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.
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.”
The retro-style video game follows Moses’ journey along the River Nile to Mount Sinai, highlighting central moments in the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. As users adventure through the Exodus story, they must complete different challenges, including “Tetris”-like puzzles and hand-to-hand fights with ancient Egyptians.
Money generated from in-app advertisements and donations goes to Oxfam America’s Syria and Refugee Crisis Response Fund. Vu said he hopes Moses’ historic role as a shepherd of refugees and central figure of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will inspire game players to donate.
“The story is timeless,” he said.
Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-South Bay, wants to remind the California Legislature that the biggest industry in California isn’t entertainment or agriculture – it’s aerospace.
“Aerospace, in terms of gross domestic product, exceeds even that of the entertainment and agricultural industries combined,” he said. “It’s one of California’s biggest sources of jobs; over 200,000 Californians are directly employed in this industry.”
With that data in mind, Muratsuchi said it’s time for the industry to have a bigger voice in Sacramento. The lawmaker introduced a bill, AB 427, to the Assembly last month to form the California Aerospace Commission, an industry council that would advise the state government on policy.
“It will be a bully pulpit for bringing together the private sector as well as government leadership to make policy recommendations to the governor and Legislature,” he said. “The commission would be made up of leaders from the aerospace companies.”
Muratsuchi said the state already has the California Travel and Tourism Commission and California Film Commission, so it would make sense for the aerospace industry to have a similar body.
“The South Bay was built on the aerospace industry,” he said. “We need to continue to build on this proud history and legacy.”
Staff Reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 549-5225, ext. 232.