Immediate access to mental health treatment is often hindered by a lack of resources, long wait times, and stigma associated with seeking help. These barriers prevent timely intervention and exacerbate mental health conditions, emphasizing the pressing need for improved accessibility.
Enter Rootd — a rapidly growing mental health startup that’s developed the #1 ranked mobile app on Android and iOS for individuals struggling with panic attacks and anxiety.
The Victoria startup’s comprehensive mental health app — which boasts an impressive 2 million users across 150 countries — provides users with various tools and resources, including guided breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, educational content, and customizable plans to effectively tackle anxiety. It empowers users to understand and address their anxiety symptoms in real-time, fostering a sense of control and resilience in managing their mental health challenges.
Rootd provides an innovative approach to mental health support, especially in an era where mental health concerns are widespread and growing. By offering accessible and user-friendly tools through their app, Rootd helps individuals gain vital skills to cope with anxiety and panic attacks, promoting overall mental well-being and enhancing daily functioning.
Rootd competed in back-to-back New Ventures BC Competitions, securing $20,000 in prize money by winning both the $10,000 Innovate BC Social Venture Prize and the $10,000 Innovate BC Woman-Led Venture Award. Founder and CEO, Ania Wysocka, has bootstrapped the company — with no employees — and positioned Rootd as a global leader in the mental health space.
We sat down with Ania to learn more about her competition experience and the impact the Rootd app has had on millions of people across the globe.
It’s been a few years since Rootd last competed in the New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC. What have you been up to during that time?
It’s been a whirlwind few years for sure.
Our app hit some significant milestones, including being recognized as an “Editor’s Choice” app on the App Store, surpassing 2 million downloads, and generating more than 50,000 user reviews. Our efforts were even recognized by Google Play, who produced a developer spotlight video on us.
In line with our strategic evolution, we expanded our focus beyond B2C to actively engage with B2B clients. Our collaboration with one of North America’s leading healthcare enterprises further validated our solution and has given us an incredible opportunity to make mental health support more widely accessible.
I’m sure there’s more I’m missing, but these are some really fond memories that stand out.
Rootd competed in both the 2020 and 2021 Competitions. What was it like going through the process a second time?
The second time around felt a bit easier, though still a bit daunting. Having been through it once, we had a much better idea of what to expect, which definitely helped. We came in with a clear picture of what we wanted to tweak and enhance from the previous year.
It was a lot of hard work, but it was also incredibly satisfying. Making those updates and improvements while looking back at how far our Rootd had come over the past year was a proud moment. It’s all part of the fun, the growth, and the ever-evolving journey we’re on.
You’ve bootstrapped to more than 2 million users, across 150 countries, with no employees and investors. What are some of the things you’ve learned as you’ve built and scaled your company?
There’s so much to tell! I’ve been fortunate to be a guest on some great podcasts, including one I did with RevenueCat that dives into my experience of bootstrapping Rootd without funding, employees, or learning to code.
I’d say some of the things that have served me best over the journey are:
- Having a deep understanding of the problem I’m solving — and a passion for working on it.
- Taking action without overplanning. A lot of things I might not have expected were possible have come to fruition because I took the leap of sending that cold email, or asking that “scary” question, or trying something even if the outcome was uncertain.
When Rootd launched in 2019, there weren’t many mobile solutions or support systems for mental health. This created a significant market opportunity, not only to provide valuable and needed support, but to also grow and scale the company. Do you feel like you launched Rootd at the perfect time?
The best time would have been if Rootd somehow existed before I experienced my first panic attack! But yes, launching when we did worked well, and it meant we were able to support a lot of people in need during COVID lockdowns, and that we’ve had more and more time to evolve and improve.
Victoria’s tech sector is booming and offers a wide range of support systems — funders, accelerators, mentors, community, etc. — that contributes to a company’s growth. What local resources have you tapped into to grow your business?
I’ve participated in several BC-based initiatives and award programs, including the New Ventures BC Competition, Campbell River Area Angel Group’s (CRAAG) Nexstream Tech Competition, and BCBusiness’ 30 under 30 Awards.
What I’ve been most involved with recently is networking with local founders. Even if I’m not directly working on my business during those conversations, I find it really valuable to foster those friendships, especially as a lot of my work is done on my own. Outside of that, I do a ton of my learning online, either through Google or scheduling calls via cold reachout with people working in areas I want to explore.
What do the next 12 months look like for Rootd?
Our focus is to continue expanding our B2B support by reaching out to more organizations and helping them foster better mental health in their employees. Simultaneously, we’re excited about our commitment to supporting millions of more individual users and extending our reach and impact in the mental health space.
We also have some exciting experiments in the pipeline — including one with Apple Vision Pro — that we can share more about the next time we chat!