First of all, it’s not really an anti-aging startup. That’s one takeaway after sitting down with the founders of Elysium Health last week.
The newly launched company is headquartered in New York City, with a network of advisors worldwide. It’s out to sell nutritional supplements to consumers online to improve their personal health, not necessarily to forestall the aging process. For more background, I met chief operating officer Dan Alminana, chief scientist Leonard Guarente, and CEO Eric Marcotulli—pictured above, left to right—at a café near MIT (which serves admittedly unhealthy fare like double espressos and butter-rich pastries).
Guarente is a professor of biology at MIT, best known for his research on genes related to aging and his previous involvement with biotech companies Elixir Pharmaceuticals and Sirtris Pharmaceuticals.
Elysium doesn’t have “pharmaceuticals” in its name and is taking a different tack—it’s bypassing the FDA regulatory process and appealing directly to consumers with its mix of deep science and business experience. Marcotulli and Alminana are a couple of young-gun health nuts who planned parts of their company in the gym; Marcotulli is a former partner with Sequoia Capital, and Alminana was previously vice president at J.P. Morgan.
But at the end of the day, this is a consumer health company. And what consumers want to know is: what can they do to be healthier, starting today? (Not counting ordering Elysium’s products, of course—the first one is a blue pill called Basis that incorporates research on NAD, a compound involved in cell metabolism.)
I posed the personal health question to the Elysium founders, and here are their answers, boiled down to one piece of advice each.
Marcotulli: Take “10,000 steps a day.” This is a widely recommended target for an active lifestyle, and it amounts to walking almost 5 miles.
Alminana: Watch your diet—eat a mix of “greens, protein, and healthy carbs.”
Guarente: “Weigh yourself every morning, and have in mind for yourself the perfect body weight.” That can be from a body-mass table, or just from a healthy time in your life when your pants fit right.
So there you have it. Meanwhile, Elysium will continue to rethink models of health and wellness across a wide spectrum of consumers. As Marcotulli puts it, “Health is a mindset, not a demographic profile.”