TranQool is a health and wellness service that aims to offer affordability and convenience to see a virtual therapist. Chakameh Shafii is the #GirlBoss who started TranQool as a result of her own struggles with anxiety. We spoke to her about startup life and how her team hopes to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
1) What’s a day in the life of Chakameh Shafii like?
The first hour includes either a 10 mins meditation on Headspace or writing in my 5 mins journal, commuting to work, listening to podcasts and drinking coffee, of course. The rest of the day is filled with meetings, emails and work. I try to exercise almost every day (not weekends) at lunch or in the evening.
2) Tell us about TranQool.
TranQool was started from a conversation between friends. I did CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for my anxiety while working full-time at a Fortune 500 company. It was very effective so I definitely recommend therapy to almost anyone seeking a better quality of live.
I often get asked for suggestions on finding a therapist, how to afford it, getting over the stigma, etc. so at one point, I talked to one of my friends about potentially starting something to address this need and they mentioned he had been looking for a psychologists for work stress…that friend is now my co-founder. We also recruited another friend who is a mechanical engineer and that’s how TranQool was born!
3) Do you have a background in tech? If not, what was the process you took to build the platform?
Yes, I am an engineer. My #1 suggestion to anyone considering building a technology product is to get an MVP out in the hands of your users as soon as possible. This can be a demo of your product built with Adobe or a landing page you’ve made with wix.com or squarespace.com.
4) Are you seeing a trend on how people are using TranQool?
It seems like the most common reasons why people are coming to therapy are stress, anxiety and depression. For women, self-esteem is also trending. What is extremely heartwarming for our team is to see a constant growth in the number of users who come to therapy to improve their day to day life, achieve their goals and/or improve their relationships. It’s important to work on building strength and resilience because life has its ups and downs. Building the resilience muscles will give you an upper hand in maintaining a healthy life.
5) How do you diminish anxiety that naturally comes with working at a startup, living in a big city and being bombarded by the pressures of social media? How do you maintain a purposeful mentally healthy life?
Anxiety is a natural emotion that everyone feels but we’re currently living in the most anxious society we’ve ever lived in. There is the pressure of social media, constant news of war, and unsettling political atmosphere that give us all additional anxiety and stress. I maintain a healthy body by eating well, regular work-outs and staying hydrated.
It’s basically the same with our emotional health, it requires regular mental exercises. Therapy helps identify tools and techniques to not only face adversity but also build a fulfilling life. Meditating gives your mind space to calm down while it’s so used to multi-tasking and overloading. Getting a good night’s sleep helps calm my nerves and resets my body for a new day!
6) What books and/or blogs are you reading right now?
I’m reading ‘Sapiens’. It’s about the history of humans, and is beautifully written and super captivating. I’m an archaeology fan, it was the only humanities elective I took in engineering, but I think anyone would enjoy this book.
I also listen to ‘Invisibilia’. This podcast is interesting because they dig deep into the unseen parts of our lives, our thoughts, our beliefs and biases. And Tim Ferriss’ podcast — it’s not just for startups and entrepreneurs. It’s great for anyone who wants to learn about day-to-day techniques that many leaders use to improve their performance.
7) Your favourite dining and hangout spots in Toronto…
I love walking around Trinity Bellwoods in the summer. Having a beer at the Bellwoods Brewery or having lunch/dinner at Terroni would describe a perfect Sunday for me (that’s if I’m not working)! I don’t think we get enough sun in this city so when I get a chance I love to spend time outside, primarily on a picnic blanket reading books.
8) Top 3 places on your travel bucket list…
Barcelona, Northern cities of Iran and Bali!
9) If you wrote a biography, what would the book title be?
Never stop dreaming!