We caught up with Lincoln, Thrivous CEO, to discuss the inspiration for his brand, his commitment to transparency, and what he sees as the future of his business (He says it’s something called Geroprotectors!)
1. What did you do before starting Thrivous? How did your interest in nootropics begin?
Professionally, I’ve worked in the software, medical, and biotechnology industries for over two decades, for organizations including Ancestry.com, Merit Medical, and the OS Fund. My formal education is in business and the humanities. And I’m also a founder of both the Christian Transhumanist Association and the Mormon Transhumanist Association, which advocate the ethical use of technology to expand human abilities, as well as the complementarity of such advocacy with traditional religious cultures.
I’ve been into programming and philosophy for most of my life. Both require long periods of focus. But like everyone else, I’ve gone through periods of time when negative mental states make my work more difficult. During those periods, I generally try to ensure I’m getting adequate sleep and regular exercise. Weight training is my favorite kind of exercise. And, years ago, I started using creatine to help with that. One day, while reviewing research related to creatine, I came across some clinical studies that indicated creatine may improve cognition. And I wondered how much of the cognitive benefit I had been experiencing from exercise might have been facilitated by creatine. So I began using creatine more often, even on days when I wasn’t going to the gym. And I began looking at studies for other substances that could improve cognition. Soon, impressed by the studies and personal results, I had added rhodiola, theanine, bacopa, fish oil, and melatonin to my daily diet. And since that time I’ve added several others.
2. What made you decide to go out on your own and start a nootropics company?
After working in the corporate and consulting worlds for a long time, I decided I wanted to get back into the entrepreneurial world. So I joined a startup, The World Table, that aims to revolutionize digital reputation. I also launched my own startup, Discerner, that is developing AI for analyzing, comparing, and composing documents. However, neither was gaining financial traction as quickly as I had hoped.
One day, while looking at all my nootropic bottles, Dorothee, my wife, suggested that we should start a business selling nootropics. After all, she reasoned, my friends were often asking me for advice. And there had to be a more convenient way to help people navigate the complexity of nootropics. She told me she would set up a meeting with a chemist. And I told her I’d check into market interest. Within a week, we launched Thrivous. And within a month, Thrivous began selling our first product, Clarity.
3. Your brand is EXTREMELY committed to transparency and research, can you tell me a bit more about that?
Before launching Thrivous, I faced several all-too-common challenges with nootropics. Some products contain ingredients for which there’s little research. Others contain ingredients for which there’s much research, but the research shows they simply don’t work. Most products hide the quality and quantity of their ingredients behind secret formulas. And the few with open formulas tend to be far more expensive than buying their ingredients individually. All of these challenges reduce consumer trust.
So we set out to change that, and build a stronger business based on the trust of our customers. Thrivous bases all of its formulas on multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies on humans — not just anecdotal testimony, not just one study, and not just tests on rats or in vials. Thrivous publishes the formulas for all of its products openly and completely. And we also publish certificates of analysis and quality for all of our products, sharing all test results from our suppliers and manufacturers. These practices make Thrivous truly exceptional among nootropic vendors.
Beyond nootropics, too, research and transparency are core values at Thrivous. Our mission is to help our customers access technology with the greatest potential to improve their brains and bodies. This is an audacious and intimate endeavor. And whatever success we might have in its pursuit will be in large measure consequent to cultivating a relationship of trust with our customers.
4. Thrivous has a super legit board of directors. How were you able to develop those relationships?
Reflecting our commitment to research, Thrivous has a science advisor board that consists of physicians and bioscientists that inform ongoing product and service development. Dr. Cory Funk is a bioscientist at The Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Dr. James Zebrack and Dr. Jordan Roberts are physicians at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. And Dr. Michael Ferguson is a neuroscientist at Cornell University in New York.
I’ve known Dr. Funk, Dr. Roberts, and Dr. Ferguson for many years. We met because of common interest in the ethics of emerging technologies, and we’ve developed lasting friendships. More recently, Dr. Roberts introduced me to Dr. Zebrack, whose interest in dietary supplements to complement conventional medicine was a perfect fit for Thrivous. I feel honored to work with such advisors.
5. How have nootropics changed your life?
Like most people, I’ve faced challenges with stress and concerns about long-term cognitive well-being. Nootropics have helped me better manage those challenges and concerns, and given me more control over my mental states. I work more productively longer. I fall asleep more quickly when I want to. I stay awake longer with greater attention when needed. And I gain peace from research that suggests nootropics can reduce the long-term cognitive symptoms of aging.
6. What is the greatest story you’ve heard from a customer that has come as a result of taking a Thrivous product?
I don’t have permission to share most of the stories customers have shared with me. And stories are subjective, of course, reflecting many variables, both recognized and not. So they’ll always be only anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of nootropics. But with that as context, I can share product reviews that Thrivous customers have posted publicly. Here’s one, from Linda Gaya:
“As a mother of a 17 year-old, I am mostly concerned this year about my boy graduating from high school, a major step towards future college studies (and I hope a bright career). We all wish the best for our kids, right?! I remember my last year of high school: long nights, countless graded projects, exams after exams, and the pressure of doing it all with honors. We all know the drill! Well, my son’s senior year is no different than mine was 30 years ago. Luckily there’s Clarity, a simple yet powerful supplement that has made such a difference in my son’s life: 2 months into the daily regimen of Clarity and he is able to concentrate more easily in class, has more stamina at the end of the day and has gained not only more confidence about his daily performance but has also seen his grades go up. Simple, efficient, easy to take… Clarity is part of my son’s everyday life and what a difference it has made! Thank you.”
7. Nootropics are booming right now. What excites you about the future of the category?
The rate of scientific research into nootropics is accelerating. Biotech is expanding our vision into unprecedented possibilities. And the traditional pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries are beginning to transform. I suspect we’re on the cusp of a health and longevity revolution that will make the information revolution look small in retrospect. And I expect that, in time, we’ll see nootropics evolve beyond what movies have depicted toward detailed personalization and even dynamic and interactive function. In other words, I think you’ll be able to take a pill that responds intelligently to the current state of your brain and enables you to make biochemical adjustments on demand, like brain-computer interfacing without surgery. That excites me!
8. What’s coming up for Thrivous in 2017?
Geroprotectors! In pursuit of our mission, Thrivous is expanding beyond nootropics into dietary supplements that slow aging processes and mitigate effects of aging. Unfortunately, we can’t yet stop aging, but there are still things we can do to manage it better while we’re watching rapidly expanding research in this area. Already, Thrivous has launched Alpha, which is a nootropic geroprotector. And customers can expect to see additional geroprotector products become available toward the middle of this year.
Thrivous is also exploring expansion into products and services beyond dietary supplements. If it’s technology that can improve brains and bodies, and if we can make it accessible, both from a cost and a convenience perspective, we’re interested.
9. Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your products?
Thanks for your invitation, James (Nootrolist Editor). I like the project you’ve started at Nootrolist, to review nootropics for effectiveness, safety, and value. And I admire the way you’ve started, welcoming feedback and interacting openly with others interested in the industry. I trust we can all benefit from your example. If you or your audience have any follow-up questions, I’d be happy to help.