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Inside the Patient Entrepreneur's Mind

Patient Entrepreneur Series: Anna Sjӧberg

Anna Sjӧberg is the CEO and founder of AnnaPS Scandinavia. As a Type 1 Diabetic since 1998, Ms. Sjӧberg wears an insulin pump and began to design underwear with pockets so that she would be able to wear the pump at night, when she was exercising, or when she wanted to use clothes without pockets such as dresses. AnnaPS released its first products in 2011. 

What motivated you to create a business addressing a disease you know so well?

My heart is burning to help others live a lovely life feeling strong and healthy. I always look for solutions to solve a problem for someone or myself making it possible to live as you would like to do. So when I found out that myself and other diabetics were missing a discrete and comfortable way of carrying an insulin pump, I started to invent the AnnaPS clothes / underwear’s with integrated pockets. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I love to make it easier to live with diabetes. It is always a satisfaction when you can help people with already huge challenges in their life.

What are some of the hurdles you perceive exist for people with your disease?

I know it is a challenge to keep up a good spirit, to feel empowered, to manage the diabetes all days 24/7. It is a great challenge to have that power. I think the most hurdles are when you can’t get medication and supporting equipment in a smooth way. When you need to fight to get it. Unfortunatly it is still like that for a lot of us with T1D. I am focusing a lot to eliminate the hurdle of bringing all our diabetes stuff, in good shape and easy accessible.

Who are some of your role models in your space?

Oh yes they are many! All people that are doing so much to spread the awareness about diabetes (especially type 1), all people who arrange events and camps for T1D’s and especially for kids with diabetes. All these people starting businesses and communities within the world of diabetes are so important for us with T1D. But I am also fan of all T1D’s who do sports on a very high level, they really learn so much about managing diabetes and their knowledge is so helpful for all of us. My biggest role model is today the Swede Robin Bryntesson, a T1D and former junior world championship winner in cross-country skiing. He is working so hard to empower kids with T1D to live their dreams and not feeling stopped to do what they want to do. He is doing so much for other T1D’s and one thing are camps for kids with T1D.

In my entrepreneurship I have a lot of Swedish fashion brands as role models. They deliver high fashion, high quality, are stylish, relaxed and unexpected. I love that.

What is your goal beyond creating a successful business?

I would like to earn money to be able to support diabetes related activities, especially for kids, such as camps. My goal is also to enable people with diabetes to try out living in AnnaPS clothes and finding out how easy it can be to carry all your diabetes stuff and also feel more relaxed by having all your things close to you, at all times. To support diabetics to feel more relaxed and comfortable in their life.

What does Lyfebulb mean to you? How can we support you better? what are some of the biggest gaps today for a “young” entrepreneur?

Lyfebulb is a very important player, helping us to get in touch with the right people. I am so happy to be one of the finalists in Lyfelbulb Novo Nordisk Award. I would like to take more part in Lyfebulb events etc.

How do you stay healthy and motivated to deliver?

I am living a hectic life with an own business and two very sporty active kids. I am involved in and supporting a lot of organizations. To make this possible I am helped by being very interested in food and exercising. I love to eat food that makes me feel strong. Today I eat primal eating (no pasta, gluten, rice, potatoes, bad oils and processed foods). I exercise a lot, many hours in very low pace and out in the nature. I love to relax doing yoga and soft movements. When I have more focus on myself I do a quick weight training and flexibility program 3 times/week and once a week I do interval training  (if I’m up to it). I’m careful regarding my sleep and recovery and prefer relaxing in the nature, especially in the Winter as I love cross-country skiing.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I am a strong believer in mentorship and have acting like it myself for 30 years. I have also had a lot of help from my own mentors. I think people get more relaxed and smarter when thinking together and supporting each other.

How can we draw more attention to user-driven innovation?

It is difficult to introduce new products and in this branch there are lots of big companies. It is very expensive to be part of fairs and exhibitions. I think it would be great to find a way for start-ups to be able to take part in these events without having to spend so much money. I also think it would be great to take part in virtual big events, we should start virtual diabets events!

How do you maintain work/life balance?

I try to maintain it…..it’s not easy. I need to take breaks and I always try to take a short walk in the daytime. My best days I do yoga and feel so much better.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

A cure for diabetes is of course top 1, but before we find the cure my wish is an easy manageable  accurate CGM system and insulin pump in a close loop, communicating  the blood sugar status to me regularly (as Nightscout make possible today) and of course, I wish AnnaPS clothes to all diabetics.

What is your favorite song that gets you motivated?

I love an artist named Laleh and she have a great song called Some die young. This helps me to feel my beloved died father inside myself, he helps me go on.

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