Brain Food: Two Weeks Into Nootropics

Hi, you might remember me from such infomercials as…..

So I’m about two weeks into a nootropic called TruBrain and wanted to write a bit about my experience. Nootropics are essentially “vitamins for your brain,” and, while the term was apparently coined in 1972, it wasn’t until the last few years that it went ‘mainstream’ among my friends. I’ve tinkered with different types of Chinese herbs, traditional vitamins and supplements as well as other personalized forms of health optimization. Rather than go deep into my own research, most of what I try comes from trusted recommendations. You know, the people who are a little bit out there but not so experimental that I worry about downside side effects. Mostly I just assume that the worst thing possible is I piss away some money. Literally.

I spend New Year’s at an event that’s like a “Family Camp Meets Foo Camp” and this year noticed my friend James taking interesting packets of pills in the morning and afternoon. It was TruBrain and he swore by the effects. Online searches showed me a mix of neutral to positive reviews alongside some people who complained about price (apparently it’s 50%+ cheaper to buy the ingredients in bulk and make your own pills but COME ON).

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“Increased focus and recall, stability of mood” sounded pretty good to me so I ordered a few boxes. They sat on my desk until earlier this month when I began the “loading period” – 10 days where you let the supplement build up in your system and you start seeing benefits.  Thus far I’m impressed. Do I know 100% that it’s TruBrain and not a placebo effect or diet, seasonal, external factor? Of course not. But biggest impact has been elimination of a periodic afternoon lull in concentration. And I haven’t experienced any negative downsides.

If you want to try it out, here’s a referral link to save 20%. Note: some folks have told me they’re frustrated by the trial/billing process. I think you get put into an opt-out subscription or something like that. It wasn’t confusing for me but please be comfortable with it before you enter any credit card info.

I’m also generally interested in startups building businesses around personal health science (nootropics, microbiomes, etc) so if you’re an early stage founder in that area, I’d love to hear from you [].

Lastly, I reached out to the TruBrain team to ask some questions and they were gracious enough to respond.

Hunter: I found it interesting that TruBrain is a “five day a week” recommended use (workdays) versus daily. Is that a decision around the science of the product, or marketing? Or something else?

TruBrain: The configuration is a balance of science, marketing (or specifically pricing), and customer behavior. In other words; it’s enough of the raw materials to deliver the key benefits while hitting a price point and regimen that works for the majority of target market. That said, we do have quite a few subscribers on custom orders that use TruBrain 7 days a week. Here is a photo of the whiteboard from TruBrain’s early days when this decision was made:


Hunter: My introduction to TruBrain came via a friend in the tech industry. Does word of mouth play an usually important role in supplements like this? How does the company track and measure this channel?

TB: It does. There’s justifiable skepticism for people looking at our category of products, so word of mouth referrals is by far the best way for someone to discover our products. We have a referral program that we’re always tinkering with to measure and accelerate this channel.

Hunter: Do you foresee a future where TruBrain is formulated to each individual? Like, should my version of TruBrain be different than someone else’s? Is there a future in personalized nootropics? 

TB: Personalized nootropic formulas would be ideal for some people, however, we don’t believe there’s enough variance in results/performance to justify the amount of time and education that would require from consumers, or the added operational complexity. For example, a custom-made bike frame will probably give you the best performance, but most people are happy with buying something off the rack without the added cost ​, research, and  time  ​required to get​  it made​. Our goal is really to make nootropics as easy and accessible to mainstream consumers as possible, and our formulas are designed to deliver the best results for the vast majority of people in the middle of the bell curve. That said, we’re constantly tinkering with our formulas and model to best meet the demands of the market, and are certainly open to exploring mass customization as we scale.