Today's Entrepreneur: Silja Litvin

Kristin Karaoglu · December 28, 2020 · Short URL:

It's easy to get caught up in your vision and not consider consumer needs or business requirements

Today's Entrepreneur is Silja Litvin the founder and CEO of PsycApps. PsycApps is a digital mental health startup that is using gamification, AI, and chatbots to find a way how to get people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses intrinsically motivated to stick to therapeutic digital programs.

Silja Litvin was born in Germany but moved to southern California early in her life. Exposed to many diverse cultures early in life, she developed an insatiable curiosity for the human condition leading to her pursuing a degree in psychology.

She began her master's degree at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, graduating in Clinical Psychology and Systemic Family Therapy in 2013. Alongside her education as a Systemic Family Therapist in 2015, she began her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

A child of the digital generation, Silja was looking for ways to use apps and social media to help people suffering from mental issues. She went on to create a psychological mobile app that helps users identify and self-manage depression. With this idea, she undertook her Ph.D. thesis, thus ensuring it to be evidence-based and ethically sound.

Now she is venturing into the world of AI, gamification, and chatbots to find a way to be able to help people help themselves, launching the beta of her emotional fitness game eQuoo in New Zealand and Australia.

Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?

After working internationally for 17 years as a model and managing my own book, I could not imagine a 9-to-5 job with a boss I may or may not agree with or respect. That and wanting to create something new that was mine was the main driver.

Your favorite startups:

I'm, quite impressed by Calm as a successful startup, but there are so many cool little ones out there that just blow my mind because they're so creative.

Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?

I was working on my Ph.D. and I didn't want to 'only' add knowledge to the pool through my work, but leave behind a tool people could actually use. After understanding all the restrictions that come with University funding, I decided to go private and the route of compassionate capitalism.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Fundraising. I. Hate. Fundraising.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

I think it's easy to get caught up in your vision or product and not consider consumer needs or even business requirements. We learned the hard way that you need a business model before you design a product. Cost us 2 years possibly.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1) Don't take rejection personally but still listen closely to the reasons. 2) Ask for help: reach out to mentors, advisors, and investors and ask, ask, ask: most people love to support someone who works hard and has a good idea. 3) Don't get too emotionally deep into your startup: it's always important to try and keep a meta-position, otherwise, you'll emotionally and mentally drain yourself.

What is the most fun you've had in your path as an entrepreneur?

I really loved my 3 months with Techstars: the camaraderie, the learning curve, the other CEOs who could share experiences with were really some of the best months of my life.

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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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CEO and Founder of PsycApps