Meet the LA-Based Health Tech Companies Building Solutions To Help People Manage Their Health

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Meet the LA-Based Health Tech Companies Building Solutions To Help People Manage Their Health
Courtesy of Healthvana

The coronavirus outbreak cast fear across the nation, but the pandemic was extremely stress inducing for those who were medically at-risk. Coupled with the 200,000 health care workers who left the profession last year, there is a bigger need for products and devices that people with medical ailments can rely on wherever they are.

Here’s a look at three local health tech companies creating those solutions and products that aim to help people manage and better their health.


Healthvana

Healthvana

If you’re familiar with Healthvana, it’s probably because the company was known for distributing digital health records during the pandemic. But prior to COVID-19, the Los Angeles-based health tech and software company focused its efforts on HIV prevention.

In 2020, there were 50,243 people living with HIV in Los Angeles County and another 1,382 people were newly diagnosed.

Since 2015, the company’s goal has always been to end HIV and while the pandemic shifted their focus, founder and CEO Ramin Bastani said Healthvana is back to concentrating on its core mission. In December, the company announced its partnership with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the launch of a new study to see if a digital watch (in this use case, it is an Apple watch) can help end the HIV epidemic.

“A lot of health care just feels super slow and archaic,” Bastani told dot.LA, “and when you’re talking about a population that wants instant information to their phones, the next evolution is a wearable.”

So how does it work?

Every city will select 100 patients to receive a digital watch at no cost to help them stay consistent with PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)—a once a day pill for men who sexually engage with other men. While PrEP is considered to be 99% effective in preventing HIV, Bastani said “patients who start PrEP, don’t always stay on it.”

Bastani said, prior to this study, Healthvana would send patients who started PrEP a couple reminders throughout the month to check in and see how they are doing.

“We are that software layer that helps communicate from the clinic to the patient,” Bastani said.

But for the study, Healthvana will send daily reminders to each patient through the digital watch to see if this new method will help those who are at risk of HIV to stay consistent in taking PrEP.

The study officially started in January and the five cities participating include Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas and Broward County, Florida.

Bastani admitted that Healthvana has no part in selecting the patients that will participate in the study. The candidates will be selected by health care providers through the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.


Gather Labs

Gather Labs Beverly Hills location Courtesy of Gather Labs

During the height of the pandemic, fashion and bra designer Rachael McCrary was stuck at home with nothing to do so she helped her friend obtain FDA approval on his nucleic acid collection swab.

As soon as McCrary submitted the work, the research organization that handled their clinical trials encouraged McCrary to stop making bras and focus her efforts on diagnostics. But when she did, McCrary quickly learned that the labs they were using were, as she put it, “just a terrible, archaic, dinosaur way of working.”

Her frustration with the lab is what sparked the idea to create Gather Labs, a Beverly Hills-based biotechnology company and CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) lab that offers rapid diagnostic testing for patients and health providers.

“I fell in love with testing and it’s really cool to get information about your body,” McCrary said. “What’s not cool is going to Quest or LabCorp, waiting forever and you don’t know when you’re getting your test back.”

Some of Gather’s competitors like Labcorp state that it can take several days to complete the test, while Mayo Clinic’s website says COVID testing will be sent out within 1 to 3 days, but it can take longer in locations with test processing delays.

She added, “I just like people being in charge of their data and people really like diagnostics when you can get it really fast.”

Since its launch in 2022, Gather has over 100 test offerings that range from infectious diseases to toxicology. Some of their most popular tests include a 15 minute rapid antigen test ($55), 29 minute PCR test ($120), 30 minute pregnancy test ($40) and a 30 minute Influenza A+B test ($65).

On average, Gather receives over 1,500 tests each day. But what sets Gather apart is the company’s fast turnaround times varying from 15 minutes to 48 hours.

“We're just willing to run everything immediately. I could see why they weren't willing to do that,” McCrary said. “It is a little more expensive, but our priorities are patient care.”


CARI Health

Left to right: CARI Health’s chief scientific officer Torsten Fiebig and CEO Patrik Schmidle. Courtesty of CARI Health.

After Patrik Schmidle witnessed a close family member struggle with opioid use, the idea for CARI Health, a digital health startup was born.

Data from Launch Centers reports that the rate of opioid use in Los Angeles sits at 4.7%, which is higher than the national rate of 4.3%. These numbers prove that there is a need for new solutions, especially in Los Angeles to ensure that the percentage of opioid use goes down.

The San Diego-based company looking to help bring that number down just raised its seed round in January to continue developing its Remote Medication Monitors (RMM) that will allow clinicians to prescribe medications and receive real-time reporting on medication levels.

CARI is still in its early stages, but the RMM is intended to be worn by patients remotely. So as each patient takes their medication, CARI’s device will monitor how much each patient consumed and send alerts to their physician as well as help clinicians make dosage adjustments and can prevent patients from overdosing.

“The strategy is to gain entry in the marketplace by launching medications that are used to treat opioid addiction,” Schmidle said. “But our technology is flexible enough to move into other disease use cases. So we're in the process of prioritizing where we go next.”

🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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