Entrepreneurs are always looking for a competitive edge. The latest phenomenon? “Smart drugs,” or nootropics, which some claim gives them unlimited energy, razor-sharp focus and increased concentration. Hoping to gain superhuman-like powers, an increasing number of entrepreneurs, founders and small business owners are popping pills like Modafinil (Provigil) to power through long days and pull all-nighters.
Smart drugs aren’t new – U.S. Air Force pilots, for example, were among the first to participate in Modafinil trials in the 1950s to increase alertness – however, the manner in which smart drugs are being used is. The drug of choice these days is the aforementioned, Modafinil, a prescription-only medication for narcolepsy. In the past few years, as research has begun to zero in on the benefits of Modafinil, and other like substances on healthy users, it’s become prevalent on the start-up scene for its side effect – increased brain function.
The reputation of cognitive enhancement also received a boost with the 2011 film Limitless starring Bradley Cooper as a “perfect” version of himself. High-profile, successful entrepreneurs such as Dave Asprey, CEO of The Bulletproof Executive, have done much to popularize this growing market, too, with his line of “Bulletproof®” products including coffee, powders and bars.
Nootropics are meant to increase brain function, enhance motivation and performance. Coined in 1972 by the Romanian Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, the word nootropic comes from the Greek words meaning, “mind” and “to bend/turn.” Most of these supplements and nutraceuticals work by making neurochemicals more available within your body, stimulating the nervous system, or increasing oxygen supply to the brain.
There are many different types and classes of cognitive enhancers out there, such as piracetam, noopt, L-carnitine, each with their specific performance-enhancing benefit, ranging from perfected vision to a faster metabolism. No perfect pill exists, some avid users, like Asprey, claim to down a cocktail of upwards of 15 pills each day. However, whether for improved memory, sharper focus, better vision, or increased energy, no matter the motivation, the end goal is clear – to turn a million-dollar idea into a billion-dollar idea.