What is biohacking? If we simplify the term, it means a blend of science and technology to improve our health, well-being, and overall performance (1).
Available web reports suggest it is an enormous market, with VC Bay (2) estimating that the biohacking market worldwide was about 12 billion USD in valuation with an expectation to reach at least 54 billion USD by 2027, at 20% CAGR.
Biohackers at one end of the spectrum make small lifestyle and dietary changes like intermittent fasting. On the other end, there are “grinders,” a subculture of biohackers who optimize their bodies using tools like CRISPR injections and subdermal tech implants (5). Are you finding everything to be pretty hard to grasp? Well, because it is.
Even though legal, ethical, and moral considerations build greater gray areas in the largely unregulated arena, we can’t deny that the drive to optimize ourselves is a significant market.
Unlock Significant Opportunities With Biohacking
Biohacking has varying integrity of the science, which gives it a DIY nature, driving numerous hackers onto online platforms to freely share their experiences and knowledge (6).
These relatively new communities have already started to unlock significant opportunities.
It took one r/Biohackers subreddit member who noticed the requirement for a customizable health tracking application. Then, with the help of constant community feedback, he launched Bearable within a year. It now has more than 100k downloads and raved reviews. It offers premium subscriptions at over 27.99 USD a year (7, 8, 9).
When we are talking about opportunities in the biohacking space, there are few apparent themes that we came across:
- Biohackers need data. The thirst for metrics is building white space in data collection, analysis, and storage. Businesses can look to disrupt the 25 billion USD lab testing industry, such as EverlyWell for biohackers (10).
- Such wealth of data unlocks a world of personalization. Companies can learn about their customers and take personalization to the next level.
- “Biohacking” – the term is becoming increasingly popular. Businesses can monetize the trend with branding to position well-known health and wellness products as biohacking opportunities.
In short, it all comes down to our desire to be the best version of ourselves with biohacking.
As per biohackers, our genetic information and biological optimization should be open source and democratic so everyone can evolve organically or inorganically as per their intelligent design. They encourage the democratic, DIY technological optimization of the human race.
Sub tribes of the biohacking ambition include:
- Bio Punks: An anarchist subculture utilizes cyborg-style body modifications like implanted illuminated jewelry or working devices for functional or aesthetic purposes.
- Grinders: A subsect of bio punks, an anarchist DIY body hackers who implant functional cybernetic technology in their bodies to be living cyborgs. They surgically implant DIY technological devices, which they call “wetware.” It includes implants such as RFID, radio frequency identification microchips in hands, inserting magnets into fingertips, etc.
- DIY Biologists: Do-it-your-self biological, social movement where individuals study and practice biology and gene therapy methods similar to other formal research institutes.
- Nutrigeomicists: They are a group of people who use “Nutrigenomics” – foods or supplements to control nutrition to “hack” their biology to optimize their longevity and overall health.
- Open-Source Transhumanists: These individuals believe in extending human life, happiness, and health with the ultimate goal of ending suffering and gaining immortality. They also believe that people should have access to technologies like cyborg modifications, genetic engineering, and brain-neural interfaces that can serve transhumanist goals.
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Elon Musk has proposed that we will need computer chips implanted in our brains in the future to compete with artificial intelligence. Notably, he has already invested in a venture named Neuralink to do it (11).
Simultaneously, with CRISPR gene technology getting more sophisticated, designer babies are also becoming a reality.
With cyborgs and biological technology advancing at an exponential rate, people with no access to such technologies find themselves left behind super-human cyborgs who can manage to enhance themselves and their offspring.
Hence, biohackers are looking to democratize the technology via experimenting, DIY learning, and then sharing the knowledge to avoid genetic and digital inequality.
In August 2018, Chrissy Teigen and Kim Kardashian posted pictures of themselves sporting what seemed to be implanted, electronic bio-punk style “jewelry” on their social media feed.
However, those posts later turned out to be fake news, a publicity stunt for an art project called A.Human, which explores the future potential of biological implants as body art. Fake or not, the campaign indicated that the bio-punk aesthetic is on its way to being mainstream.
As per a report by Research and Markets (12), the global biohacking market would reach 52 billion USD by 2027.
Biohackers are implementing technology for functional or aesthetic changes to their bodies. For example, Artist Neil Harbison has color blindness; hence he only used to see objects in grey color. Later, he and his team created software that transposes colors into vibrations via a head-mounted camera extension (13).
The key drivers of the biohacking market include increasing awareness about biohacking and the prevalence of chronic diseases worldwide. Recently, the coronavirus pandemic also led to a surge in the market growth with increasing R&D activities, leading to anticipations for further market growth.
Meanwhile, Salvia Bioelectronics, a startup based in Dutch, is creating an implantable neurostimulation device to control chronic migraines. During its early R&D stages, the company secured a fund of 1.8 million EUR in 2019. In addition, multiple smaller startups like CVRx (based in USD) have secured over 340.6 million USD, and Setpoint has secured over 84.3 million USD. While CVRx develops implants for heart failure treatment, Setpoint is working on neuro devices to treat conditions like arthritis and Crohn’s disease. All of these indicate excellent opportunities for biohackers.
We have come across five key areas of interest, and as the movement enters the mainstream, more opportunities are bound to come.
- Personalized supplements
- Microdosing and Psychedelics
- Non-psychedelics Nootropic
- Biohacking Wearables
- Mental Fitness
Personalized Biohacking Supplements
Even though there is no sufficient evidence of benefits, people worldwide take dietary supplements. There are estimations that the global personalized supplement market would reach 4.3 billion USD by 2023 from about 281 million USD at about 98% CAGR (14).
Biohacking supplements would be easy for people looking to make positive changes without a complete dietary overhaul. It has made personalized options the new superstar of the supplement space.
Entrepreneurs can focus on personalized biohacking supplements for growing niches from immunity to muscle health.
Businesses can also use branding to educate and position already popular options like probiotics, calcium, multivitamin, etc., as biohacking opportunities.
Viome is already offering personalized gut health supplements based on at-home microbiome testing (15).
Businesses can also work with medical professionals to utilize at-home testing. For instance, you can offer blood tests to find a range of vitamin deficiencies (16). As per Similarweb, Sonora Quest Laboratories, a company that offers mobile phlebotomy services, is already getting over 550k visits a month on average (17).
You can also create a seamless modern app for your services. It can include thorough lifestyle questionnaires that track consumers’ needs and update biohacking supplement recommendations accordingly.
Another way you can enter the space includes DNA-based personalized supplements. For instance, certain genes can put us at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency (18).
Microdosing and Psychedelics
Microdosing, the practice of consuming tiny, sub-hallucinogenic doses of psychedelic substances, is gaining traction (21).
Even though only a small scale of research is done in space, studies are rising, and ongoing legislative changes worldwide in favor of therapeutic psychedelics can boost future research (22). Canada is already pioneering the way with psychedelic acceptance (23).
These changes have contributed to a flood of funding splashing into psychedelic startups, a recent round being Beckley Psytech, a UK-based startup’s oversubscribed 80 million USD fundraise for research concerning toad venom (23, 24).
Similar to CBD snacks, gummies, and drinks taking off after their legalizations, multiple products infused with psychedelics would be next to trend onto the market.
Businesses where microdosing is legal, can enter the market with high-end D2C options. Subscription services for psychedelic products can also offer a strong niche opportunity with D2C microdosing guides and starter kits.
According to Similarweb, a Dutch psychedelic microdosing company, Earth Resonance (27), had over 356k site visitors in March. Considering an average CRO of 2.86% (28) and a 53 USD starter-pack price, it puts its potential March 2021 revenue at about 556k USD a month within a year of its launch.
Businesses can also consider niching down within the psychedelic space with options for work performance or leisure products for microdosing to reconnect with nature.
Experiences such as ayahuasca retreats and psilocybin are other high-growth areas. Synthesis, a startup from the Netherlands, offers 3-days psilocybin retreats for 3k USD, and they are consistently sold out (29).
In an interview with Sifted (30), Robert Nass, founder of Earth Resonance and a microdoser, stated that “support with the journey for first-time microdosers of psychedelic users can be a significant market going on since initial two weeks can be pretty challenging and emotional.”
As psychedelics become mainstream, there will be rising demand to ensure comprehensive solutions that offer support and medical monitoring.
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Nootropics are substances with a positive mental skills impact (31).
There are two niches businesses can leverage in this space:
COVID-19 has driven changes in telemedicine laws, allowing doctors to prescribe certain drugs that previously needed in-person doctor consults.
Hims is already prescribing drugs online for conditions like Premature ejaculation, performance anxiety, and depression. You can use Hims business model for other drugs with biohacking implications.
For instance, you can leverage modafinil, biohackers’ favorite prescription nootropic.
BuyModa is one such company targeting this space.
Businesses can capitalize on such tactics with prescription drugs for biohacking as long as they follow the country’s laws.
Here is a step-wise guide for you:
- Monitor platforms like Google Trends and Reddit to track what people are looking for in the niche
- Put together a basic platform focusing on a niche
- Collaborate with a medical group or virtual doctor
- Ask prospective customers to fill a questionnaire for your virtual doctor to review
- Leverage companies like Truepill to fulfill the prescription and deliver D2C
You can use the same strategy discussed above with OTC nootropics in high demand: track what people ask and build a platform focusing on a single niche.
Popular examples include CBD, worth over 108 billion USD by 2028 (32), a cognitive-booster apoaequorin with no proven benefits, caffeine, omega-3, ashwagandha, l-theanine, and alpha GPC.
There are expectations that the overall market for wearable tech will double over the upcoming five years to reach 265 billion USD (33).
Wearables are among the highly accessible biohacking form. They also offer consumers the ability to easily enter and analyze metrics for a broader range of biohacking practices.
Whoop, a startup recently valued at 1.2 billion USD, is leading the innovation in the area; similar solutions you can adapt in the market include blood and nervous system metrics.
There are two interesting trends in the space:
Leveraging Medical Technology
There is an ongoing movement to democratize medical technology and bring more streamline to D2C
- Elite HRV, a startup offering finger heart rate monitors to masses, recently secured 4.5 million USD (34)
- Supersapiens, a real-time glucose tracker, secured 13.5 million USD in VC this April (35)
- Biohackers are already using wristbands by NeoSensory that detects infrared light to aid hearing
- Kernel, a startup that measures brand for esports, performs in bringing neuroscience to gaming
There are forecasts that the neuromodulation market will reach 8.8 billion USD by 2025. It has traditionally been focused on neurodegenerative disorders and pain management like spinal cord stimulation for sciatica.
However, these days, there has been a movement to create neuromodulating products for mainstream adoption.
For instance, Sharper Sense recently secured 425k USD seed funding for its wearable that optimizes brand state for perception via direct stimulus of the vagus nerve. Another startup named Flow Neuroscience recently secured nine million USD for its headset that treats depression. Apollo Neuro, also named a “wearable hug,” secured 6 million USD this May for its 349 USD wristband with vibration modes that boost focus, energize, or relax.
As the technology advances and more clinical trials are conducted, wearable neurotech can compete with nootropics and psychedelics in the biohacking brain run.
Businesses can watch out for medical tech and find ways to leverage new products as they become available.
As biohacking wearables take off, the market for various aesthetic add-ons and straps can boom. Unique brand collaborations and limited editions can be the success’s secret sauce (36).
Witnessing a boom since the pandemic, the nascent mental fitness market is likely to transform over the upcoming years. Notably, the concept of mental fitness is different from mental health and similar to physical fitness (37, 38).
Opportunities in the market include:
Mental Fitness Boot Camps
The space can target two niches:
- Teenagers and young men looking for an ideal passage into adulthood
- All adults looking to fast track mental fitness
Businesses are already tapping into the second niche. A startup called Wimp2Warrior recently secured 7.5 million USD for its 5-month program that charges about 2k USD to prepare others for an MMA fight.
The program’s goal is not to get fit; it is about having a pivotal mental change in life. At present, the company is licensing out its program and collecting revenues from over 80 participating gyms.
Entrepreneurs can niche down and create mental fitness programs with multiple focuses like general survival vs. military-style training, lengths like weekdays vs. weekends, age groups, and targets like recreational, corporate, etc.
Content and Courses
Another way to capitalize in the market is by offering quality content for people looking to enhance their mental fitness at their own pace.
You can go for virtual apps and courses that offer accountability and community aspects. We can see the future being in mental fitness versions of Strava, Headspace, and Peloton.
Other niches can include collectible editions of Stoicism publications, stories of mental resilience, podcasting content, and modern bite-sized content like newsletters.
Mental Fitness Club
In the upcoming years, we may see mental fitness getting mainstream attention as physical fitness, an 81 billion USD industry (39), with courses and coaches including everything from meditation to psychology and neuroplasticity techniques.
Startups are already coming up in this space: The Soke, a London-based startup launched in 2020, markets itself as a mental fitness center. The Well from New York is also taking a similar approach with a nonclinical and luxurious approach to mental wellness, with initial sessions starting from 800 USD.