Twin Sisters Launch On-Demand Day-Care App For Special Needs Loved Ones
Melissa Danielsen and Melanie Fountaine launched a drop-in day-care center for special needs loved ones after they lost their brother, a special needs person. It gave the twin sisters a chance to be a continuing part of a community they loved.
Over the years, they realized, however, that their operation served only their Twin Cities community. They hoped to help many more people in their national and global communities. Recently, they formed a new company and launched an app–called Joshin after their brother Josh–to find qualified and vetted on-demand care for people with special needs–about 70 percent of whom are on the autism spectrum.
Today, the app serves only the Twin Cities but they are hoping to expand quickly and are trying to identify the best next market.
Interview with Melissa Danielsen, the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer and Melanie Fountaine, the Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer of Joshin.
Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
Revenue model: For profit, customers subscribe and pay for joymaker hours
Scale: Post revenue generation, beta. App officially launched 2/27/2019
What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?
Families that have children with disabilities have difficulty finding qualified caregivers, this service leverages technology to give families with disabilities the same on-demand access to care, and is the first-of-its kind to offer this service.
More about Joshin:
Joshin is a technology company devoted to special needs and disabilities care. It is the only disability care app that connects parents of children with special needs to qualified, vetted, specially trained caregivers.
Melissa Danielsen’s bio:
Growing up, Melissa knew her life was special. Early on, she was shaped by being a twin, having a brother with special needs and a unique connection to a strong work ethic growing up on their family farm. Melissa, always curious and creative, often wondered what she could do to make it a better place.
Melissa completed her undergraduate studies in Mass Communications and International Studies. She studied in Hawaii and in Europe learning about different cultures and history, while extensively travelling. These experiences continued to pique Melissa’s curiosity of the world and was fascinated about how her experiences could bring new ideas to her everyday life in her home state of Minnesota.
During her career in Marketing and Sales with Fortune 100 and 500 companies, Melissa lost her brother. The heartbreak shifted her priorities and created a desire to do more. At age 28, Melissa and twin sister Melanie co-founded Josh’s place -a service organization for adults with disabilities in Minnesota. Through her work with Josh’s Place and being parents to young children, she realized that there was an unmet need for families who have children with special needs -they more than anyone else, needed on-demand care. This inspired the driven duo to create an app-based service and Joshin was born. The company carries on the spirit of Josh’s resiliency, adventure and joy.
As CEO of Joshin, Melissa oversees operations and strategic direction, while leading brand development, marketing and sales. Melissa is passionate about building a brand that connects to each person’s unique story. One of her key goals is to intentionally build a company culture where employees understand their role in the overall company mission.
Dedicated to constant personal growth, Melissa is working toward her MBA and earning coursework credits at Harvard Business School Online. A self-proclaimed yogi, Melissa believes in the power yoga and meditation has on mental health and overall personal well-being. She co-created an internal Social Good Program that encourages volunteerism and community involvement while also serving as a board member and volunteering at various organizations. Melissa considers people as their own eco-system and believes in uncovering true passion and connecting it to a greater good.
Melanie Fountaine’s bio:
Counselor and Special Needs Advocate, Melanie Fountaine has dedicated her life and career to support individuals with disabilities and mental health needs. Her natural talent is empathy, further honed from the daily challenges she lived first-hand in her own family experience as a sibling with special needs.
An expert in youth counseling and development, Melanie has worked tirelessly with children and teens to find success and joy in the midst of adversity and life’s challenges. A school counselor for 8 years, Melanie worked extensively with a special education district in her home state of Minnesota to improve the academic success of special education students while providing support to parents of children with Autism.
As the Chief Development Officer for Joshin, Melanie is in charge of developing the Joshin care program, including training “Joymakers” (caregivers) with specific and personalized techniques and skills which are relevant to working with people with disabilities and special needs. Ensuring a culture that’s intentionally focused on the business of joy is a top goal for Melanie and she takes great pride in developing strategies that prioritize self-care for employees.
One of the biggest lessons that Melanie learned from her brother Josh who had special needs and working with other special needs families throughout her career is that the human spirit is truly limitless. Even in the face of significant hardships and physical challenges, Josh never lost his sense of humor and his happiness with his family. Melanie is helping Josh’s spirit of joy live on through Joshin’s mission – by serving people with disabilities and their families with the first-ever disabilities care app – to create many more moments of joy.
In addition to Joshin, Melanie’s passion of supporting people in their personal growth and development resulted in co-founding Josh’s Place, disability services and group homes throughout the state of Minnesota.
Being on the cusp of relevant research and data is of significant importance to Melanie. When she’s not at an Indie concert, you can find Melanie perusing Psychological research or spending time outdoors being grounded by nature. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with the goal to complete her Doctorate in Psychology degree by 2026. She has previously served as a mentor and volunteer for the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation and The Arc Minnesota.
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