Wow! I can’t believe it’s the last month of the year! I am so thrilled to close the year with our final “Entrepreneur of the month” with the fantastic story of Sonali Mohanty Quantius – an entrepreneur and a scientist at ETH who discovered her purpose from her own experience post pregnancy – “to create a better world of care for pregnant women and mothers. “
If you’ve been reading My Swiss Story for a while, you probably already know how much I love the “Entrepreneur of the Month” Series. Through this series, we hope to share inspiring, enlightening, and motivating tales of female entrepreneurs from around the globe.
Interested to learn more about running a global business in the area of mental health? Continue reading as she opens up about the specifics of her life, career, and passions.
Q: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself
I’m Sonali Mohanty Quantius, a scientist at ETH and the Founder & CEO of Haplocare. Originally from India, I lived in Switzerland for 8 years (2000-2008) for my PhD & Postdoc.
For the next 12 years, I moved across three different continents, working in the pharmaceutical industry, at various leadership positions, before moving back to Switzerland in 2020.
I am a mother to twins, have an adoration for animals and go for long runs whenever I get the time!
Q: Tell us about your current business
I started Haplocare last year, after quitting my corporate job. Haplocare is an end-to-end digital health platform that supports a woman’s mental health before, during and after pregnancy. It was born out of a frustration that we take such good care of our physical health, but forget our mental health during and after pregnancy.
We are a global company, although currently we are focusing on Switzerland and India as our main markets. We have launched the beta version of our app ‘Haplocare’ that offers regular screening, self-care and support groups where you can post anonymously and receive support from other women going through similar struggles.
We are now working with healthcare professionals to add their services so that women (and men) get timely and accurate care for mild, moderate and severe mental health issues at this time.
Q: Tell us your story, how did you come up with this idea?
I was in the US, working full time, when our twins were born. I had a comfortable and smooth pregnancy and was mentally unprepared for what was going to come. Two weeks after we brought our twins back home, my world plunged into darkness. While I was showing a happy face at work and with my friends, I was struggling inside. I had postpartum rage, which is a known symptom of postpartum depression but I thought it was my own fault. I felt as if I just wasn’t a good mother.
Looking back, what makes me so angry, is the lack of support – from my doctor, who never screened me for mental health issues; my work place – that carried on as if I haven’t just given birth to two human beings; and my friends and family – who perpetuated the myth that ‘everyone goes through this’.
I decided that this is not the world that I want my daughter to grow up in, if she decided to have children one day. This is the reason that I started Haplocare – I want everyone to understand that mental health issues are the number one complication of giving birth. Be informed about it, get screened and if required, get accurate and evidence-based treatment on time.
Even though we are based in Switzerland, mental health issues during and after pregnancy are global. However, we have to start somewhere, so we decided to do it in India (my birth country) and Switzerland (my adopted country) first. Both the countries have different challenges that contribute to this problem, and it has been quite a journey so far.
While I appreciate Switzerland for its stability while running a business (which is anything but stable), its sincerity and its work ethic, I appreciate India for the flexibility and informality that makes it a very empathetic approach to working.
However, what I would like to see is: the Swiss being less risk averse and Indians having a better work ethic.
Q: What is a day like “in your heels?” or if you wear Flats (like me)
For me, no two days are exactly the same. One day I am working with developers to fix a bug in the app and another day I am writing a grant or pitching and yet on other days, I am creating a marketing brief with my team.
I wake up early, before the family, to get some quiet time and organize the day. I write a journal everyday and it clarifies my thoughts and sets the tone for the day. My husband and I share the tasks equally, so some days he gets the children ready for school and I manage the evenings (homework, dinner etc) and we switch roles on the other days, depending on our meetings and workload that week.
My entire day is spent working, attending meetings and writing until the children come home. Ever since I started Haplocare, I have worked almost 10+ hours every day!
We make sure that we spend quality time with the children and with each other, so evening dinner is sacred ‘family time’ and I miss ‘networking’ events regularly that happen in the evenings, because of this (organizers, please note!).
I try to run at least 3-4 times a week, which keeps me feeling mentally fresh and alert. On other days, I go for a walk in the woods alone, with no distractions or music. Being in nature is my therapy.
Q: For women entrepreneurs/leaders/content creators, what specific advice would you have?
I would say, don’t overthink it – if you are passionate about something, go for it. Be informed that it will be the most difficult thing that you will do and it will be the hardest that you will work in your life.
Personally, I don’t think there are any specific advantages or disadvantages to being a woman entrepreneur – it really comes down to the environment that we surround ourselves with. I have come across skeptics who would dismiss you because you are a woman, or a foreigner, or use any excuse really; but I have also come across huge supporters and mentors who would often go out of their way to help.
What I do believe in, is that you have to earn that support – I believe that you need to be the best in whatever you do, regardless of your gender. While the world is sometimes unfair, cream always rises to the top. So, if there is one advice that I can offer – it is to be so good in your craft, in your field, in your process, that your competitors can’t really compete. And that comes with hard work, thinking from first principles, and testing and iterating.
If you’d like to like to learn more about Sonali and her business, visit her website by clicking here. You can also follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/haplo.care/ for more information on her journey and life experiences.
If you are a female entrepreneur or know one whose story needs to be heard, we’re waiting to hear from you.
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more resources, our editorial panel is talking about – swiss travel, ex-pat living, mental health, nutrition, wellness, autumn, and activities for children. Stay well and stay with us!
To read posts from November, click here
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