News Article

Marissa Mayer and Mark Pincus invested in a startup that makes 'brain drugs' and chewable coffee
Date: Oct 13, 2015
Author: illian D'Onfro
Source: Business Insider ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: HVMN Inc of San Francisco, CA

Nootrobox wants to change the sketchy reputation associated with brain-boosting supplements.
The startup, founded by 20-somethings Michael Brandt and Geoffrey Woo, makes a variety of nootropics -- cognitive performance supplements often casually referred to as "smart" or "brain" drugs -- that purport to increase your memory, focus, and energy better than drinking coffee (and without the jitters).

"All these biohackers have been buying random powders off the internet for a while," Brandt told Business Insider. "People are already doing that, we just want to make it much more accessible."

People on Wall Street and in startup-land alike have been experimenting with ways to make their minds clearer and productivity higher through supplements, and Nootrobox combines their research with proprietary testing to make four supplements: Rise, Sprint, Yawn, and a new gummy coffee-replacement called Go Cubes.

Each one seeks to match a different desired effect and contains a combination of different supplements the FDA classifies as GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe," like caffeine, vitamins, L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, and bacopa monnieri, an herb known to reduce anxiety and improve memory.

With simple, clean packaging and monthly subscription options, Nootrobox has already been profitable for a while, Brandt says.

The company's mission of making brain nutrients for the masses piqued the interest of some Silicon Valley bigwigs like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, among others, who invested $500,000 in an angel round of funding for Nootroboox.

With the fresh cash, Brandt and Woo plan to hire more full-timers (versus contract work, like they currently use) to expand the product line and move towards the broader goal of not just selling pills and candies, but also giving customers a way to track health and wellness data and eventually personalize their Nootrobox supplements. The company wants to be the "welcome mat" for people who haven't tried nootropics, but eventually help people get as deep into "upgrading their brains" as possible.

"I think we'll be able to look back and refer to this as the era of 'dumb supplements,'" Brandt says. "In the future, what you take and when should be different than what I take, based on who you are, based on what you respond to and how."

Brandt and Woo attracted the attention of techie star-power like Mayer, Pincus, LendingHome CEO Matt Humphrey, and Foundation Capital partner Steve Vassallo, through a combination of networking, career history, and dumb luck.

Brandt met Mayer in 2011 when she personally hired him as part of Google's elite Associate Product Manager program and Pincus happens to work next door.