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Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.
Between a distinguished career as a U.S. Navy officer and various roles at IT and cybersecurity firms, Glen Day became the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ first chief privacy officer in 2002—a role tasked with overseeing HIPAA compliance for over a million medical patients.
At the time, governments and businesses alike were only beginning to understand the importance of privacy in a budding technological world, where data still straddled both analog and digital realms. Two decades later, the evolution of data storage and the cloud have turned companies into data hoarders. As a result, security breaches have become more sophisticated, and privacy compliance—from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation rules to California’s “right to be forgotten” law—has only increased.
“When you see companies dealing with these new ransomware attacks, it is a clear indicator that they've lost control of their data,” Day told dot.LA.
In 2018, Day founded NVISIONx, a Santa Monica-based cybersecurity startup that unveiled a $4.6 million seed funding round on Thursday. Boston-based Companyon Ventures led the round and was joined by investors Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, SixThirty Ventures, Gutbrain Ventures, PBJ Capital and CreativeCo Capital.
NVISIONx founder Glen Day.
NVISIONx “data risk intelligence” platform manages data storage and protection for enterprise clients, with the goal of helping them avoid cybersecurity breaches that could lead to regulatory fines or the loss of intellectual property. The startup has already garnered a handful of major corporate clients—most notably Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, as well as San Diego-based fleet management software provider Platform Science.
NVISIONx’s platform examines every piece of data in a company’s repository, and takes stock of what is outdated and what is valuable and needs to be protected. The program then assesses who owns the valuable data, looks at what protocols are in place to protect it, and makes sure those protections are in line with federal, state and international compliance regulations.
Day said he was inspired by his work at accounting giant Ernst and Young. There, he oversaw cybersecurity and intellectual property protections for companies like Nike, Qualcomm and Monster Energy, which would often have large databases filled with consumer information and unpatented intellectual property. Some companies would struggle to sift through large volumes of data to protect individuals’ privacy, which could then open them up to large fines if a security breach was discovered. Others had pieces of intellectual property or research and development data scattered across unprotected data containers, leaving them vulnerable to data leaks.
By getting rid of outdated or unnecessary data, Day said, companies can save millions of dollars on the security engineers and data storage costs often required to babysit large volumes of information. “When you purge the junk, not only does it reduce your compliance scope and reduce your attack surface—it also will save you millions on a recurring basis,” he said
The seed funding will go toward marketing costs, expanding NVISIONx’s technical offerings and integrations, and growing its sales team to garner more clients, Day added.
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Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
TikTok’s newest advertising program will allow brands to crowdsource content from creators.
Branded Mission, which the Culver City-based video-sharing app announced Wednesday, is currently being beta-tested. The program lets brands release briefs containing specific creative directions—such as incorporating a specific hashtag, visual effect or audio—with the goal of procuring videos that will become promoted ads. Creators with at least 1,000 followers will be compensated with cash payments if the content performs well.
Creators participating in the “authentic branded content” program, as TikTok described it, can choose which brand initiatives they wish to participate in—with each Branded Mission “page” highlighting details like how much money a creator could potentially receive for participating. TikTok told Business Insider that it’s testing various payment models, including a first-come, first-serve model as well as “boosted traffic” compensation.
“Creators are at the center of creativity, culture and entertainment on TikTok,” the social media firm said in a statement. “With Branded Mission, we're excited to bring even more creators into the branded content ecosystem and explore ways to reward emerging and established creators.”
TikTok’s previous advertising strategies have relied on creators with large followings, with the recently announced TikTok Pulse targeting users with at least 100,000 followers. Branded Mission, on the other hand, gives creators with smaller platforms a chance to make more revenue beyond programs like TikTok’s Creator Fund.
The pandemic highlighted what’s been a growing trend for years: Medical students are prioritizing high-paying specialty fields over primary care, leading to a shortage of primary care doctors who take care of a patient’s day-to-day health concerns. These physicians are a cornerstone of preventative health care, which when addressed can lower health care costs for patients, insurers and the government. But there’s a massive shortage of doctors all over the country, and the pipeline for primary care physicians is even weaker.
One local startup is offering a possible answer to this supply squeeze: nurse practitioners.
On Wednesday, Manhattan Beach-based Greater Good Health unveiled $10 million in new funding led by LRVHealth, adding to $3 million in seed funding raised by the startup last year. The company employs nurse practitioners and pairs them with doctor’s offices and medical clinics; this allows nurse practitioners to take on patients who would otherwise have to wait weeks, or even months, to see a doctor.
“This access and equity issue is just going to become more pervasive if we don't do things to help people gain more access,” Greater Good founder and CEO Sylvia Hastanan told dot.LA. “We need more providers to offer more patients appointments and access to their time to take care of their needs. And in order to do that, we really need to think about the workforce.”
There has been a growing movement in the medical industry to use nurse practitioners in place of increasingly scarce primary care physicians. California passed a law in 2020 that will widen the scope of nurse practitioners and allow them to operate without a supervising physician by 2023. Amid a shortage of doctors, there’s also the question of what will become of the largest and longest-living elderly population in recent history, Baby Boomers. Public health officials are already scrambling for ways to take care of this aging demographic’s myriad health needs while also addressing the general population.
“By the time you and I get old enough where we need primary care providers to help us with our ailments and chronic conditions, there aren't [going to be] enough of them,” Hastanan said. “And/or there just isn't going to be enough support for those nurse practitioners to really thrive in that way. And I worry about what our system will look like.”
Nurse practitioners function much like doctors do—they can monitor vitals, diagnose patients, and, in some cases, prescribe medication (though usually under the supervision of a doctor). Nurse practitioners need to get either a master’s degree or higher in nursing and complete thousands of hours of work in a clinical setting. All told, it usually takes six-to-eight years to become a nurse practitioner, compared to 10-to-15 years to become a practicing physician.
Greater Good Health’s platform puts nurse practitioners in often years-long care settings where they manage patients—most of whom are chronically ill, high-risk patients that need to be seen regularly and thoroughly. This allows them to follow up more carefully on patients they have managed for years, instead of catching up on a new patient’s history and treating them in the moment. Patients, meanwhile, don’t have to see a rotating door of clinicians and can talk to a provider they already have an established rapport with.
The one-year-old startup will use the funding to provide learning and development opportunities for its nurse practitioners and also connect them with each other through virtual support groups. Burnout has been an issue across health care during the pandemic, spurring an exodus of nursing and support staff and leaving health care facilities woefully understaffed. Greater Good hopes that keeping nurse practitioners in more stable, years-long care situations and offering them career development opportunities will help retain them and keep them in the workforce longer.
“We want them to be well-rounded and balanced both in work and life, and we see that returns us healthier, more engaged and ready nurse practitioners,” Hastanan said.
On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Amanda Groves talks about how PLUS Capital advises celebrity investors and why more high-profile individuals are choosing to invest instead of endorse.
As a partner at PLUS, Groves works with over 70 artists and athletes, helping to guide their investment strategies. PLUS advises their talent roster to combine their financial capital with their social capital and focus on five investment areas: the future of work, future of education, health and wellness, the conscious consumer and sustainability.
“The idea is if we can leverage these people who have incredible audiences—and influence over that audience—in the world of venture capital, you'd be able to help make those businesses move forward faster,” Groves said.
PLUS works to create celebrity partnerships by identifying each client’s passions and finding companies that align with them, Groves said. From there, the venture firm can reach out to prospective partners from its many contacts and can help evaluate businesses that approach its clients. Recently, PLUS paired actress Nina Dobrev with the candy company SmartSweets after she had told them about her love for its snacks.
Celebrity entrepreneurship has shifted quite a bit in recent years, Groves said. While celebrities are paid for endorsements, Groves said investing allows them to gain equity from the growth of companies that benefit from their work.
“Like in movies, for example, where they're earning a residual along the way, they thought, ‘You know, if we're going to partner with these brands and create a tremendous amount of enterprise value, we should be able to capture some of the upside that we're generating, too’,” she said.
Partnering in this way also allows her clients to work with a wider range of brands, including small brands that often can’t afford to spend millions on endorsements. Investing allows high-profile individuals to represent brands they care about, Groves said.
“The last piece of the puzzle was a drive towards authenticity,” Groves said. “A lot of these high-profile artists and athletes are not interested, once they've achieved some sort of level of success, in partnering with brands that they don't personally align with.”
dot.LA Editorial Intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.