For Anna Luisa, the journey to entrepreneurship was not an easy one, but she has no regrets. She tells us what it takes to run your own company and shares wise advice for anyone else considering going down this path.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Not at all. I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs and studied biosciences at university, but I took a module that was business-related and fell in love with entrepreneurship. I love coming up with ideas and I write business plans for fun. Putting something into the world that isn’t already there – that fascinates me.
Where did the idea for Impli come from?
I had a really stressful job in which I worked long hours. One Sunday, I went to the office to pick up some documents, only to find I’d forgotten my key card – and it was a 2-hour return journey to get it. I thought, there must be a better way to get inside a building. So I researched solutions and one of them was implants. It occurred to me that unlocking a door was the tip of the iceberg in terms of how this technology could help. What if it could store your medical details or analyse your blood? And that’s where this whole journey began. I started Impli to launch implantable technology that would have a positive impact on people’s health.
Did you encounter challenges along the way?
Massive challenges. We spent a year building a small implant that holds your medical identity. We launched in March 2020… and we shut down in March 2020 because of COVID‑19! Thankfully we showed resilience and refused to give up. We spent six months focusing on the clinical use of implantable sensors. We all worked from 7 o’clock in the morning right through to 12 o’clock at night, throughout the pandemic, to make it work.
What kept you going?
We had great advocates who really understood our vision and gave us their backing. They told us that this was the future and it was going to work. We clung on to those positive people – they kept us motivated by showing us there was a way forwards.
You’ve now overcome those challenges and Impli is helping women undergoing IVF. Could you tell me more?
Timings are key to increase the chances of success for women undergoing IVF. We’ve developed an implantable device that allows women to have high-precision IVF treatment by monitoring their fertility hormones in real time. The device sits underneath a woman’s skin and she can use her phone to scan it. Her hormone levels are sent to a clinician, who can tell her when it’s the right time for an injection or to come in for the egg retrieval or implantation process. It’s accurate and a lot easier for women than going to the clinic on a daily basis to have a blood sample taken, then having to wait half an hour for the results.
You benefited from the Vanguard Programme. How did it help your company?
Biopôle’s Vanguard Programme promotes entrepreneurship and gives companies access to a huge network in the Lausanne area. Originally we were a UK-based company and wanted to go to Switzerland, so the programme helped us to integrate into the ecosystem there. Unlike other accelerator programmes that cover the basics of how to run a business, it was tailored to our specific needs, and we were introduced to many stakeholders from different companies. We massively grew our network. It helped us to shape our business and position ourselves in a more mature way. We wouldn’t be here without them!
What are your tips for young entrepreneurs?
- Be prepared for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Sometimes you feel like you’re ten feet beneath the ground and nothing is working, while at other times you’re up in the sky and everything’s great. Before you decide to be an entrepreneur, make sure you’re happy with the pressure that goes with it.
- Take a progress-driven approach.Just go out and do, do, do. Don’t sit on one step for too long. If you don’t make decisions quickly enough, you’ll stall, and this can have a huge impact. Don’t sit on a lot of data or information, either – acting now will save time in the long run.
- Have the courage to persevere. You’ll need to find out things you don’t want to know and hear feedback you don’t want to hear. Don’t give up when someone says no. Don’t give up when someone says you’re crazy. Every morning, get up, sit at your desk and work until it’s done. And do that for the next ten years!
- But… don’t work too hard either. You can’t give your best when you don’t have a balance. You lose perspective and you get really anxious – I learned that the hard way. Find things that bring you joy.
And what brings you joy?
I’ve got a bucket list and I love working through it. The latest item on there was learning to play the trumpet, so I’m learning to play the trumpet! I did a triathlon last year and I’m going to the Dolomites to do a ski tour soon.