Home » Episode #506: Breaking Panic Attack Barriers-Ania Wysocka on Rootd and Mental Health Awareness

Ania Wysocka experienced her first panic attack during university which subsequently set off a spiral of fear and negative changes in her life. Initially not understanding what was happening made the situation extremely challenging. This frustration fueled her determination to find a solution. After learning about some tools to help heal and manage her panic attacks, she realized the need for a much more accessible resource. Recognizing that she, like most, always have her phone with her, she decided to create an app to provide an immediate and helpful solution. To say the app was much needed and highly received, would be putting it mildly. Root'd now reports over 3 million users! 

Pete and Ania explore the science behind panic attacks, how Rootd takes a slightly different approach then others, and its broader impact on anxiety management. We'll also dive into the entrepreneurial aspects of building a social impact business, Ania's approach to balancing work and life, her strong belief in the freemium model, becoming an 'accidental entrepreneur,' and the ever-evolving conversation around mental health.

Regarding her pricing model Wysocka states, "It did make me butt heads a bit with potential investors and with judges of different VC competitions that Rootd was in, because they were under the impression that you shouldn't have that much free content. On the flip side, however, that's really how we grew organically . . . people sharing it with their friends. There's no hard paywall. You can go and you can get value from it immediately." 

Key themes discussed

  • App modeled on creator's expertise.
  • Pricing app with a freemium model, early entrepreneurship lessons.
  • Cultural shift in talking about mental health.
  • Wholesale code, product augmentation, growth corporate wellness programs.
  • Employers focus on low employee app usage.

A few key takeaways:

1. Ania's journey began with her own experience of having a panic attack during her senior year in college. This personal crisis highlighted the lack of immediate resources and information available, driving her to create the Rootd app.

2. Attacks involve the activation of the nervous system, which can lead to various physical symptoms such as increased sweating, heart palpitations, and seeing stars, along with mental effects like negative thoughts and the sensation of impending danger or death.

3. Rootd is designed to provide immediate relief for panic attacks using cognitive therapy techniques. The app offers two approaches – facing the panic attack head-on or using prompts to manage and calm the symptoms, thus helping activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

4. The app has grown significantly, reaching 3 million users, mainly through organic growth, word of mouth, and strong app store optimization. It has received high user ratings and numerous positive reviews, which bolster its credibility and user trust.

5. Rootd operates as a social impact business, balancing free and premium content to ensure accessibility while also generating revenue. The app has also expanded into the B2B space, partnering with employers and therapists to provide support for mental health, demonstrating its utility in reducing ER visits and improving workplace well-being and performance.

Click here to download transcript.  


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