Column: Investing in Technology and a Vision to Strengthen LA's Social Net

Tony Greco, PsyD

Dr. Tony Greco is CEO and Founder of Get Help, licensed clinical psychologist, and author, with over 20 years of experience working with addiction and severe mental illness.

He served on the Los Angeles County Psychological Association Board and Chaired the LACPA Early Career Psychologist Committee.

Dr. Greco earned his undergraduate degree in Business Management from Pepperdine University.

Prior to earning a doctorate in psychology Tony was Vice President of Business Development at a hospital detoxification and treatment program, expanding operations and programs. He worked as a business consultant in the treatment industry, writing program materials, and working with treatment executives to develop programs.

He was a manager of citywide conventions, conferences, meetings, and other events, in the non-profit and political sectors, including international twelve-step conferences, gubernatorial campaigns, and was liaison to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama during an official visit to California.

Tony is an advocate in the LGBT community, active member of a twelve-step community and church ministries that work with the homeless and addicted.

Column: Investing in Technology and a Vision to Strengthen LA's Social Net

Before there were gas stations, roadways or traffic lights, people really couldn't drive their cars very much, or far. It took a while for momentum to build and create the pull for new services. During that time there were people who were just trying to get others to not use their horse.

Even with the technological advances we've seen in the last century, the pathway to recovery still involves jumping on your horse and going a quarter mile down the road.

I tell people all the time, as a psychologist and the founder of a tech company creating solutions to help people find treatment: There is a moment when someone decides they want help. When we come to it, we are filled with the simultaneous feeling of relief and dread. Relief that the person finally wants help, and dread about where to start and how to find them the right place in the brief window of time that desire to get help exists.

That is the window I've been dedicated to decreasing.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Mental Health Nonprofits and Their Struggles

When someone gets or makes that call for help in the mental health industry, there are countless directories, resource guides, websites and other attempts to capture both real-time information and basic essential information on resources.

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), estimates that since COVID began, calls to their 800 number hotline have increased 1,000%. Yes, that's one thousand percent.

What do the people answering those calls depend on for their information? A postcard that is mailed out to facilities once a year and (hopefully) mailed back to SAMHSA. That's what they use to update their database. Many great organizations are often not listed or are out of date, duplicated or out of business when they are. Many of the providers I talk to don't remember ever getting that postcard.

They aren't the only government system that attempts to catalog this information. There are so many disparate, disjointed systems, it's impossible to properly inventory all of them. For example, the state of California has invested significantly in a system called the Service and Bed Availability Tool (SBAT). Any substance use disorder program receiving state or federal funding is required to update the system each day at a certain time of day. They need to do this manually, by either calling or by logging in to a portal and updating the information. Each SBAT system is managed separately by each county in the state. The data is not shared. Not with us, not with SAMHSA, and not with any other of the countless systems, databases or hotlines trying to get people help.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County's homeless authority has their own "real-time bed availability system." The city of Los Angeles, too, dedicates some of their funding (both government and philanthropic) to creating a paper resource directory of available beds.

Non-government funded homeless shelters such as the Union Rescue Mission and recovery houses such as Awakening Recovery that also provide beds, can't be found in any of these systems because they do not receive government funding.

None of these systems are integrated with one another, all require a manual process of counting beds and updating a system, and none of it is anything a clinician in the public can easily or readily access.

How is a person making that midnight call to find someone help supposed to navigate all this? They can't.

It's not just a problem for those trying to solve homelessness. This happens amongst many programs and services across the county — and that same inefficiency, lack of coordination and miscommunication is replicated across the state and country.

Solving the Same Problem Again and Again

Even within this single space within a much larger industry there are nonprofit organizations competing with private enterprises for funding and resources, none of which are truly cooperating with one another. The for-profit, philanthropic and public businesses rarely cooperate. In fact, there are barriers to interact.

A hodgepodge of investors find themselves investing in an industry that desperately needs disruption. Alongside them are philanthropists who donate to nonprofits because they don't want to "make money" off helping the homeless or people with mental illness. Both end up investing deeply in disconnected or uncoordinated ideas.

Many, if not most, recovery residences are still operating using pen-and-paper methods to intake patients, track bed inventory and communicate with one another. At best, some programs use Excel or Google Sheets to communicate, or they pay for overly sophisticated electronic medical record (EMR) systems that are designed for clinical programs tailored for government or insurance billing practices.

Their marketing practices are often word-of-mouth, since programs such as these cannot advertise, even if they could afford to do so, on platforms such as Google, which requires facilities advertising any type of addiction treatment to be certified (which is often too lengthy and costly for non-clinical programs to undergo).

The industry must, by necessity, be more concerned with their daily operations and keeping their organization operating — making sure investors and donors are happy (i.e., beds are filled and patients moving through the program) than on attention to standards and outcomes. Even this is done in a vacuum, with each program focusing on their own goals and protocols, without effectively or efficiently communicating with one another.

What gets lost in all of this is the patient needing services.

File:Homeboy Grocery Salsas.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsFile:Homeboy Grocery Salsas.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The New Models

We see innovation happening on a small scale, at the individual program or regional association levels.

There are nonprofits creating positive cash flow with their donation monies, building a food kitchen, incentivizing and employing people who go through their programs who need employment, coming from vulnerable backgrounds.

Look at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, which calls itself "the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world." Through their efforts they have created a bakery. Yes, rehabilitating gang members through bread making has turned into an industry of food chains, catering services and partnerships across the country. If you've been through LAX recently you've probably seen one of their restaurants.

These nonprofits are enterprising, opening and expanding business. They're organized as nonprofit hybrids that are breaking down the wall between nonprofit missions and private investment operations. They are partnering with other social enterprises and creating networks across the country and world.

The missing piece: connecting these organizations to one another, and giving professionals such as myself, and the public, access to find out more about them. We need these enterprises and programs connected in a platform that everyone can access.

A Post Pandemic World

What we are creating now is a new formula for success. In a post-pandemic era the need is greater than it's ever been.

The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) refers to this phenomenon as the "parallel pandemic," where we will see an increase in addiction overdose deaths and homelessness. "Saving lives endangered by addiction in the era of COVID-19 will take concerted leadership and a cross-systems approach," the consortium wrote in a report to the governor and Legislature.

Prior to the pandemic, Feeding America estimated that 1 in 7 Americans depended on a food pantry for weekly food. That number is only going to rise following the joblessness and homelessness resulting from the pandemic, while the means to locate and provide such services is just as difficult and disconnected as ever from other services and providers. Various nonprofits — again, all functioning and operating independently — and organizations such as are providing those services but are disconnected technologically from other search tools and engines.

A social worker would need to know where and how to access these services and provide that information to the individuals receiving services.

Photo by Dimi Katsavaris on Unsplash

Where Do We Go From Here?

We are seeing groups of people and organizations coming together now in new and unique ways. We are working with nonprofit organizations providing services, seeing those services get subsidized by philanthropic dollars, for technology that is backed by private investment dollars. All in the effort to get people off an oval track just going in circles, and onto a road, ultimately preparing them to drive down a superhighway that hasn't been built yet.

There is a nonprofit we are working with (can't mention the name yet), that received significant funding to create a digital resource directory. Rather than using that money to outsource technology developers to create a proprietary tool, we are partnering together, pooling our resources and sharing our technology to create something greater than the sum of our parts. Together, we are doing more than either of us could have done individually. This saves the nonprofit hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars paying for the creation and maintenance of the tools we'll need to work together.

It also allows us to combine our collective intelligence and expertise, and create an even better tool, maintain that tool, and benefit from the collective wisdom of other partners across the country, in other segments, serving different communities.

To realize this vision, we'll need to build new onramps for public, private, and philanthropic partnerships. We need money to pave that way for the impact we want to see. That is exactly what we are working on at GET HELP, with our partners and affiliates.

What we're planning and creating together is a new infrastructure. One that is built by visionary customers, entrepreneurs and the next generation of social impact investors. Amongst these are the next Rockefellers and Carnagies. They didn't build or invent the automobile, but they supplied and fueled the infrastructure that surrounded, supported and sustained it.

We are creating partnerships and affiliate programs with national and statewide associations such as CCAPP and the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR); with "feet on the street" organizations such as Hope through Soap in Atlanta, GA,; and with social-model recovery residence programs such as Awakening Recovery; and large homeless shelters and service providers such as House of Hope and the Weingart Center.

In addition, we are in collaborative conversations with seeming "competitors" in the private sector, where we are focused on the same vision: to raise the industry standards and improve the processes for collecting and sharing data.

It's better for everyone involved, including the ultimate beneficiary who may never know the work we are doing together to get help for them: The person suffering from mental health, addiction or homelessness.

What we — as the entrepreneurs and investors in the healthcare technology industry — are defining is a whole new infrastructure for a much longer journey to empowered recovery.

The question that we face on a daily basis is this: Who are the innovators both within the industry and without who are willing to invest time, effort and money into creating a new system?

Today, we see private automobiles driving on public roads --- those were built by public sector funds, and the public sector provides licensing and regulation. Using those models, we have to think broadly about sources of capital and how philanthropic, public and private companies can contribute to the journey.

Dr. Tony Greco is CEO and Founder of Get Help and a licensed clinical psychologist and author with over 20 years of experience working with addiction and severe mental illness.

🤫 The Secret to Staying Fit at Your Desk: 6 Essential Under-Desk Exercise Machines

Health experts are sounding the alarm: our sedentary jobs are slowly killing us, yet we can't abandon our desks if we want to keep the lights on. It feels like we're caught between a rock and a hard place. Enter under-desk exercise machines – the overlooked heroes (albeit kind of goofy looking) of the modern workspace. These devices let tech professionals stay active, enhance their health, and increase their productivity, all without stepping away from their screens. Here are 6 fantastic options that will enhance the way you work and workout simultaneously.

DeskCycle Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser

This bike has nearly ten thousand five-star reviews on amazon. It works with nearly any desk/chair setup. It is quiet, sturdy and allows up to 40 pounds of resistance. If you are looking for an under-desk bike this is a fantastic option.

Type: Under-Desk Bike

Price: $180 - $200

Sunny Health & Fitness Dual Function Under Desk Pedal Exerciser

This under-desk bike is extremely quiet due to the magnetic resistance making it an ideal option if you work in a shared space. It doesn’t slip, has eight levels of resistance, and the option to work legs and arms. It’s about half the price of the DeskCycle bike making it a solid mid-range option for those looking to increase their daily activity.

Type: Under-Desk Bike

Price: $100 - $110

Sunny Health & Fitness Sitting Under Desk Elliptical

This under-desk elliptical comes in multiple colors if you really want to underscore that you are a quirky individual, in case an under-desk elliptical isn’t enough. This model is a bit heavy (very sturdy), has eight different resistance levels, and has more than nine thousand 5-star reviews.

Type: Under-Desk Elliptical

Price: $120 - $230

DeskCycle Ellipse Leg Exerciser

This under-desk elliptical is another great option. It is a bit pricey but it’s quiet, well-made and has eight resistance levels. It also syncs with your apple watch or fitbit which is a very large perk for those office-wide “step” challenges. Get ready to win.

Type: Under-Desk Elliptical

Price: $220 - $230

Daeyegim Quiet LED Remote Treadmill

If you have a standing desk and are looking to walk and work this is a fantastic option. This walking-only treadmill allows you to walk between 0.5 to 5 mph (or jog unless you have the stride length of an NBA forward). It is very quiet, which is perfect if you want to use it near others or during a meeting. You can’t change the incline or fold it in half but it is great for simply getting in some extra steps during the work day.

Type: Under-Desk Treadmill

Price: $220 - $230

Sunny Health & Fitness Foldable Manual Treadmill

This under-desk treadmill isn’t the most premium model but it is affordable and has an impressive array of features. It is a manual treadmill meaning it doesn’t need to be plugged in; it is foldable and offers an incline up to 13%. I personally can’t imagine working and walking up a 13% incline but if that sounds like your cup of tea, then I truly respect the hustle.

Type: Under-Desk Treadmill

Price: $150 - $200

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🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures

🔦 Spotlight

Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

LA Venture Funds

LA Exits

  • Penguin Random House agreed to acquire comic book publisher Boom! Studios from backers like Walt Disney Co. - learn more

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Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.

Techstars Los Angeles

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

Location: Culver City

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

Location: DTLA

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Industry Agnostic, AI/Robotics, Consumer, Clean Energy

Notable Past Companies: Lumin, Coinbase, Tenor

Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Industry Agnostic, Connection to South LA and related communities

Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo

Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage, convertible note

Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect

MedTech Innovator

MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

Location: East Hollywood

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health

Disney Accelerator

Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Technology and entertainment

Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP

Techstars Space Accelerator

Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Aerospace

Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space

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