Telemedicine startup iExhale has closed a $1.86 million seed round led by New York family office Dorilton Capital, according to a statement released last week.

The downtown company has developed a platform, also called iExhale, with a directory of therapists available for over-the-phone therapy sessions. Patients can consult with a therapist for free for 48 hours using the app’s messaging feature before selecting someone to conduct paid sessions.

“Finding a therapist is very difficult, so we tried to limit the barrier to entry,” said Aaron Robin, iExhale’s chief executive. “Wouldn’t it be nice if I can speak to somebody at an affordable rate at my convenience about something that is very small or something that is very large?”

IExhale charges $65 for a 45-minute phone session with a therapist. All of the sessions are conducted over an encrypted phone line, and the app is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Robin said.

The app launched in December to California residents only, though the company has plans to make it available in other states soon.

Therapists on the app are certified and licensed psychologists, and go through an interview process, according to iExhale. The company has 18 therapists listed and plans to add more in the upcoming months.

“Recent studies have shown that telemedicine is just as effective as (in-person) therapy,” Robin said.

IExhale plans to add a video-chat feature to the app, though Robin said video-streaming technology still suffers too many interruptions to be used for therapy sessions.

He noted the app’s target consumers are those with common conditions such as anxiety and depression – issues that impact significant portions of the population.

“There is this huge area in the market where people really want help,” Robin said.

Refugee Relief

Khoa Vu is familiar with the refugee experience.

He said his parents and siblings fled Vietnam in the late 1970s, cutting through jungle brush, evading the Viet Cong, and taking shelter in a Malaysian refugee camp before eventually landing in the United States.

Vu and his brother Chinh, co-founders of Pasadena education software company Ayotree, are drawing on their family’s story as motivation to help refugees streaming out of war-torn Syria. The brothers have developed a mobile game called “Moses the Freedom Fighter” to raise money for Oxfam America’s refugee efforts in the Middle East. The game launched last month.

“One of the stories that our parents told us, that we always thought was cool, was the story of Moses,” said Vu. “The things that are happening now are no different from back then.”

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