A nootropics company with an insane valuation
SEASON 8 EPISODE 10
cognition enhancing supplements (nootropics)
Geoffrey Woo and Michael Brandt
$2,000,000 for 5%
Nootrobox (now HVMN) is the company that wants to help develop a better you through their nootropic supplements.
The company changed its name to HVMN (pronounced “human”) in mid 2017 and now uses the name Nootrobox for its collection of 4 nootropic blends: “Sprint” for energy and focus, “Rise” for memory, “Kado-3” for Omega-3 fatty acid support, and “Yawn” a natural sleep aid.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Nootrobox was conceived back in 2014 by founders Geoffrey Woo and Michael Brandt. Both Woo and Brandt developed their entrepreneurial spirit amongst the startup techie culture of Silicon Valley.
And in the little big bubble that is Silicon Valley, where people try to squeeze the productivity out of every second, biohacking is an undeniable part of the culture.
Shortly after meeting, Brandt and Woo immediately began seeking investors to help develop the idea and fund research into the products.
In 2015, the company successfully raised over $61,000 during their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. This was followed by $2.57 million in seed capital from the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, and other investors through AngelList – the investment platform where startups find angel investors.
In typical silicon valley startup style, the biohacking entrepreneurs asked for the highest valuation in Shark Tank history.
They came into the tank seeking a $40 million valuation for their chewable coffee GO Cubes, a coffee flavored gummy with the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee per serving.
All of the sharks have a hard time wrapping their heads around the valuation as well as the product.
Guest-shark Chris Sacca is worried about the long-term consequences, and goes out.
Lori feels they could’ve used someone more sales oriented to help better explain their vision, and goes out.
Kevin also goes out before adding that $40 million for sugar cubes scares him.
Robert thinks they didn’t do a good job of explaining the product, and goes out.
Mark doesn’t like the silicon-valley style valuation and he too also goes out.
LIFE AFTER SHARK TANK
Since the Shark Tank, the company continues to sell their GO Cubes, now in a variety of coffee flavors as a subscription or one-time order.
They’ve been featured all over the place and all the marketing they’ve invested in seems to be paying off.
HVMN is selling some of these supplements in the tens of thousands of units per year, having reached monthly subscription revenue of $3 million to $5 million in 2016, according to a source familiar with the company’s financials. HVMN says it generates sales in the “multimillions.”
They have also recently released Ketone, the world’s first ketone ester drink for improving training, recovery and performance.
The idea for Ketone first came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program which developed a product that could enhance warfighter performance.
DARPA funded biochemists invented the ketone ester drink that gains energy from ketones. Ketones are molecules formed by the breakdown of fat and is one of the main sources of fuel for humans after carbs, fats and proteins.
Through its partnership with Oxford University, HVMN is leveraging 10+ years and $60 million in research by one of the world’s leading universities and an agency of the U.S. Department of Defence.
Although primarily marketed as a drink for competitive athletes it is still available for sale to anyone. Its definitely on the pricey side but may also be worth a try if you’re into biohacking/bioenhancment culture.
HVMN doesn’t seem to be making waves amongst mainstream consumers who may be wary of what seem like “miracle pills”.
Overall, they’ve been getting pretty mixed reviews. Some feel they work and others don’t. Not everyone will experience the same effects for various reasons (i.e. differing physiology, brain chemistry etc.). The only way you’ll know if it will work for you, is to give it a try.
Ketone is available for sale through Amazon and the HVMN website.
If you’re interested in nootropics a try but aren’t quite convinced by Nootrobox/HVMN, here are a few alternatives: