Why Biohacking Is the Latest Major Startup Trend
Breaking down, and demystifying, what's going on with the new science of self-improvement.
You've probably heard of biohacking before. The term tends to be associated with microchip implants, DNA injections and overall creepy sci-fi vibes, and sometimes for good reason. Elon Musk, for example, has expressed interest in linking human brains to smartphones using his startup, Neuralink. He believes that since computers will eventually become smarter than all of us, we might as well be hyper-connected to them through our brains (or something).
But these stories are becoming increasingly common. There's even an entire movement that aims to transform human beings into cyborgs so they can live forever. To many tech entrepreneurs, those forms of biohacking might seem a little out there; too futuristic, not practical enough to guarantee financial success and even a bit scary. However, biohacking doesn't have to be so grandiose. The core of the movement is all about using biology to come up with solutions to improve human functioning and health. Even meditation and exercise can be forms of biohacking. Sleep remedies and cold treatments are among pretty well-established and mainstream biohacks.
As an entrepreneur, solving the problem of death might not be up your alley, but coming up with an immediate solution for stomach viruses or helping children regulate their water consumption might be. Just ask startup Gululu, which utilizes technology and gamification to reward children for tracking their water intake.
The key potential to this niche is prevention. Big pharma tends to focus a lot of resources on fighting sickness, but there's a shortage of effective products marketed toward generally healthy people who seek to enhance their everyday performance. Biohacking could be the solution, and it offers tech entrepreneurs an opportunity to fill the void big pharma leaves.
Take the issue of hangovers. Plenty of generally healthy people consume alcohol on a regular basis, whether a cocktail during happy hour or a glass of wine with dinner. But after a certain age, even moderate alcohol consumption comes at a cost. Biohackers are already working to eliminate that cost. CUUR, innovated by biotech startup Vital Technologies, targets the symptoms caused by limited-to-moderate alcohol consumption. The user consumes an aspirin-based solution an hour before their last drink. The active ingredients inside it, including an adaptogens and nootropics, target the causes of symptoms, such as headaches and dry-mouth, which typically follow alcohol consumption.
"There is an inherently wrong perception by the general public that biohacking means expensive biochips, mixing pharmaceuticals and rare botanicals for improved performance," confirms Amir Barzilay, founder and CEO of VitalTechnologies.
Biohacking can also come in the form of coffee. Created by biohacker Dave Asprey, bulletproof coffee's ability to burn fat and boost energy in the morning gained it popularity among keto advocates. You might be wondering how on earth coffee with a few added ingredients can be considered a biohack, but again, it all comes down to improving human functioning.
None of those biohacks are quite as intimidating as the headline-grabbing microchips that have dominated the discussion, but all are examples of entrepreneurs taking the initiative to enhance human lives through biological knowledge. Also, according to this AngelList page, no less than 542 investors are involved or interested in biohacking startups. That might motivate you to expedite the process from idea to inception.
In today's hypercompetitive world, the ability to optimize one's performance is crucial in determining success. Tech entrepreneurs have an opportunity to capitalize on that fact, along with the health and fitness trends that dominate Instagram discover pages everywhere. People generally want to be healthy, and biohacking is tech's way of helping them get there.
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