“We’ve been around since 2015 and we’re making £10m revenue a year with sales from across the globe, yet many consumers won’t have heard of us because we really haven’t promoted ourselves. Our sales have all come from word of mouth and repeat purchases.”
These are the somewhat surprising words of marketing expert Dave Wright, chief executive officer at Performance Lab, who has spent nearly a decade focused on developing science-backed supplements for cognitive health.
The first of the entrepreneur’s four brain-focused brands, ‘Mind Lab Pro’ (MLP), launched in 2015, offering a scientifically-backed multi-botanical supplement which has been found to boost memory and reaction times.
The supplement contains: Citicoline; Phosphatidylserine; Maritime pine bark extract; Bacopa Monnieri; Lion’s Mane mushroom; L-Tyrosine; L-Theanine; Rhodiola Rosea; and B vitamins.
The brand was a result of Wright’s previous business – he had built a website in which he brought together health and nutrition
information and monetised this with advertising from health and nutrition brands.
“I became really interested in the subject and got deep in the rabbit hole of nutrition science and it became apparent to me that everything we were promoting was not as good as it could be,” he tells NutraIngredients.
“Ultimately, MLP has been a labour of love for me as I essentially just wanted to create something that I wanted to take myself. The aim of the supplement is to give an extra 5-10% brain performance boost on top of what you can get through optimising your diet.”
It was Wright’s fascination with optimising his own health that led him to take a blood test to check-out his own levels, leading to a new journey of discovery and his next business venture.
“I got a blood test done and I was really shocked to discover that I had vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I was the healthiest person I knew, eating a wholefoods healthy diet and doing everything right, as far as I was aware.
“That took me on a path of research in which I discovered a shocking problem in the modern world - soil quality degradation has led to a depletion in the vitamin and mineral content of our whole foods, so even when we are eating a varied whole food diet, we can still be deficient.
“As I delved further into how to support my body with supplements, this led me to discover that many may not work. Often, supplements are synthetic, isolated forms of the vitamin without any of the co-factors that would be present within the whole food. Our body has evolved to require the full spectrum of co-factors in order to utilise the vitamin effectively. If we ask the body to pull co-factors from elsewhere then we put a strain on the body.”
Looking to provide a solution to this problem, he launched Performance Lab in 2018 in which he developed a wide range of capsule supplements utilising patented ‘NutriGenesis’ technology to create ‘lab grown’ vitamins, minerals and amino acids which mirror the composition of the nutrient in nature.
He claims: “Our patented MicroGenesis technology allows us to create vitamins and minerals which are structurally identical to the vitamins you get from whole foods.”
The supplements include formulas targeting specific concerns such as sleep, vision, mind, and energy, with capsules made from cultured tapioca (a prebiotic fibre), and zero fillers of binders.
Additionally, the entrepreneur has created a nootropic pre-workout named ‘Pre Lab Pro’ which provides a pre-workout boost without the usual jitters or the crash.
The product utilises a 25x concentrated beetroot extract to unleash nitric oxide, alongside Setria L-Glutathione and L-Citrulline, and natural caffeine with L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine and NutriGenesis vitamins and minerals to help balance the side effects that usually come with caffeine consumption.
And to complete his plethora of innovations, Wright says he was keen to create products to rival the ‘health’ snack bars that have proliferated the market, especially those following the ‘high protein’ health agenda.
“We are eating so much more protein than we need now. Initially protein shakes were popular with body builders at the gym
because they were taking loads of steroids and were told they therefore had heightened protein requirements.
“But then it’s just spiralled and spiralled as marketers have jumped on the band wagon and started promoting it to the masses in every form imaginable.
“Ultimately, the brain needs carbs to function, that’s why we crave sugar when we’re tired. Our bars don’t shy away from slow-release complex carbs from plants which are also a source of prebiotic fibre, essential for gut health.”
Wright has developed a range of plant-based snack bars under the brand ‘Nu:tropic’, with ingredients such as oats, flaxseeds, chicory root syrup, fruit, nuts, and fortified with ‘brain-boosting’ nootropics like: omega-3 DHA, Choline, phosphatidylserine, vitamins, minerals, and prebiotic fibre.
Moving into F&B
Realising that all his brands will appeal to a similar pool of consumers, all these products are currently being amalgamated under the Performance Lab company.
Next, Wright is working to develop more functional food and drink solutions with brain benefits.
“I think the lack of emphasis on brain health is crazy. Frankly, the brain is by far the most important organ that we have so why would we not focus on that when our ability to optimise our performance is huge.”
Want to hear more? Performance Lab is billed to speak at NutraIngredients Europe's newly branded Active Nutrition Summit in Amsterdam from October 9-11.
An evolution of the brand's prominent annual Sports & Active Nutrition Summit, year’s event will provide delegates with insights into the increasingly holistic and mass market view of sports nutrition, from some of the leading names in the industry.
Content pillars will cover all the hottest topics in the industry today including cognitive health and esports, women’s health, life-stages nutrition, and personalisation.