When Ania Wysocka was away at university, far from her support network and essentially on her own, she started suffering from panic attacks. Her first instinct was to use her phone to help soothe her, but she couldn’t find anything helpful.
Since Ania couldn’t find what she needed, like many entrepreneurs, she set out to make her own resource. The result is Rootd, an app that provides relief for anxiety and panic attacks. It turns out her idea resonated with others.
Not only is this her first business, but it’s also, for the most part, a one woman show. Although she works with a few contractors on specific tasks, she undertakes everything else herself. Today Rootd boasts more than 2 million users in over 150 countries and Ania is earning 5 figures per month.
Keep reading to find out:
- What exactly led her to create her app
- The process she followed
- What the app entails
- How it works exactly
- Her marketing strategies
- How she approaches content creation
- Why she translated the app
- The resources and tools she uses
- Her greatest accomplishment
- What she wishes she knew when she started
- Her biggest mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Ania Wysocka
Hello, my name is Ania and I’m the founder and creator of Rootd, an app for anxiety and panic attack relief that I’ve bootstrapped to over 2 million users in over 150 countries.
Why She Created Rootd
Rootd came to be due to personal experience.
Like many people, I went through life thinking that anxiety and panic attacks wouldn’t happen to me and that those who did experience them were simply too “stressed out.”
But when my first panic attack came out of nowhere during my final year of university, I realized that the misconceptions I had about anxiety and panic attacks were wrong.
I was far away from home, on student loans, with no family doctor, and I couldn’t find or afford the support I needed. My instinct was to reach for my phone to find an app that could help me process what was happening, but I couldn’t find anything.
The way you understand panic attacks when they first strike can have a huge impact on your healing process.
How She Created Rootd
Once I’d done the research and discovered the techniques and strategies needed to manage and overcome my panic attacks and anxiety, I knew I wanted to use this knowledge combined with my graphic design skills to create a resource for others in a format tailored more towards my demographic.
The concept for Rootd was formed as paper and marker notes, illustrations, and wireframes in my notebook. One day I created a disgruntled monster illustration and that little guy has gone on to become Rootd’s mascot Ron, who serves as users’ companion and supporter throughout their journeys in the app.
After a ton of work refining those ideas and navigating my own journey with anxiety, my passion for the idea of Rootd was too strong to ignore and I set out to bring it to life.
For version one, I turned the work in my notebooks into real wireframes and mock-ups using Photoshop. Then I found a student developer and worked with him to publish an app to the App Store and Google Play, which I launched on World Mental Health Day.
This first version of the app had way less features and functionality than the Rootd of today, but what it did have was Rootd’s core values and components of stigma-breaking design and accessibility.
As it still is today, the big red panic attack button was front and center in the app and completely free to use.
Rootd started out with this very niche focus on panic attack relief, which enabled it to immediately resonate with users and gain 5-star reviews.
As I mentioned, Rootd’s first version was launched on World Mental Health Day. This helped provide it with a really clear story for a launch-day press release.
How the App Works
When you open Rootd, you’ll first see the Rootr, a panic button to bring a swift end to panic attacks based on the latest techniques in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
You’ll find peace of mind by learning about where anxiety comes from, how our bodies and minds experience panic attacks, and why this all might be happening to you within Rootd’s lessons.
You’ll practice breathing, journaling, checking in and listening to visualizations, guided body scans, ASMR, and nature sounds to get rooted when feeling anxious.
How Much Money Ania’s Making
The app is monetized using a freemium subscription model and I’m currently earning 5 figures per month.
I work on it lot of nights and weekends, but my passion for my business is so strong that I still enjoy this even when it’s tiring.
Her Main Marketing Strategy
One great thing about the app stores is that after clicking “publish,” your product is immediately available to every iPhone or Android owner across the world.
Of course, they have to learn about it to actually download or use it, but the potential to place it in their hands is taken care of.
The most powerful driver of growth so far has been working on Rootd’s app store optimization, as this drives organic growth.
On the app stores, your keywords, screenshots, description, ratings, reviews, downloads, app reliability, and more all complement each other, so building an amazing solution and clearly and attractively presenting it are pretty much critical foundations.
We optimize all of those elements to rank as high as possible within the stores.
Her Content Creation and Translation Process
I’ve had success with finding ways to create stories around Rootd.
At the beginning of each year, I take out the calendar and plan what Rootd’s big story for each month will be.
For example, October is World Mental Health Day and March is International Women’s Day. Then every month I am diligent about following through with new features, new in-app events, and new stories.
I’m constantly working to make Rootd more accessible for users and addressing user needs as well as a press release to share the news.
In fact, translating Rootd into Portuguese was one of the least “businessy” business decisions I had made. Someone had sent me a WHO article that had direct quotes from people describing their personal struggles with panic attacks and anxiety. I could relate to the quotes and decided to translate Rootd on a whim.
Years later, and Rootd has supported hundreds of thousands of people across Brazil and Portugal. Today Rootd is available in 10 different languages, and our other localizations were also inspired by personal experiences and messages from users in various countries where the languages are spoken, and this ended up bringing a lot of heartfelt testimonials from all over the world.
Ania’s Favorite Resources
I love the “My First Million” podcast. It’s actually led me into a new community of fellow entrepreneurs and founders which has been a wonderful addition to my life, as the journey of a bootstrapped solo founder can be hard and lonely.
Rootd actually got a shoutout on a recent MFM episode which felt like coming full circle
Her Top Tools
Rootd is built using Creative Cloud, Figma, Trello, and the App Store and Google Play, among others.
Her Greatest Challenge
Rootd is bootstrapped, and I built the first version with only a few thousand dollars.
All my activities across the business shared the theme of maximum impact for minimum cost. Looking back, that helped build an amazing foundation for Rootd to thrive from.
Her Biggest Accomplishment
Ultimately, the thing that has worked best is having an intimate understanding of the problem and solution. I’ve lived with anxiety and panic attacks and I built the solution I needed. Turns out it’s a solution that millions of others resonate with, too.
I’ve learned a ton. Rootd is my passion most days, nights, and weekends, and I’ve given so much of myself to it and it’s given so much back.
So far Rootd has been featured in the app stores more than 100 times, been App of the Day and in the Developer Spotlight in several countries, and been featured in publications such as Women’s Health, Time Magazine, Healthline and more.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
Below are three things I wish I knew when I started out.
1. Avoid trying to mold yourself into the “definition” of a leader, because this definition changes over time and is influenced by countless factors. It’s much better to use your personal strengths to lead than worry about looking or acting like the traditional idea of a leader.
2. Be as clear as possible in your management, especially in communicating your desired deliverables, associated timelines, and who should be responsible for each element. This reduces miscommunication and associated frustration.
3. Focus on building something that helps your users.
Her Main Mistake
My biggest mistake has definitely been allowing the opinions of others weigh me down.
None of them had launched an app in the health and wellness space based on personal experience and their doubts ended up being unfounded.
In the end, Rootd proved a lot of those opinions wrong, but I still regret the time I spent doubting myself and Rootd when I heard them, and how that may have impacted some decisions I was making.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
It’s important to have confidence in yourself and take a moment to reflect on where you are in life, because it’s likely you’ve already achieved many amazing things to get to where you already are.
Also know that bootstrapping is absolutely a viable option.