Article by Courtney Carlsson, Co-Founder & CEO
When I first moved back to London in 2014 for my MBA, after 10 years of studying and working in Washington DC, New York, Paris and Singapore, my mother was also doing a move of her own within London. She was leaving her flat that she’d moved into after her divorce and moving further west. My sister, ever the dutiful daughter, helped her move. But I was tied up with all of the MBA new school year kickoff events.
A few months into the program, as I settled into student life again, my mother also settled into her new home. One Sunday, we’d all planned to meet there for dinner. My sister and I happened to arrive at her door at the same time. As I was about to ring the doorbell, she whipped out a key.
She had her own key. And I didn’t.
For me, the key was not only my sister’s literal access to my mother’s new home, but it also felt like a symbol of her inside access to my mother. And it made me feel like an outsider. To be even more transparent, this wasn’t the only incident like this, it was just another in the series of a long list of our family dynamic. My sister and my mother were thick as thieves, and I wasn’t really in the club.
Beyond the sadness I felt at feeling shut out, I started wondering why this could be the case. I poured through old emails, there seemed to be common threads about the way she felt:
- She felt unappreciated at the gestures of love she’d made for me
- She felt I was often emotionally turbulent
- She felt I only saw my way
Perhaps I wasn’t a victim here. Perhaps this dynamic was a product of the way I’d treated my family while I was working in New York? Single-minded, I lived for my work and my team. Could this have created resentment in them, never feeling like a priority?
Those 3 things weren’t only an issue between my mother and I. Similar issues had also been raised by multiple boyfriends.
When so many people I loved and trusted were saying the same thing, it became clear to me that I had to make things better. I knew I had to change if I wanted better relationships with my loved ones. I wasn’t sure if change was possible, or what it would even entail. But this was the start of my journey. It started with therapy, addressing some of the anger I had towards my parents. It also started with trying to understand myself, the patterns of that emotional turbulence and the mood swings that came with it. I started reading all kinds of books, including Destructive Emotions by Daniel Goleman, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and many more. I started meditation, all kinds: Calm, Headspace, Transcendental Meditation. I even got my Reiki Healing Levels I & 2. I became single-minded about trying to change old behaviour in order to become more empathetic and balanced.
What worked best for me was a combination of therapy and self-awareness & emotional intelligence learning. The internal work I’ve done over these past years has had the most profound and life-altering impact on me: my confidence, my relationships, and the way that I work. This is why I started Paradym: to give everyone access to these tools. I was in a very fortunate position with time and money to be able to access the support that I needed. I strongly believe mental wellness, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence is something that we should all have access to and benefit from. This is why Paradym will always be an affordable tool, and why we’ve built it to be very conscious of our user’s time, hence the Paradym process only takes 7-10mins of your day.
I’m extremely committed to this mission. To date, I’ve invested 200k of my savings in the business and have not yet taken a salary.
We started out in a tiny, 28 sq meter office on the outskirts of West London. The location wasn’t great, but we were paying £1k a month (these days 1 desk at WeWork in central London costs around £575/month), so it was a super sweet deal! At one point we crammed 6 desks in there! Despite the space constraints, I still think of that office very fondly, since that’s where Paradym was launched.
Today, we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve moved into a much nicer space in central London, thanks to our anchor investor FCT Europe. It feels like a great milestone after the traction we’ve built since launch:
600+ users in 28 countries
+438% increase in downloads in iOS since launch in November 2018
Joined WeWork Labs, giving us access to their 300k members (something in the pipeline here to be announced in the coming weeks)
Joined The Family, a platform whose portfolio companies are worth a combined $1bn. They’re experts at scale and building community.
Our team is small but mighty. We are proudly gender-balanced, and represent 5 countries on 4 continents, and have a team that spans 3 generations: Gen X, Y & Z.
This is going to be a real leg up for when we start to spend money on marketing and focus on scale. We will have diversity of perspective for us to understand our entire user base globally and across all ages. I strongly believe that the best work comes from teams with diversity of perspective. There are a bunch of studies that have been done on this topic, one example, ‘Why Diversity Matters’ by Mckinsey consulting asserts:
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are fifteen percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
I’m also proud to say that our CTO Jeremy and our Creative India have been with us since that first tiny office. That’s over a year, which demonstrates their dedication to Paradym and our mission.
Imagine a world where we’re all happy, calm and balanced. Where we can all understand one another and communicate successfully. A world where we’re all fulfilled because we understand ourselves. Paradym isn’t just an app, it’s a movement, a community, and a symbol for positive change.
While I’m realistic, I strongly believe we can start by impacting millions of people who will then impact many other millions of people until that network effect takes hold and we’ve reached billions.
In order to do that we need to complete the Paradym process and launch a paid marketing strategy. This is where the funds come in. Thank you to everyone that has already invested in Paradym. Thank you for joining our community and standing by us in our mission.
On a proud side note – my mother has also invested, as well as my stepmother who’s a psychologist (that’s a whole other blog post about those issues and how we’ve overcome them!). There are always two sides to every story, and being aware of the other side and understanding the emotions and rationale behind the other side has allowed me to improve my personal relationships to a level I never thought possible. To conclude the end of my story, I learnt that I’m responsible for my life. I’m responsible for my own behaviour and I'm aware of how it impacts anyone around me. Ultimately learning how to navigate that has been transformative.
As mental wellness comes into the mainstream, paving the way for Paradym, we believe our growth will be explosive.
By the end of 2022, we hope to have 500k downloads and 50k paid users through creative online and offline marketing. We plan to use our seed investment to propel our marketing efforts and build out the product - tech and content. And this is only the beginning.
I invite you to join us now, and hunker down for the ride before we really start flying!
Crowdcube pitch page.