It’s been a good few years since I’ve written or blogged about anything, but I think now is a better chance than ever.
For those wondering, my name is Filip. I’m a 23 year old living in Brisbane, Australia. I hold a degree in Mechanical/Aerospace engineering and I am one of the founder’s of Neuratech, a cognitive enhancement company.
I’m going to use this platform to primarily share the knowledge we’ve gathered on nootropics/optimising performance, lifestyle habits/routines, our business journey, and other interesting topics on technology and the future.
I’d like to take this time now though to share a little bit about our journey in business so far, what we’ve learnt and the path ahead for us. Hopefully I can give a little bit of insight into where we think the supplement/food industry is going, particularly in nootropics, and where we plan to place ourselves in this arena.
Most of you reading this will be aware of the brand that myself and Daniel have built, Neuratech.
Both Daniel and I recognised the need for a sustainable and natural alternative to the huge amount of energy drinks and pharmaceutical “Smart drugs” that students were consuming (including ourselves) to get through uni life and exam period. We began researching. We noticed the huge trend towards this optimised cognitive performance movement, utilising supplements known as “Nootropics”, particularly in the U.S. We didn’t see much pick-up in mainstream Australia, but we knew it would only take a few years until they became big here too. We knew this was the prime time to take action, and to build a brand that epitomised the cognitive enhancement movement.
Neuratech was a project born out of the iLab accelerator at the University of Queensland in mid 2017. This is where we learnt the method of the “lean startup”, a popular term in startup circles which basically outlines the most economical and least painful way to build a business that can scale. We received mentorship, a small grant, and most importantly, some accountability.
Despite all this learning, we made a plethora of silly mistakes which can all probably be attributed to a lack of patience and general experience in business.
We conducted extensive research, met with manufacturers, created websites, did preliminary designs, rushed user testing and off we went. We pushed to get a product to market to see how the world would respond.
This product was Claritea. Claritea was an iced-tea flavoured Nootropic powder, designed to give you a boost throughout your day, and provide some long term benefit to users. We took Claritea to market in 2018, got into a handful of supplement retailers, exhibited at the Brisbane Health and Fitness Expo and sold it through our online store.
Claritea was good, but maybe it wasn’t great. We knew what we were trying to do, and we knew it had value, but was it really a product our customers wanted or needed? Who even was our customer? These are all questions we couldn’t answer. But should have been able to.
This is why we decided to discontinue Claritea. We started off on the wrong foot. The product didn’t meet our initial vision. We made assumptions about the product, our customers and our growth without any proper validation.
This is important, and most companies/people probably wouldn’t want to divulge how or why they went wrong. But I think it’s super important to be transparent, and hopefully if you’re reading this you can learn from some of the mistakes we made.
These are a few of the fundamental reasons we believe Claritea wasn’t the right product, and didn’t take off like we had ‘hoped’ it would:
- It wasn’t in line with our original vision (We wanted to create an upgraded tea with nootropics added, not a powder that resembled pre-workout/aminos or other supplements)
- We rushed to get a product to market without testing or identifying if it solved a real need or problem or if anyone actually wanted it.
- We had no idea who our ideal customer was, and who we were trying to sell too. We took a niche product and tried to sell to a mainstream audience and hope for the best (not smart)
- We were fundamentally asking our customers to replace their daily coffee’s/tea’s/energy drinks with this “new thing”. Which probably isn’t a good idea. Yes, our product worked. But people love coffee for the taste, the experience, the social and cultural aspect. Are people really wanting to replace this with something different that they know so little about?
So that leads us to where we are now. No product on the market. Back to the drawing board.
We are trying to do it right this time. Extensive customer interviews. Extensive product testing. Meeting with anyone and everyone we can to determine how we can impact the supplement/food industry.
We’ve partnered with a new manufacturer in Australia, that can provide us with some great products, and unique, patented ingredients that not everyone has access to.
We’ve gone out of our way to meet with a lot of the prominent companies in the industry to learn as much as we can, and soak up knowledge.
Now we’re on the verge of Neuratech V2.
We’ve got some products lined up that are currently undergoing R&D. We’re going to run signup campaigns to begin generating interest, and testing to see who responds to which product the most. Then we will begin pre-orders and continually refining our product proposition until we know exactly what problem we are solving, and for who.
We’ve put a lot of thought into where we want to go with this, what is really our end goal with this company? It can’t just be nootropic stacks and basic supplements right?
The problem is, it is likely that supplements are only ever going to give incremental benefits, unless you’re deficient in particular vitamins/minerals.
The cost and complexity of discovering new natural ingredients or synthesising them in novel ways is huge, and the difficulty in patenting or reserving the rights to them makes it hard for companies to pursue it for commercial benefit.
Thus, we will more and more look to other technologies to help us get the most out of our bodies, whether that’s pharmaceutical drugs, stem cell therapy, gene therapies, brain-computer interfaces, or nanotechnology. These will all provide exponential improvements in the performance of the human system, rather than just incremental improvements.
But, that isn’t to say that supplementation and nutrition are completely void, not at all. At least for now they still serve incredible importance.
The trend we’ve noticed, like many other industries, is the rise of big data and tracking of information along with machine learning and other AI algorithms to provide actionable and personalised insights.
This is currently most prominent in fields such as self-driving cars, your social media news feeds, search engine results and product recommendations just to name a few.
However, health and the human body is now too becoming an information technology itself as exponentially increasing computer power means we can learn more and more about the body and for much less cost.
This can be seen very clearly in the progress of sequencing the human genome. The human genome project, which looked to sequence the first entire human genome, took about 15 years and $1–2 billion. That was in 1990.
Now, we can get our genome sequenced for about $1000 and it takes a matter of days.
This is ultimately where I see the supplement and nutrition industry going. Those that want to take care of their health, or optimise their performance and wellbeing in our uber-productive society, will want to get their products and food tailored specifically to them and their biology.
It will be the combination of AI and machine learning, with technologies such as genome and microbiome sequencing, that will let us create customised and personalised supplement/nutrition recommendations.
This is the ultimate end goal for our company, and where the future is going.
Combining these new, exciting technologies, with the stale and traditional supplement and nutrition industries to create ground-breaking products and advances.
For now, however, it is super important for us as a startup and company in this field to create the best products we can to suit the majority of people. We will use ingredients that have been thoroughly researched to create suitable stacks to optimise health and performance.
Eventually, partnering with universities and academia to do our own clinical trials, and be transparent with our customers as to the results and what we’ve achieved.
Slowly, but surely, we will look down the route of personalisation, and helping create custom supplements stacks tailored specifically to your own biology. Helping you get more, for less. Removing the need for a “cover all the bases” approach to supplementation and nutrition.
We have recently launched our latest nootropic, Enhance!
Enhance is our daily nootropic to support brain health, memory and learning. Check it out here.