On-Demand Disability Care Startup Joshin Arrives in LA

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

On-Demand Disability Care Startup Joshin Arrives in LA

A new health care startup in L.A. aims to make getting caregiving as easy as getting a ride, food, groceries or laundry done on demand.

Joshin vets and trains caregivers for disabled individuals and connects them through its app with specific caregiving jobs posted by families in need. The service launched this week in Los Angeles, along with Minneapolis, Chicago, New York City and Seattle. The families can use the app to create structured, specific care plans for their loved ones while they're gone and schedule regular appointments.

"It really came to light as we saw marketplaces emerge where you could get groceries delivered, you could be picked up by a Lyft, but really in the disability space it continued to be un-digitized," co-founder Melanie Fountaine said. "We felt it was time to see how big of an impact you could make by leveraging technology — but backed by a human mission."

This week, Minnesota-based Joshin raised a $3 million seed round from the Autism Impact Fund and Anthemis Group to expand nationwide and court more corporate clients. The goal is to be in all 50 states within the next year, its founders said.

Founded from Experience

Startup founders and twin sisters Fountaine and Melissa Danielsen know firsthand the challenges that come with providing quality care to a disabled loved one.

Growing up in a Native American family in Minnesota, the twins and their family didn't have easy access to resources many of us take for granted, including health care. Their brother Josh had epilepsy and was diagnosed with brain cancer, which required around-the-clock care. After Josh passed away 12 years ago at age 29, Fountaine and Danielsen processed their pain, in part, by throwing themselves into creating companies that could help other people in their brother's situation live better.

Danielsen is Joshin's CEO, while Fountaine serves as chief operating officer.

"Melissa and I grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota with limited natural resources and support," Fountaine told dot.LA. "Our family was very blue collar and often working so Melissa and I were caretakers and we're so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn those skills and to be who we are today because of it."

One in 5 American kids have health needs that require intense care, according to the CDC.. The twins observed that most health care is geared towards children up to age 12, or adults over 65 — but the middle section of adults with special needs is often ignored.

"Over 112 million Americans have a complex need which is about 30% of the employee population," Fountaine said. "They're spending 10 times the amount of time than the average employee on managing care, and we really feel like the care benefits that are out there aren't specifically designed for them," she added.

"We hear a lot about childcare backup benefits, or just childcare in general, which drops off after 12, and we do hear about elder care, but that picks up at 65. What's missing and the key now is ages 13 to 64," Fountaine said. "

She added that the Biden administration is "really focused on the care infrastructure, and specifically around Medicaid," which excites her. "We're seeing advancements in the care economy that we're really excited about, and we feel like Joshin is really positioned to be that leader in complex care," Fountaine added.

While there are ample disability startups, not many focus on providing care directly to the wide range of ages Joshin is targeting. A similar company is Sprout Therapy, which provides in-home therapy to autism patients and operates in L.A. In Australia, AbleFinder operates a social network for families of children with disabilities. Most firms — like Silicon Valley-based CarePredict — focus on wearable devices for emergency alerts and communicating with care providers, but don't actually send out caregivers.

Digital health care services are on the rise, but few are targeting Joshin's specific niche. According to PitchBook, "venture investment in retail health & wellness companies surged in Q3 2020, with $2.3 billion" invested in over 100 deals. The digital and mobile health market is expected to surge 385% to $173.8 billion nationally in the next three years.

COVID's Impact on Health Care Startups

The sisters' first company, Josh's Place,provided in-home care and accommodations for adults with disabilities across Minnesota and was bought out in 2019. The twins took what they learned from Josh's Place and founded Joshin in 2018, naming another startup after their brother with the goal of expanding it far beyond the Midwest.

"Joshin is the only digital platform that provides access for people with special needs to vetted, qualified care providers," Autism Impact Fund co-founder Chris Male said in a statement Tuesday. "The mission of The Autism Impact Fund is to revolutionize the status quo for diagnosing, treating and living with autism through a venture capital model, and we are proud to invest in Joshin as they continue empowering families and individuals through a service that can help transform that quality of life for countless people."

The twins said Joshin has seen user growth up 200% over the past year. Over 3,000 people, both caregivers and patients, use the Joshin platform now and the pandemic accelerated demand.

"The pandemic has really shone a light on the need for care in general," Danielsen said. "42% of companies are planning to expand their employee care benefits in the next two years, because these Zoom cameras are showing how much families need that."

Joshin has roughly 20 employees and is hiring, including for a sales lead. It plans to use the funding to train more care providers and become active in more cities. Danielsen said the bigger goal is to court large companies and convince them to add Joshin as part of an employee benefit package. Right now they're in talks with "several Fortune 100 companies" after pitching this week.

The twins also said they hope their work with Joshin inspires more Native American founders to create their own businesses to meet community needs.

"Melanie and I really value that part of who we are," Danielsen said. "If we're talking about diversity, equity and inclusion -- the resolve and resiliency we have, part of the reason why we have it is that other piece of us."


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Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable
Evan Xie

The original dream of streaming was all of the content you love, easily accessible on your TV or computer at any time, at a reasonable price. Sadly, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have come together over the last decade or so to recognize that this isn’t really economically viable. Instead, the streaming marketplace is slowly transforming into something approximating Cable Television But Online.

It’s very expensive to make the kinds of shows that generate the kind of enthusiasm and excitement from global audiences that drives the growth of streaming platforms. For every international hit like “Squid Game” or “Money Heist,” Netflix produced dozens of other shows whose titles you have definitely forgotten about.

The marketplace for new TV has become so massively competitive, and the streaming landscape so oversaturated, even relatively popular shows with passionate fanbases that generate real enthusiasm and acclaim from critics often struggle to survive. Disney+ canceled Luscasfilm’s “Willow” after just one season this week, despite being based on a hit Ron Howard film and receiving an 83% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon dropped the mystery drama “Three Pines” after one season as well this week, which starred Alfred Molina, also received positive reviews, and is based on a popular series of detective novels.

Even the new season of “The Mandalorian” is off to a sluggish start compared to its previous two Disney+ seasons, and Pedro Pascal is basically the most popular person in America right now.

Now that major players like Netflix, Disney+, and WB Discovery’s HBO Max have entered most of the big international markets, and bombarded consumers there with marketing and promotional efforts, onboarding of new subscribers inevitably has slowed. Combine that with inflation and other economic concerns, and you have a recipe for austerity and belt-tightening among the big streamers that’s virtually guaranteed to turn the smorgasbord of Peak TV into a more conservative a la carte offering. Lots of stuff you like, sure, but in smaller portions.

While Netflix once made its famed billion-dollar mega-deals with top-name creators, now it balks when writer/director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday”) asks for $150 million to pay her cast of A-list actors. Her latest romantic comedy will likely move over to Warner Bros., which can open the film in theaters and hopefully recoup Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender’s salaries rather than just spending the money and hoping it lingers longer in the public consciousness than “The Gray Man.”

CNET did the math last month and determined that it’s still cheaper to choose a few subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime over a conventional cable TV package by an average of about $30 per month (provided you don’t include the cost of internet service itself). But that means picking and choosing your favorite platforms, as once you start adding all the major offerings out there, the prices add up quickly. (And those are just the biggest services from major Hollywood studios and media companies, let alone smaller, more specialized offerings.) Any kind of cable replacement or live TV streaming platform makes the cost essentially comparable to an old-school cable TV package, around $100 a month or more.

So called FAST, or Free Ad-supported Streaming TV services, have become a popular alternative to paid streaming platforms, with Fox’s Tubi making its first-ever appearance on Nielsen’s monthly platform rankings just last month. (It’s now more popular than the first FAST service to appear on the chart, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV.) According to Nielsen, Tubi now accounts for around 1% of all TV viewing in the US, and its model of 24/7 themed channels supported by semi-frequent ad breaks couldn’t resemble cable television anymore if it tried.

Services like Tubi and Pluto stand to benefit significantly from the new streaming paradigm, and not just from fatigued consumers tired of paying for more content. Cast-off shows and films from bigger streamers like HBO Max often find their way to ad-supported platforms, where they can start bringing in revenue for their original studios and producers. The infamous HBO Max shows like “The Nevers” and “Westworld” that WBD controversially pulled from the HBO Max service can now be found on Tubi or The Roku Channel.

HBO Max’s recently-canceled reality dating series “FBoy Island” has also found a new home, but it’s not on any streaming platform. Season 3 will air on TV’s The CW, along with a new spinoff series called (wait for it) “FGirl Island.” So in at least some ways, “30 Rock” was right: technology really IS cyclical.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base
Evan Xie

This is the web version of dot.LA’s daily newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Another day, another update in the unending saga that is the potential TikTok ban.

The latest: separate from the various bills proposing a ban, the Biden administration has been in talks with TikTok since September to try and find a solution. Now, having thrown its support behind Senator MarkWarner’s bill, the White House is demanding TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sell its stakes in the company to avoid a ban. This would be a major blow to the business, as TikTok alone is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion—a significant portion of ByteDance’s $220 billion value.

Clearly, TikTok faces an uphill battle as its CEO Shou Zi Chew prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. But other social media companies are likely looking forward to seeing their primary competitor go—and are positioning themselves as the best replacement for migrating users.


Last year, The Washington Post reported that Meta paid a consulting firm to plant negative stories about TikTok. Now, Meta is reaping the benefits of TikTok’s downfall, with its shares rising 3% after the White House told TikTok to leave ByteDance. But this initial boost means nothing if the company can’t entice creators and viewers to Instagram and Facebook. And it doesn’t look promising in that regard.

Having waffled between pushing its short-form videos, called Reels, and de-prioritizing them in the algorithm, Instagram announced last week that it would no longer offer monetary bonuses to creators making Reels. This might be because of TikTok’s imminent ban. After all, the program was initially meant to convince TikTok creators to use Instagram—an issue that won’t be as pressing if TikTok users have no choice but to find another platform.


Alternatively, Snap is doing the opposite and luring creators with an ad revenue-sharing program. First launched in 2022, creators are now actively boasting about big earnings from the program, which provides 50% of ad revenue from videos. Snapchat is clearly still trying to win over users with new tech like its OpenAI chatbot, which it launched last month. But it's best bet to woo the TikTok crowd is through its new Sounds features, which suggest audio for different lenses and will match montage videos to a song’s rhythm. Audio clips are crucial to TikTok’s platform, so focusing on integrating songs into content will likely appeal to users looking to recreate that experience.


With its short-form ad revenue-sharing program, YouTube Shorts has already lured over TikTok creators. It's even gotten major stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift to promote music on Shorts. This is likely where YouTube has the best bet of taking TikTok’s audience. Since TikTok has become deeply intertwined with the music industry, Shorts might be primed to take its spot. And with its new feature that creates compiles all the videos using a specific song, Shorts is likely hoping to capture musicians looking to promote their work.


The most blatant attempt at seducing TikTok users, however, comes from Triller, which launched a portal for people to move their videos from TikTok to its platform. It’s simple, but likely the most effective tactic—and one that other short-form video platforms should try to replicate. With TikTok users worried about losing their backlog of content, this not only lets users archive but also bolsters Triller’s content offerings. The problem, of course, is that Triller isn’t nearly as well known as the other platforms also trying to capture TikTok users. Still, those who are in the know will likely find this option easier than manually re-uploading content to other sites.

It's likely that many of these platforms will see a momentary boost if the TikTok ban goes through. But all of these companies need to ensure that users coming from TikTok actually stay on their platforms. Considering that they have already been upended by one newcomer when TikTok took over, there’s good reason to believe that a new app could come in and swoop up TikTok’s user base. As of right now, it's unclear who will come out on top. But the true loser is the user who has to adhere to the everyday whims of each of these platforms.


We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said

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.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said
Evan Xie

According to Pew Research data, 27% of Americans interact with AI on a daily basis. With the launch of Open AI’s latest language model GPT-4, we asked our readers how they use AI in a professional capacity. Here’s what they told us:

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