Ania Wysocka, 29

Founder, RootdProgram director, Alacrity Canada

Life Story: In her fourth year of an international relations degree at UBC, Ania Wysocka started suffering from panic attacks. For someone who had enjoyed public speaking and always saw herself working for an international organization, life became very different. “It totally changed my whole trajectory of what I was going to do,” recalls Wysocka, who grew up in Canada, Poland and South Korea, where her mother taught math and English. In what turned out to be the spark for a business, she had trouble finding an explanation of her condition online.

Wysocka, who had taught herself graphic design and animation while at university, worked as a designer after graduation so she could avoid being around people. Switching to web design and content creation, she moved to Victoria for a contract gig and began helping startups design their products. In 2017, under her company, Simply Rooted Media, Wysocka founded Rootd, a mobile app for anyone seeking relief from panic attacks and anxiety. “The idea is to get Rootd out to people so that they don’t have this prolonged experience that I had,” she says.

That same year, Wysocka began working with Alacrity Canada, where she became program director in 2019. At the nonprofit, which promotes tech entrepreneurship in B.C., she does investor relations and heads a provincewide digital marketing bootcamp.

Bottom Line: Wysocka runs Victoria-based Rootd–whose freemium model offers core app services for free as well as monthly, annual and group subscriptions–with help from contractors. As of late May, Rootd had almost 305,000 downloads from 153 countries and ranked No. 1 for “anxiety and panic attack relief” on the App Store and Google Play. Wysocka, who plans to reach the 1-million user mark this year, has been offering free subscriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.