Minnesota twins raise $ 3 million to increase accessibility to care for the disabled – TechCrunch


Having a loved one with specialized care needs is incredibly challenging, but it is not something that people who have never had to deal with the problem necessarily fully understand.

For anyone who has had to help care for someone with special needs, the lack of options for navigating and finding access to care providers is almost shocking.

Twin sisters Melanie Fountaine and Melissa Danielsen knows the problem firsthand, having She helped care for her brother, who had a developmental disability and severe epilepsy, for years.

“We saw our family’s struggle to find reliable care,” Danielsen told TechCrunch.

After he passed away 12 years ago at the age of 29, the siblings decided they wanted to dedicate their careers to making disability care accessible to families with complex care needs. They founded Josh’s Place, a business that provided group home accommodations and other services to adults in Minnesota, which ended up being acquired by REM Minnesota in early 2020.

Then the couple came up with the concept behind Joshi, a digital care platform that aims to connect care providers with families with specialized care needs. (Both companies were named after the sisters’ brother, whose name was Josh.) And today, that startup announces that it has closed an initial round of $ 3 million funding co-led by Anthemis Group and The Autism Impact Fund.

Joshin started out as an app that creates a plan of care that helps you connect families with a “carefully vetted” trained caregiver. It has evolved to also include a corporate benefits program with Joshin partnering with companies that want to offer an inclusive care benefit to their employees.

Image credits: Joshi

It is estimated that one in five families have complex health needs, ranging from children with neurodivergence to dependent adults with physical and developmental disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the need for support, making it even more difficult to find the necessary care. As such, many people (most of whom are women) find they have to quit their jobs to become full-time caregivers.

“For too long, people with special health care needs and their families have been underserved and have had fragmented access to disability care providers,” said Executive Director Danielsen.

Chief Operating Officer Fountaine says Historically, the care economy has focused on children under 12 or adults over 65: childcare and elderly, respectively.

“Joshin is really positioned to be the leader in that huge age gap that exists,” he said. “We work with people in all stages of life and I think it is a shame that until now that was not in the conversation.

The company plans to use its new capital in part to grow its network of care providers. It also aims to expand its corporate benefits program.

“We continue to expand our technology to reduce the burden of caregiving responsibilities for employees and their families,” added Danielsen.

Over the past 12 months, Joshin’s community of members and caregivers has grown by 200%. With the new funding, the startup plans to expand its services to Los Angeles and Seattle. It is currently operational out of its base of operations in Minneapolis, Minn., Chicago and New York City. Joshin will have a soft launch in 8 new markets over the next few weeks and expects to “go national very soon,” Fountaine said.

The commissioning is beginning with employers and accumulating the data derived from that effort. Over the next year, he intends to partner with Medicaid managed organizations and both public and private insurance companies so they “can get families access to this care, quickly,” Danielsen said.

“Our goal is to do this so that quality care is free for families in need,” he told TechCrunch.

Chris Male, co-founder of the Autism Impact Fund, said his organization supports businesses that address the unmet needs of the autism community. Finding, retaining and coordinating care are three of the biggest obstacles that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families face, according to Male.

“Joshin has a proven ability to provide a trusted means of recruiting caregivers with diverse skill sets and potential to serve as a platform to streamline access to a variety of critical but highly fragmented services for the special needs community,” he said. “Given the current landscape of insurance payers and the employer’s emphasis on DEI, Joshin is not only making a strong impact for a large disability market, but it is a monetizable opportunity as a reimbursable service and as an employee benefit.”

By partnering with employers, Male added, Joshin will help provide a supportive environment that will allow “employees to quickly and easily access key resources and thus minimize downtime. “

Anthemis Managing Director Matthew Jones said his firm doubled its startup investment because he saw its founders as “one of the strongest examples of the founder market.” (Anthemis also led the company’s $ 1.6 million funding round in July 2020.)

The progress they have made since our last investment, along with the information they have collected, led us to believe that doubling in this round was a no-brainer, ”he told TechCrunch.

Additionally, the complexity of building technology in space “makes the barriers to entry very high,” Jones added.

“The value of the team, combined with their understanding of the issues and opportunities associated with disability-related care, sets Joshin apart,” he wrote by email. “No other platform comes close in terms of having such specialized leaders at the helm, so it’s no wonder companies are lining up to add Joshin to their list of employee benefits.”


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