Warehouse from Outer, Trucks From Clutter, Logistics From Well Health. How L.A. Startups Are Collaborating to Get Aid To Local Hospitals

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Warehouse from Outer, Trucks From Clutter, Logistics From Well Health. How L.A. Startups Are Collaborating to Get Aid To Local Hospitals

Jiake Liu is the founder of a startup outdoor furniture company, but lately he feels like he's running a second company one that's helping supply local hospitals with thousands of protective masks and, in the process, rallying Los Angeles' tech community.

Liu started SoCal Tech for Hospitals in early March with the goal of raising $60,000 to purchase 30,000 masks for hospitals facing shortages. He's now helped raise nearly $200,000, delivered 50,000 hospital-grade masks and is looking to up the ante with the region's vast tech community to do good beyond the pandemic.


Over the past months, he's enrolled some of the most well-known startups in town to pitch in for the logistical effort of distributing the masks. After the workday ends, Liu jumps on the phone with other founders to orchestrate the effort.

"We are really able to leverage everyone's expertise," he said. "It really is the spirit of entrepreneurship. You don't necessarily have the right answers. But you come to figure things out."

His own company, Outer, uses their warehouse to store palettes of masks he's helped procure. Trucks from on-demand storage company Clutter distribute the medical supplies. While, Well Health pitches in by gauging the needs at local hospitals. Others, like the head of the rental furniture company Fernish rally venture capital donations.

Early on Liu found that venture capital firms had already been bombarded with requests for donations, but his pitch was that this effort would benefit local hospitals and was different.

"We are really the only group that's like 'let's really reach the L.A. tech community,'" he said. "If you work in L.A. tech you should donate to us. It was a call to action."

It got attention. He's pulled in donations from some of the region's top firms including Wonder Ventures, GreyCroft, Upfront Ventures. He also pulled in donations from the online coupon cutter Honey Science Corp. and carpet seller Ruggable. dot.LA is also a contributor. In return, companies get a shout out on their website.

Among the hospitals that have received the masks are Adventist Health Glendale, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Dignity Health - California Hospital Medical Center, Pomona Valley Medical Center, St. Francis Medical Center, LA+USC Medical Center, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, White Memorial Community Health Center, Harbor UCLA Medical Center and Olive View UCLA Medical Center.

Liu began the effort because a doctor couple he knew that worked at Cedars Sinai Medical Center were worried about the supply of masks, so he started a GoFundMe page.

"When I started, I just wanted to get masks for my friends, but as I started talking to folks and getting a sense of the desire to do good," he said.

Someone at the location data software company Factual saw the page and introduced Liu to the nonprofit the Count On Me Family Foundation, which is now handling the funds.

Liu's next goal is to hit $250,000 in donations, but he has a larger one. With non-profit LA-Tech.org recently joining the effort, he's looking at ways to keep the momentum going beyond the pandemic.

"Now that we have attention of the tech community, the question is can we diverge some of the energy that we captured to continue to do good?"

Editor's note: dot.LA is a contributor to the fund.

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Santa Monica-Based Scooter Startup Veo Expands Into the City of LA

Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Veo
Image courtesy of Veo

Three months after opening its new headquarters in Santa Monica, micromobility startup Veo is expanding its fleet and its footprint. As of last week, riders have been able to cross the municipal boundary between Santa Monica and L.A. and take trips north to Will Rogers State Beach, south to Marina Del Rey and east to Mar Vista.

“It’s good to see more people able to actually commute from Santa Monica to a nearby neighborhood…because in the past, we [did] see a lot of people stopped at the boundary,” said Veo CEO Candice Xie.

A screenshot shows Veo scooters' new availability on the west side of the city of L.A.

Still, riders will not be able to ride all through the city of L.A. The city of L.A. has only granted them permits for 500 vehicles. Xie said they’re focusing on expanding the boundaries of where their mostly Santa Monica-based users are already indicating they want to ride.

As part of the expansion, the company is adding a mixed fleet of 400 e-bikes and 100 standing scooters.

Enterprising riders who venture beyond the new, expanded geofenced zone can expect to receive a warning text message and for their vehicle to come to a slow stop. In addition, they will not be allowed to leave the e-scooter or e-bike outside of the zone without incurring a penalty that starts at $15.

Currently, it costs riders $1 to unlock and $0.33 cents per minute to ride (plus tax and fees). Residents of Santa Monica and Los Angeles who qualify can apply to ride at a reduced rate through Veo Access, where riders pay $5 per month for unlimited 30 minute rides.

Xie said that the permit approval process for the city of L.A. took longer than originally anticipated and that this new expansion will happen in phases, with the next phase anticipated in two to three months.

Veo is the seventh micromobility operator currently permitted in the city of Los Angeles, joining rivals Bird, Lime, Wheels, LINK (Superpedestrian), Lyft and Spin.

Veo’s expansion comes at a precarious time for the shared micromobility market. Earlier this month, Santa Monica-based Bird laid off 23% of its staff. Layoffs were also reported at both Superpedestrian and Voi this week.

However, Xie said that Veo is doubling down on both the greater L.A. area and California as a whole, with recent launches in Berkeley and Santa Clara. As other companies lay off workers in pursuit of profitability, Xie said Veo is expanding.

“We're still hiring from the community and want to increase our exposure and also have more local talent join us.”

Snap Launches Accelerator To Support Black Creators

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.

Snap Launches Accelerator To Support Black Creators

Social media giant Snap is launching an accelerator program to support emerging Black creators.

The Santa Monica-based company announced Thursday that it will pay 25 selected applicants $10,000 per month for one year. The creators will get to beta-test new features and receive mentorship to help them succeed on the Snapchat platform.

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Disney Patents ‘Robot Sherpas’ to Carry Your Belongings Around the Park

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He 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 at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Disney Patents ‘Robot Sherpas’ to Carry Your Belongings Around the Park
Photo: Decerry Donato

Move over, WALL-E: Guests at Walt Disney’s parks could soon use robotic lockers that follow them around the venue to carry their belongings.

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