It all started with Waikato woman Frances Anderson seeking a solution to her snoring problem, and now she sells her Patney sleep positioner nationwide, helping Kiwis gain a better night’s sleep.

Patney founder Frances saw the detrimental impact her snoring was having on her health, as well as affecting her family’s sleep. But it wasn’t until her husband told her one morning that she had scared him during the night when she momentarily stopped breathing, which meant she was heading towards sleep apnoea.

After many attempts to fix the problem, trying different anti-snore products including surgery without success, she felt fed up and exhausted. So, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

Frances has a love of design and textiles, interwoven with elements from her career of manufacturing, logistics and project management; an ideal grounding for a design-led start-up to help combat snoring.

It led to the creation of the Patney sleep positioner, a replacement pillow which, based on your individual height and weight, the natural latex positioner will support your head, neck and shoulders to open your airways to ensure a better night’s sleep.

“There have been many challenges along the way,” Frances said.

“It was quite a process to source the latex, create the final prototype and the hardest part was finding the right tool to be able to cut through the latex to create the design.”

Frances carefully considered where she sourced the product’s natural latex from before selecting a trusted latex foam specialist at a sustainably farmed plantation. She travelled to the overseas location to personally observe the whole process - from the tree which is tapped by hand, right through to the finished product.

“We are committed to working sustainably. The world needs more snore-free sleep, but not at a cost to the environment and the world we live in,” Frances said.

After a long process of intensive research and development, she knew that the product needed to be validated by authentic, credible sleep research, so it underwent an independent validation study by the WellSleep Centre at Otago University.

The study assessed the effectiveness of Patney in reducing snoring in participants who had either a snoring problem or mild obstructive sleep apnoea. Participants included a range of both male and female, aged between 42 to 61 and covered a cross-section of ethnicities and body compositions.

Results found that the Patney improved participants’ sleep quality with less restlessness. Within the participants’ partners, 89 per cent reported a reduction in their partner’s snoring.

After the success of the study, the Patney website went live two days before Christmas last year. The business name comes from Frances’ late mother Pat, who her grandchildren called Patney.

After a few soft sales to ensure the website and processes were all functioning correctly, they officially launched the site on March 16, which is ‘World Sleep Day’.

Frances said she wouldn’t have been able to create her start-up business without the help of Hamilton-based business incubator SODA Inc.

“They looked at my business idea and figured out what help I needed, pointed me in the right direction to experts who could help and mentor me to make my business work,” Frances said.

To help kickstart Patney, Frances was paired up with mentors who could help Frances with IT, IP, manufacturing, distribution and finance.

Frances said the business is currently taking “small steps” distributing the sleep positioner nationwide, however she will look into licensing it overseas in the future to export to other countries. She has also been asked several times about creating a travel Patney.

She often gets comments from customers who say they have more energy due because they’re now getting a full night’s sleep. Partners are also benefiting from a better sleep as well.

Prior to purchasing the Patney, Hamiltonian Mike Rolton said his snoring was out of control. His wife could not sleep because of the snoring and Mike could sleep but woke up exhausted.

“We had two totally exhausted people each morning looking to get to work with no energy. Since purchasing the Patney we now both sleep all night, and both wake up full of energy, looking forward to the day ahead,” Mike said.

“My snoring has gone, and it is the first time in 10 years that I leap out of bed looking forward to the day ahead.”

Patney is no longer a dream for founder Frances, it has become a reality to help control snoring for herself and many other Kiwi’s.

“To me, my Patney is my best friend, I can’t imagine my life without it.”

SODA Inc is a Hamilton-based business incubator, who works with founders from all industry sectors to create a customised program with the help and support they need and go to market on a case-by-case basis, both locally and internationally, to find the perfect advisor for them to work with.

Content provided by The Waikato Story.