She is 31 years old, Farina Schurzfeld from Selfapy, and full of energy. In 2016 she founded Selfapy together with two partners, a therapy portal that offers immediate help with psychological stress.
After her BA studies in Hamburg and Dubai, she went to Australia, where she immersed herself in the Australian start up world during her MIB studies. In the founding team of Groupon Australia and Airtasker, she supported building up two international companies and after a short stopover in NYC she landed in Berlin. A stroke of fate in her family brought her to the topic of psychological therapy and gave her the thought to close the supply gap for mentally stressed people. Today she is founder & CMO at Selfapy with 30 employees. In our interview you can learn more about her heart project, where she gets inspiration from and which social topic is important to her.
Name: Farina Schurzfeld
Family status: Single
Profession and Position: Founder & CMO
Where do you live? In Berlin, in the Swabian part. 😉
How would you describe your lifestyle? Active.
Hobbies: Volleyball, tennis, dancing and in winter very much to sweat in the sauna.
Do you follow a philosophy in life? Your reality is what you make it, what you choose to see, and what you choose to allow yourself to do. There are possibilities all around you – magic all around you – no matter what situation you’re in.
Can you briefly explain the concept of Selfapy?
Selfapy offers effective immediate help for people suffering from psychological stress such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Our 3 to 6 months courses are based on behavioural therapy and are clinically effective. Upon request, a psychologist will accompany you with weekly telephone conversations.
Where did the idea for Selfapy come from?
I have always been very interested in psychology and if my grade average had allowed it, studying psychology would have been an alternative to business studies ;). When a serious case of illness occurred in my family in 2015 and psychological support was urgently needed, I was confronted for the first time with the supply gap. At that time, I didn’t know how to help myself, but I started googling and met my present co-founders Nora & Kati, who had just started Selfapy. Together we collected investment and started at full throttle in early 2016.
What are Selfapy’s next goals?
That no one who seeks psychological support must wait, no one who suffers should be ashamed to seek help. Our goal is to break with the stigma of mental illness and make (effective) therapy accessible to everyone.
In your opinion, what are essential tools for the fast growth of a start-up?
I don’t want to go into scalability or products here, but rather focus on the human factor.
The most important success factor at the beginning is the team. With the right team, you create value and can successfully communicate it to the outside world. Even if things don’t work out as they should, the right team can contribute to finding an alternative business model and rethinking approaches. But most importantly is that you enjoy what you do with the right team.
In addition, the personal network is a large lever. No matter if you want to get a second opinion/expertise, to recruit financiers or talent for the team. Building a network and maintaining it, is a lot of work – but it’s worth it.
What are the biggest challenges in your current position?
1. prioritizing and not losing focus because of all the opportunities.
2. keep growth vs. money together.
Have you had mentors on your career path?
Yes, some. From the family, as well as from the economy. My biggest mentor at the moment is Robert and he coaches me more on a personal level.
What was the most important advice you received from another woman?
Be a woman and try not to strive for male values in the world of men or even to compete with them. I am not a great supporter of women’s quotas or excessive sexism. Equal opportunities ok, but I think it is especially important that we women remain true to ourselves and hand in hand with men strive to perceive the world a little more consciously and possibly even make it a little better.
How do you rate the founder scene in Germany, especially for women?
Women often do not have the courage to found, which has many causes and, in particular has to do with education and the image within society.
Do you think that women generally have to fight harder for their career?
Do you use social media yourself?
Yes, but not excessively. Facebook to stay in touch with friends, especially from abroad. Instagram for example, for cooking recipes or interior design and as an entertainment medium YouTube. On many weekends and evenings, however, my mobile phone is out of reach, I enjoy being in the “now” without a mobile phone in my hand.
Fashion is an emotional, very personal topic. Is there a business look for you that always fits?
Black jeans from Drykorn, sneaker and a white shirt. With it goes my beige Liebeskind bag.
Do you have power colours, which make you feel fearless in your job?
I am more ‘classic’ and wear a lot of grey, black, white. In my job I am less colourful, but I am a multicoloured firecracker when it comes to sports.
Do you include fashion trends into your work wear?
Less so, I’m not really the fashionista.
What advice do you give to women who are still looking for their style?
Find a shop with nice shop assistants, where you feel comfortable and where you can get advice.
Who or what inspires you?
Time for me and a work-life balance. The most creative ideas do not come to me on my office chair, so I consciously take time for myself, e.g. enjoy an evening break in the sauna or a walk through the park during lunch break.
Which social topic is important to you?
The stigma of psychological diseases in society. Even if the enlightenment is getting better and better and after events like the suicide of Robert Enke the topic of mental illnesses is getting more and more attention, people with mental illnesses still have to fight today with the consequences of stigmatization. The fear of rejection and exclusion is an enormous burden for them, which can also have a negative effect on the course of the disease. Together with Selfapy we want to fight against this stigma and encourage people to talk about it. Psychological illnesses such as depression are a disease. Depression is treatable.