Thinking of starting a new business?

It’s never too late to dream big

We caught up with entrepreneur, managing director and founder of Patney, Frances Anderson. As far as any inspirational stories go for aspiring entrepreneurs, Frances has a good one. Frances had been part of the work force for over 30 years when she decided to leave the corporate world and follow her entrepreneurial dreams and start her own venture – that venture is the Patney Sleep Positioner. We asked Frances, what made her leave what she always known and follow her dreams?

Having followed a career that had taken me down many different paths I wasn’t frightened of change. It was a calculated risk but I was probably a little naive at the start as to what I was actually getting myself into. But I like a challenge and this entrepreneurial adventure has certainly tested my courage. It has taken four years to bring the anti-snore sleep positioner to the market. So Patney is very new to the market; it is still at times a scary venture but because of my diverse experience and wonderful advisers, it has been a well-planned venture.

How did you go about being an entrepreneur?

Well I didn’t necessarily know I was being an entrepreneur. Patney exists because it was a solution to a personal problem. Due my genetic makeup, I was a habitual snorer. Being ostracized as a 13-year-old at boarding school, then all the negative impacts of snoring through my life it was always something I’d kept to myself. After having tried a lot of products, including invasive surgery, nothing stopped my snoring. Therefore, out of desperation I decided to take things into my own hands and designed and developed my own solution which lead to the Patney Sleep Positioner. A couple of girl-friends said can I have one. Prior to that I thought I was the only female that snored, and so the journey began. I was fortunate that Soda Inc, an incubator of start-up businesses in the Waikato, supported my passion for what I wanted to achieve and introduced Patney to knowledge experts who gave so freely of their expertise. 

How can we emulate your success?

Solve a problem. It became abundantly clear that my little secret was a widespread problem and most people I knew either snored or their partner did.

You can’t be an entrepreneur without passion for what you want to achieve, but you have to be realistic and be prepared to change direction or stop because it can’t just be a dream. For me it was imperative that the sleep positioners effectiveness was validated so I sought an independent unbiased study to back up my design and idea. It depends what your idea/product/service is, but for the Patney the WellSleep Centre – Otago University was the perfect fit to conduct an independent study to verify its effectiveness.

What do you think makes you a good entrepreneur – do you need a certain personality type?

I am a pretty tenacious person. Starting a new business isn’t a walk in the park and there have been many hurdles and frustrations along the way – things that I couldn’t have even dreamed of before starting Patney. For example: pitching to investors this took a year, sourcing quality materials, the patent process; but that’s all part of the journey. No matter how much life/work experience you have you cannot possibly know everything. Be a good listener and pick up little gems along the way, seek help from mentors, advisors, business people who have been there before, engage professionals, investors, all play a key part in the success of a business.

Do you have any final advice for anyone wanting to start their own business?

We only live one life so if you have a good idea, are passionate, driven and can dream big – go for it! Trust yourself, seek advice and support, and importantly financial backing to make it viable. But don’t think it’s going to be an easy ride – it’s hard work but worth it to see your dreams come to life.