Becoming a female founder with Sophia Parvizi-Wayne

By Sophia Parvizi-Wayne
Sophia Parvizi-Wayne, co-founder of My Kanjo, shares her experience as a female founder in the mental health space

When I was 15, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, and it became obvious that no one knew it was happening until I was sick. By the time I had recovered, I realised that the school system taught children very little about mental health, so my best friend and I started a campaign to raise awareness. Eventually, it became one of the biggest mental health campaigns of its time. 

So I had a long history in the mental health space, personally and professionally, before co-founding My Kanjo, which I launched to tackle the three most pressing issues surrounding children’s mental health: personalisation, prevention, and including parents.

On the front end, Kanjo is a children’s gaming app that enables them to build on their general emotional wellbeing – so anything from empathy to emotional resilience. From this, we’re able to provide parents with personalised and recommended advice based on the child’s interaction.

Launching a startup is a fantastic opportunity. I definitely know I don’t want to be doing anything else, but it’s a lot of work and you’re forced to play 100 different roles at once. Sometimes I’m fundraising, then writing content, other times I’m a childminder or discussing game ideas.

Being a female founder also brings a layer of challenges – mainly from a communication perspective, as well as getting people to understand and respect you. Also, as a perfectionist, I have found it difficult to accept that I won’t get everything right the first time and that it’s okay to make mistakes. 

I also live, breathe and speak my startup – it’s my whole life – so it can be difficult to find a happy balance to ensure I’m still having downtime and relaxing. To enforce this, I try to do at least one thing I love every day, whether that be seeing friends or going for a run. 

I’ve also realised that I’m a deep empath, which I think many women can relate to. Although that brings a number of benefits, it can mean you’re a people pleaser. So in a business setting, if one person out of 99 doesn’t like me, I feel the need to do everything in my power to change their mind. 

But, through all the ups and downs, the best thing about owning a startup is knowing that my co-founder, Stefan, and I are making a difference in the mental health space by helping parents understand their children more.


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