me to various studies in nutrition and health coaching and opening an integrated health clinic in Sydney. Meanwhile, she adds that my Dad continued his research and became involved in the health supplements industry.

“Dad and I saw an opportunity to improve on what was already available in the market; to create products that would genuinely support people’s health – not just read well on the labels. In 2012 we joined forces and launched Nuzest – Nutrition for Life.”

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The beginning

Trevor Bolland notes that the story of Nuzest did not begin with a big plan. The goal was to build a couple of high-quality items that were effective and that people could rely on. The goal was to create a daily multi-nutrient that would benefit his daughter Monique.

“Through my involvement in the health supplement industry since Monique’s diagnosis, I had learned a little about production and distribution and was confident that if we could produce a good product, we should be able to find a market.

“However, we were essentially new to the industry, with my background being primarily in the property and early childcare education sectors and previously in the Navy. The production and distribution of health-food supplements was a completely different ball game.”

‘We realised we needed to engage and consult with experts in their field.’

Trevor says he called upon many contacts he had made since Monique’s diagnosis, including a team of health practitioners and PhD scientists to assist with the formulation. The duo engaged a highly respected design company in Sydney, Boldinc, to direct brand development, and teamed up with a long-time friend in New Zealand with a career in marketing and communications to partner with them in the launch (in New Zealand).

“Our distribution has grown exponentially and is now available in over 20 countries. Our head office in Potts Point coordinates manufacturing and production in five different countries. 90 per cent of our packaging, design and marketing is now conducted in-house, and we employ people all over the world in roles from sales and logistics to customer service,” Trevor says.

“We have never actively sought distribution in other regions but have taken chances on people who were as passionate about our products as we were and grown with them. Many of our early distributors were people we have known personally or professionally for years or met while starting. These tight connections have meant the feeling of being a family resonates throughout our global team.

“While the products remain fundamentally the same, we continually review and revise our formulations to ensure they are always up to date with the latest scientific research. We will always do this to ensure we are true to our promise of being ‘led by nature, backed by science. 

“Our focus for the foreseeable future is on growing our current markets, extending our product range, and transitioning to fully sustainable packaging by 2025.”

‘The greatest challenge was the unknown.’

Trevor admits that they had minimal industry experience. Thus, there was a lot of “sometimes expensive” on-the-job learning. This included what to look for in manufacturing contracts, how to price the items, what margins were needed for the retail market, labelling needs, the regulatory environment, package sourcing, logistics, and much more.

“We were lucky that we entered the market with plant-based products when “plant-based” popularity was in its infancy. We entered the market with a high-quality pea protein isolate that tasted good and had immediate success. Because we had something different to offer, he says we could get traction in most health food stores in the country.

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“We started distribution out of a downstairs room in my partner’s home in Auckland. From there, we did all the packing, managed deliveries, handled customer service, designed marketing collateral, and wrote all the marketing copy. To date, the business has been entirely self-funded.”

‘High-level athletes and personalities became brand advocates, not by contract but by choice as passionate consumers’

Trevor says that Nuzest has become a household name in New Zealand thanks to advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, and attendance at exhibitions across the nation. This was made possible by a strong base of devoted consumers, which included numerous elite athletes and public figures who chose to become brand ambassadors rather than being asked to do so.

“Entering new markets has been particularly challenging. There is an entirely new regulatory environment, different labelling requirements, logistical challenges, different distribution systems, and new competition. There is no easy way to navigate these waters, especially without experience in the industry. It was simply a matter of learning by trial and error, taking the first step and finding your way.

“After ten years in business, the challenges keep coming. There has been a plethora of new brands, many with significant financial backing due to the market opportunity offered by the growth in the sector, with each advocating their credentials as being of the highest quality. It is difficult to be heard above the noise and equally difficult for the consumer to know whom to believe.

“With the introduction of Good Green Vitality (previously named Good Green Stuff), our biggest challenge was explaining what it was and what it was designed for; how it was different from a multivitamin tablet or the usual mixture of just Spirulina, Chlorella and Wheat Grass. This challenge continues today, and we rely very much on one-on-one communication, the support of health practitioners, and word-of-mouth.”

The COVID-19 effect – Supply chain bottlenecks

Trevor says that COVID 19, whilst initially being a cause for increased demand, has resulted in significant supply chain challenges and increased costs, placing pressure on margins and on the ability to supply stock.

“The industry generally is more complex than ever. Because of growth in consumer demand, the entire industry is growing exponentially. We have multiple companies providing innovative ingredients and new delivery formats such as Gummies, candies, and shots. More competition with Venture Capital funding numerous start-ups and multinationals entering the sector. This has brought more focus from regulatory bodies resulting in additional barriers and increased costs.

“However, there is equally more recognition by people of the importance of good nutrition and significant scientific research on the benefits of certain nutrients for specific conditions and general health. There is also greater acceptance by many in the traditional medicine of an integrative approach to health care. Medicine is science, and Science is, after all, the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural world.”

For the greater cause

Trevor believes that knowledge is the first point for good nutrition for everyone. “We are trialling a program in underprivileged primary schools in New Zealand called “Basecamp”. It aims to inspire and empower young children through nutrition, health and wellbeing.

“The school is visited by one of our Nuzest sports ambassadors, who share their success story and explains how being healthy in body and mind helped them believe and achieve their lifelong dream.

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“They deliver a masterclass outside on the sports field and then teach the children to make a nutritious smoothie as part of their healthy eating plan. The aim is for the children to make the connection that food is mood and food is energy and that a healthy mind and healthy body lead to greater focus and success.

“We are selecting schools in the 5th decile (lower socio-economic communities) in New Zealand as a sustainable and positive ‘give back to schools in need.

“However, the parents’ education also needs to be addressed. We tend to think of supplements as being expensive. However, if the cost of a serving of Kids Good Stuff is compared with the price of a take-out coffee, a glass of beer or wine, or a packet of cigarettes, we might understand that good nutrition is more accessible than most people realise.

“That does not, of course, apply to everyone. Still, perhaps one answer could be a Government-led social programme in partnership with supplement companies, providing vouchers for quality nutritional support products.”

The never-ending debate on supplements

Monique notes that the question that is debated is the need or otherwise for supplementation by the general population versus reliance on food from your daily diet alone.

“I would like to clarify that we do not advocate supplements as a cure for, or prevention of, disease. I still have Multiple Sclerosis. Whilst a change in lifestyle and good nutrition helped me manage that in the early years, there are pharmaceutical solutions today that can slow down the progression of the disease. We believe in an integrative approach to health, and I take advantage of all the available tools to enable me to lead an everyday life.

“While we firmly believe that food comes first, sometimes diet alone isn’t enough to meet the nutritional requirements of modern life. Even a clean, whole-food-based diet may not provide the variety or required levels of nutrients for optimal health. The soil our food is grown in is often deficient in nutrients. These crops’ harvesting, storage and transportation can further deplete their nutritional value. 

“The medical profession widely prescribes some supplements for specific conditions or where there is serious depletion. Vitamin D, Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 and many more are regularly taken on medical advice. Vitamin D is a strongly advised supplement for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

“Additionally, many people have medical or genetic conditions that don’t produce, absorb, or metabolise certain nutrients. If our digestive systems are out of balance, we may not absorb all the nutrients in the food we consume. Other people, such as athletes, tend to need more of certain nutrients than the average person.

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“Finally, people are on restricted diets due to food allergies or beliefs where supplementation of certain essential nutrients is advised.

“The difference between a product like Good Green Vitality and a simple multivitamin tablet is that it is food based and therefore contains a matrix of nutrients that can be found in whole foods. It is also more than a multivitamin and much more than just a “greens” powder; it is a comprehensive blend of whole food powders strengthened with high polyphenol fruit extracts, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals, dietary enzymes, probiotics and more, a true superfood more than a simple supplement.”

“Whilst we always advise people to seek advice from their health practitioner before taking supplements for therapeutic purposes, we do advocate the use of a daily multi-nutrient such as Nuzest Good Green Vitality to help fill nutritional gaps due to potential deficiencies in the everyday diet. In many ways, it can be likened to an insurance policy.”

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.

Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”

“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.

The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

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The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.

Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”

The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.

But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.

The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.

Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.

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The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.

“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.

According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.

Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.

“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.

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Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”

Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”

In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”

Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.

In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”

A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.

Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.

In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.

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The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.

In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.

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Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers

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Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.

It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.

The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.

There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:

1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.

2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.

3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.

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4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.

5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.

6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.

 

We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.

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