Hafiz Mitha

Hafiz Mitha on building a Marathon Mindset, being Purpose Driven and solving the Problem of Social Isolation and Loneliness through Physical Activity, Play and the use of Technology.

Date 22.10.2020

About Hafiz Mitha –

Social Entrepreneur I Founder & CEO of PlayCity I Forerunner I Community Builder I TED Speaker I Change Maker I Purpose Driven I Thought Leader I Visionary I Collaborator I Social Worker I Advisor, Marketer & Fundraiser for Non-Profits I Sports & Outdoor Activity Enthusiast I Nature Lover I Dogfather


Hafiz's LinkedIn handle

Hafiz's Instagram handle

Hafiz's Facebook handle

We have a very special guest on today’s show. Be sure of taking this opportunity to check out this wisdom-packed conversation. A fighter and believer in living life to its fullest, Hafiz Mitha (founder of PlayCityApp) is a living symbol of authenticity, unity, positivity and high-spirited. Hafiz’s journey has been quite fascinating and remarkable. So don’t be surprised if you get the chills reading this one. 

1. How it all started

Hafiz was selling credit cards and insurance in his varsity days to get things going. He realized soon that being employed as a banker/ mortgage broker/ corporate junkie is not meant for him. Emotionally exhausted working in call centre sales and support job, Hafiz one day decided to quit his banking job and made a commitment to self to write his own pay check and take control of his destiny.


2. Beginning of the Entrepreneurial Journey

Right after graduating from college, Hafiz began his entrepreneurial journey with co-founding Tech Firms (Software & FinTech companies such as JOI Media, Katipult & Parallel Earth). JOI Media turned out to be an award winning software development firm, scaled from 15 employees in Calgary’s office to going global with offices in Czech Republic & Thailand.


3. Emotional Bankruptcy

After 6 years of entrepreneurial stint at JOI Media, moving to Thailand and operating from there for 6 months and tasting financial success, Hafiz was left with dissatisfaction and a sense of emptiness.


4. Realization

A family trip to Jamaica gave him the space to do some much-needed introspection. That’s when he realized that his lack of passion for his work at his own company is making him miserable and is taking him to a dead end. Soon he decided to exit and went in search of something meaningful and fulfilling.


5. The Healing

Hafiz decided to travel to Nepal & India where he started volunteering for Manavta Project (An International NGO, based in Nepal, with a focus on wash sanitation and education) in 2015. In spite of the language barrier, Hafiz made meaningful relationships and friendships with the locals through compassion, play and sports. Hafiz also started journaling leading him to greater self-awareness and clarity on the next chapter of his life.  


6. Embracing the change

For the first time in his career, Hafiz had taken time off from work and it permitted him to fall back on his childhood memories of all the play and fun, of how much he loved sports and hanging out with friends, of having pure joy and being free from peer judgements.


7. The Aha Moment

Time has come for Hafiz to live his “DHARMA” or “IKIGAI” ("a true way of one’s being"). Hafiz moved back to his hometown Calgary after a few months. He started looking out for options to find someone to play tennis, do outdoor activities and sports in general. But he was having a hard time finding a playmate of his skill level and in his preferred time slot. This made him realize that there is no organized digital (tech) platform and existing social channels didn’t help, so he decided to build an App.


8. Finding Purpose

Thought of being mortal (realising the fact that we have been blessed with one life and limited time here), love for sports, feeling of loneliness, experience of running tech startups and discovering the difficulty of finding activity buddies, all of it fell in place and turned out to be a blessing. It helped him narrow down his purpose, his next expedition, a fulfilling one this time. Who knew this would be the beginning of something great, a sparkling journey of turning one’s childhood passion to paycheck and impacting the society at large?


9. The Birth

PlayCity was born in Feb 2016 and the rest is history. What seemed like a simple solution to his tennis problem, turned into something much more. PlayCity is a platform on a mission to connect people through play, using technology to connect OFFLINE! The free mobile app connects adults to others based on a shared interest. 

10. The Bigger Picture

Many a times the most difficult and complex problems can be solved in a simple manner. Social Isolation increases the risk of heart disease and stroke; inactivity costs ~ $7 Billion a year in Canada. Hafiz Mitha with a simple idea of PlayCity App, is certainly making a notable difference by solving this massive problem.


11. The Impact

 10,000+ App Downloads

Over years of perseverance, PlayCity has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people become happier, healthier and more connected. Having started PlayCity in Calgary, Hafiz is on his way to scale the reach to millions across the globe. After recently launching PlayCity App in Vancouver and Montreal and having a small community of users in Germany, Hafiz is determined to expand his user network and add potential partners from across Canada in the coming months. 

12. The Testimonial

Shivi shared her experience of finding an old friend through PlayCity App. Hafiz says user experiences like such inspires him to keep grinding, building and growing the company. 

13.  The Collaboration

PlayCity connects organizations to players who are looking for ways to be active in their community. With PlayCity, organizations can inspire more people to be more active, more often, while building a diverse and inclusive community, connecting new friends, fostering accessibility, and generating a whole lot of fun!


Early partnership with MEC became a game-changer. Since then, PlayCity has partnered with many more organizations and is collectively providing better service every day.


14. The Heroes

Iconic historic figures and athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Snoop Dog, Bob Marley, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela to name a few are his heroes as he could relate himself with them in many ways. Hafiz says someone’s monetary feat doesn’t inspire him, rather he always drew the motivation from those (esp. athletes and sports heroes) who fought through the adversities, defied the odds and created change for the greater good.


15. Success Mantra

Stay true to yourself.


16. The Inspiration

His parents are among the biggest inspiration and role model for him. They have fought their way through many adversities and migrated to Canada from East Africa in the 70s, worked very hard to provide for the family, embodied discipline, made time for family & for the community and successfully established themselves as proud Canadians.


17. Giving Back

In addition to his continued partnership with Manavta NGO as an advisor and the marketing & fundraising campaign specialist, Hafiz is also involved in community engagement, outreach, mentoring and fundraising activities with few other social and health services organizations such as #SoGo (meetup of social entrepreneurs), Spin For Life (charity spin bike event for Canadian Cancer Society), Nicerr (social platform for getting one-on-one expert advice and raising funds for charities), ActiveCity Collective (collaborating efforts and optimizing resources to maximizing Calgary’s socio-economic well-being), Canadian Mental Health Association (improve mental health through counselling, conversations & activities).   


18. Dose of Wisdom

When asked what keeps him excited and the thing that wakes him up every morning, Hafiz response was full of nuggets of wisdom.

  • Be grateful for the simple things in life.
  • Be aware of & accept your mortality.
  • Make the best of your time by using it wisely for the things that actually matters to you.
  • Do the best you can without leaving any regret of a half-hearted effort.
  • Cut all sorts of negative inputs and associations in life.
  • Be more mindful of your nutrition, sleep, exercise, associations, thoughts and actions. 

19. Becoming the Dogfather

Hafiz adopted a dog (a Siberian Husky-German Shepherd mix) a few months ago, named her Arya. He talked about how she taught him to be happier, active & appreciative of the small things in life. Hafiz calls Arya his ‘Ultimate Accountability Partner’ and is grateful for having Arya in his life. 


20. Blogging

Hafiz loves to write in his spare time. Checkout his LinkedIn Article and Blog page where he has shared some very insightful stories and experiences.


21. Building meaningful relationships

Hafiz shares his thoughts on forming trust and better relationships.

  • Be a better person; Be authentic
  • Be yourself (don’t be a poser)
  • Be of service to others
  • Take genuine interest in people and their work
  • Be mindful
  • Have real life in-person conversations. 

22. On Entrepreneurship

  •       Don’t Sprint, keep a Marathon mindset.
  •       Consistency beats Intensity in a long run. 

23. On Greatness & Success

  •        Don’t chase validation from others
  •        Vision of having a million people use PlayCity App.
  •        Be yourself and focus on what you truly want to do.  

24.  Ask from the Community

Affiliate marketing & partnership support to make a diverse, active, healthier & tolerant community. Hafiz would love to connect with an organization sharing a mandate of increasing social connection, building active and diverse communities, and having fun.


25.  Break the Value Norm

Hafiz talks about the rigid view of ROI as being short-sighted and valuing only quick monetary gratification. He believes it is not about how much money is being made, rather how many people are happier today because of you. What’s people’s level of well-being because of you? That’s all that matters.


26. Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

If your Why is strong enough, the How gets figured out.

  • Have a clear value proposition and solve real pressing problems.
  • Be clear about your audience (customers).
  • Understand that the journey is going to be super hard so have the belief and a clear purpose to help you grind through it.
  • With clarity, grit and right coaching, the insurmountable tasks can be achieved. 

27.  Advice for job seekers

  • Don’t waste time in this pandemic situation. Rather use it as a blessing in disguise to reflect, re-strategize and hone your skills.
  • Do something you are passionate about
  • Be real with yourself
  • Have a compelling purpose.
  • How closely what you do in your personal (spare) time aligns with your aspirations/ profession?

28. The Impact

  • Having a more connected, healthier, happier, caring, diverse and a tolerant community.
  • Say NO to Racism, Ignorance & Social Isolation.
  • Adopt Solidarity, Empathy and Childlike Innocence through play & shared interests. 


Little bit about PlayCityApp


  • Make new friends who share an interest with you.
  • Find a sports, fitness, or activity partner who is at your skill level and available when you are.
  • Secure, one-on-one chat lets you easily coordinate and plan your activity.
  • Discover local sports and activity facilities and events relevant to you.
  • Use PlayCity Perks at participating partner facilities and locations to save money on play.
  • Feedback system helps us build a community of awesome, reliable people.
  • Facebook authentication allows us to verify our user base - more authentication options coming soon!

P.S. We loved having Hafiz on the show and appreciate him for sharing his story with us. Kudos to his tenacity, giving attitude and work ethic. You are in for a treat with PlayCity Community. Now finding your activity of interest, a play buddy, gatherings and future friends is just an App away. Let’s make PlayCity Movement go viral.


Watch Hafiz’s video presentations -

On 10,000 downloads 

TED Talk on Build Strong Communities through Play

Initial Days of Presentation and Q&A 


Be Playful!   

Stay Healthy and Spread Awesomeness…..