How long have you been a Founder for?
Are you a first-time or serial Founder?
Kanjo is my second start up, I don’t know if I can justify calling myself a serial founder yet!
What's your backstory. How did you come to be a Founder?
It’s a weird one to say that you’ve been in the mental health space for a decade when you’re 25 and even weirder to say you’re building a parenting app for parents without being a parent. When I was sixteen, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and following my recovery, started one of the largest campaigns to get mental health on the national curriculum. I was fortunate enough to see a real program come out of it, with thousands of children now engaged in a peer-to-peer education scheme. However, ten years on and my first start up under my belt, I saw that nothing had changed in the mental health space. The costs were higher, more children were suffering and parents were more lost than ever.
When I joined Entrepreneur First last year, I was convinced that I wouldn’t go back into the mental health space- I didn’t think there was a solution. However, upon meeting my cofounder Stefan, I saw that with the appropriate and intelligent use of technology we could provide personalised, in time and accessible help to families so that they could nurture their mental development together… and there, Kanjo was born.
What has been the highlight of your Founder career so far?
I think I have a few highlights, even though every day seems to be filled with highlights and lowlights- the roller-coaster man! I would say one key highlight was my first brainstorming session with Stefan at EF. Everyone else was downstairs at work drinks and Stefan and I locked ourselves in a room for a good five hours and did the classic white board start up session. At the end of the session and a few beers down, both of us were like “ okay let’s do this”. We only had a week left of team-building at the program and it felt like this enormous turning point.
I think the other highlights are the first investor, the first hire, the first customer. Every time someone shows us belief in what we are doing is as exciting as the first. A great moment was in our pilot when the first child asked his mum when he would be doing a Kanjo session again.
What has been the lowlight?
You wouldn’t go into this job if you thought it was made of only highlights, there are many, many, lows. From the first firing in the company to an investor backing out, none of it is easy. We are fortunate as a company to have our number one value as openness and awkward transparency. With that, comes the ability to share and process together rather than compartmentalise it alone. Naturally, running a startup feels inherently personal so being able to share that load together and within the ecosystem is amazing.
How did you come across Landscape?
I was lucky enough to meet Joe through a shared advisor and since then the entire team at Landscape has been a huge help to Kanjo. I feel like this reads like Joe paid me to write a complimentary review but given Landscape’s USP, I feel it’s pretty obvious it’s coming straight from me 😂.
What's the biggest challenge you're facing right now and/or need help on?
We are in a pretty challenging space, building something that no one yet has attempted with kids so all help goes a long way. From fundraising to go to market strategies, anyone who is interested in learning more, working with us or poking at our idea - please reach out!
What's the biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?
I think not listening to myself and/or doubting myself in decision making processes. I often think women are programmed to question their decisions and it’s something I am working on. The second is not rushing a hiring process.
Piece of advice you would give to other Founder?
If you don’t act like you can change the world, no one else will believe you can. I don’t want to call it self exceptionalism because acknowledging you don’t understand everything is so important, but if you don’t have self belief when the going gets tough, it’s hard to get through it.
Most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem.
There needs to be more funding going towards women. There needs to be more funding going towards companies making a change for women. Fem-tech, child support, the list goes on.
There also needs to be a shift away from thinking the education space is wish-washy or not as valuable as deep-tech or web-3 companies. As soon as people start investing more into children, the better our future becomes.
What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?
A more equal playing ground.
Alternative routes of funding.
An easier way for in people not in the ecosystem.
Founders and VC’s prioritising wellbeing and mental health. Happier and healthier people work better.