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In our ongoing series of interviews with dynamic and successful entrepreneurs, we sat down with co-founder of Airinum, Alexander Hjertström, to discuss the business and his relationship to art.

4 min read

Alexander Hjertström co-founded Airnium in June of 2015. Since then the company has developed its modern breathing mask that is the core of the business. The emerging company reflects his ambition to explore global opportunities by bringing tech, innovation and social impact together. Despite early days Airnium has shipped make to more than 50 countries, since launching in early December last year.

What challenges are your business facing right now?
One of the main challenges is being a Swedish company based in Stockholm with customers in Asia, the Middle East and the USA – we are too far away from our customers and don't get the market insights fast enough.

Do you have any key values that drive your business ethics and culture?
Yes, we believe breathing air should be a human right. Our products provide a solution to the acute issue of air pollution. This is what the World Health Organisation claims is the world's single largest environmental health risk - killing more than 16,000 people every day. But more than that, we also want to get to the root causes of the problem to start making our world a cleaner place. Thus, as our mission statement, we aim to raise awareness on this topic to influence policy makers. This is something that permeate our culture, an urge to truly leave the world in a better condition.

During office hours, what does your social media diet consist of?
We slim our social media diet to constructive content on air, health and fashion. 

What does your art diet consist of?
We get inspired by urban settings and try to have art that capture just that. Our social media content are all shot in an urban environment. 

You have some arty-friends, what is your idea of them trying to get you interested in the art?
Frankly, I am not a big art connoisseur, yet. Well, art to me seems like wine. It really doesn't taste that good the first time, especially since you don't know much about it. But as you grow older, you learn to appreciate the small flavours and its rounded taste. And as you grow more knowledgeable about the grape and the region, drinking wine becomes more fun. Art seems to be the same way, only that you often seem to start appreciating art a bit later in your life.

Also, having friends who influence you could certainly have an impact. Personally, I believe I've got a bit of the art dust earlier in life than I would thanks to a friend of mine, Maria Daun. I have seen a few of the exhibitions that she has organised and each time I have learnt to appreciate something new. So being exposed to art, and having someone to explain it certainly helps.

Maria as in the Maria Daun of Bohman-Knäpper Gallery?

Do they invite you to the openings?
Yes, I have been invited several times.

So, when did you last visit an art event and why?
The last visit was a few months ago. I visited the exhibition because it was my friend’s opening and I really loved the one I had visited before.

What makes it attractive or not so attractive?
The attractive part is to learn more and be in a setting with knowledgeable people. The unattractive part is that it happens very rarely, and it often takes months until the next time, during these periods my art interest might cool off a bit.

Your business, Airinum have a positive mission, it that important to you?
It is paramount to us. In truth, the fact that Airinum has a social impact in combination with a good business opportunity was the reason it was founded in first place. Our goal is to both save lives and have a positive impact on our future climate.

To make it really scary for aspiring entrepreneurs out there - what is the toughest aspect of setting up your own thing?
The toughest thing is that you have to go all in, or nothing. You have to sell yourself, you have to live your company and put your financials at stake. It creates a hole in your private life. In order to make it, you have to have a clear goal and set your mind to it, because there will be times when you want to turn around and go back, but it won't be possible.