February 9, 2021

Nail biting. Smoking. Yo-yo dieting.

Bad habits, die hard. Really hard.

Worldwide, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. That is more than malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined. Even though 7 out 10 smokers want to quit - breaking bad habits is hard.

This is where Alex comes in. A digital CBT-treatment, at your service. The app can be used both to quit smoking on your own, as a support with medication or to continue to stay smoke-free. You can basically tailor this therapeutist into your best friend. Alex Therapeutics believes that the future of healthcare is digital, and that problems that millions suffer from require solutions that can truly scale.


Now, our love story takes off at Norrsken House in STHLM. John Drakenberg Renander and Oliver Fleetwood started to work here back in 2017, yet founded Alex in 2018. Not only did we get to tag along in their marathon journey, but our partner @Nordea did too. They met at Norrsken and Nordea has connected them with investors, given coaching on the importance of currencies and funding. So this affair turned into a love triangle. In the best possible sense. 


Thanks to a new legislation in Germany, making it possible to become prescribed as a digital medicine, Alex is now expanding not only there, but to North America and India as well. Busy times at the Alex Office in other words. We had to run and stop John Drakenberg Renander, founder and CEO at Norrsken HQ in Stockholm, to hear the latest updates.


Hey! John!  You have the inside scoop on how we can break bad habits. What’s your biggest advice to change one's mindset?

  1. Don’t go for the “I will eradicate everything I don’t like about myself at the same time”-approach, you’ve already tried that and it didn't work. Choose one thing at a time and focus only on that.
  2. Explore what’s behind your bad habit by identifying the situations and emotions you feel as you do the habit. You will probably be surprised by what you find, and in most cases a bad habit functions as a coping mechanism to avoid feeling a certain feeling.
  3. Be kind to yourself, you are probably more awesome than you give yourself credit for.

Thanks! What are you the most excited about right now?

Every day we get messages from our patients telling us how they finally beat their addiction using Alex. It gives the team and I a lot of power and motivation to keep working hard. The new opportunity in Germany will prove a major challenge, but also be a great opportunity. 

You are expanding to India. That’s huge! What are you expecting from that?

We’re expecting to learn a lot! We just launched a stage 2 clinical trial in India with one of the most prominent health institutions in the country, Public Health Foundations of India. We strongly believe that India will be an incredible market for healthtech in the coming years and we are gearing for that already today.

In a dream world, how would Alex be incorporated into the healthcare system?

I think Sweden and the rest of the world has a lot to learn from what Germany is currently doing, to be reimbursed as a digital medicine by the statutory health insurance with zero cost to the patient is the ideal future!

How has the relationship with Nordea impacted your journey so far?

Before we met Nordea we viewed banks as institutions that take care of our money. Our relationship with Nordea has truly changed that, and now we see them as a critical business partner. They have been supportive through numerous fundraisings and when we’ve entered new markets. There’s a lot to consider during those tough periods and it feels great to not only have a bank at your side, but a real partner.

Give us more! What does the future hold?

You will be more likely to be prescribed a smart AI based digital medicine by your doctor than a pill for many therapeutic areas in a few years, with twice the effect and no side effects.

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