How Nerv became what everyone needs

by Get Nerv GetNerv

Nerv is upending a $200 billion industry, one bottle at a time.

Why people need Nerv

Managing stress and anxiety sucks. Mental health is complex and navigating the choices (See a therapist? Get a prescription? Meditate?) is overwhelming and expensive. Yet mental wellness is important for everyone, meaning the $200 billion industry is ripe for reinventing. Enter Nerv, the online stress-management-in-a-bottle maker that launched in February 2018. The concept was simple: Produce an effective, scientifically formulated product at an affordable price, available online to anyone, anywhere, and deliver it quickly, no questions asked. It worked: Nerv was completely funded on Indiegogo within a week, launched within a year, and is available online as well as across the country at gyms, pharmacies, and convenience stores.

Reinventing Relaxation

In the beginning, it was “how come there aren’t any ‘zen drinks’ to help people relax?” That quickly morphed into “let’s invent a category of products around relaxation.” My doctorate is in neuroscience, and throughout my time in school, I and everyone around me struggled with managing stress. Finding the right solution is complicated and choosing what works for you is a  difficult and confusing experience. It’s unlike buying anything else because there are no data points on our own minds we can use to compare various solutions or services. Who knows what imbalances are happening in our heads?

After months of research, formulation, and prototyping with hundreds of different ingredients, we learned that people are generally stressed and anxious due to being hyper stimulated by prevalent caffeine use (coffee, sodas, even teas!). From this finding, we decided to make one small solution that would restore balance to the brain an aid people in managing their stress and called it Nerv. By combining ingredients that both counter and complement the effects of caffeine, Dr. Michael Jiang created a proprietary blend called Pherelax to help keep your mind clear and focused without making you drowsy.

When Dr. Michael Jiang, Nerv’s chief scientific officer was in school in Atlanta, he realized that there hundreds of products on the shelf at the grocery store that were stimulants and almost nothing existed outside of alcohol to balance out all that stimulation. He said “what if I could formulate something that was also over the counter that could fit in a small bottle which would change that?” This way, anyone who has felt overwhelmed and hyper-stimulated to take matters into their own hands, order a six pack of Nerv online and have it show up at their doorstep. This lets people test the product out on their own and take back control.

Rising Stress, Rising Demand

The majority of people experiencing stress and anxiety have no solutions whatsoever. Large social and financial barriers including stigmatization, health insurance, and culture have made solutions for stress difficult to access. For us, we wanted to change all that. We understand that the last thing someone feeling social anxiety wants to do is to come face to face with another person in an unfamiliar environment to talk about their problems. That is why Nerv started online and comes in small packages without any pills or powders. A bottle of Nerv looks like a small shot of Five Hour Energy but it tastes much better and can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. We used feedback from every conversation during our research and development phase to craft a solution that works for everyone. We know the sorts of challenges people faced when looking for a solution and why most people haven’t discovered any relief and sought to fashion a solution that could fix those things.

We consider ourselves a scientific company first. We’ve created accessible products that are not gated behind prescriptions that people can pick up anytime they wish. We have also created the Nerv Center where we engage with our audience to provide expert advice and foster community between people all over the world. We’ve created a platform that allows anyone to engage with experts in a setting that familiar and welcoming rather than alien and intimidating.

By providing Nerv directly to customers, we don’t have the same cost structure. We thought about how to innovate on a platform with a mature infrastructure and cut out as many middle men as possible so we can focus on service and engaging with our community. Substantially lowering the cost barriers to taking control of stress to just $4.99 puts power back into the hands of people frustrated with a lack of accessible and affordable solutions.

More than just a shot

There are many more ways to create accessible solutions for the management of stress. The day we launched, we started working on delivering our proprietary Pherelax blend in other forms including drinks, teas, and candies. We questioned how we could incorporate new ingredients into these products and designed focus groups to study how people use different types of products. Optimizing the formulation to work in various forms and temperatures has taken months of work and we are rolling out additional products that add more solutions people can incorporate into their daily lives.

Stress is all around us in ways that are not immediately clear. When we feel nervous due to giving a speech, going on a date, or flying in a plane that can be stress. When we can’t sleep or feel shy, that can be stress. These are the reasons why we decided to tackle this problem with Nerv. We optimized the bottle so that it could be taken through security at the airport and the formulation works at any temperature so it can be handy in a pocket or bag. We’ve been taught to believe that managing stress is difficult and time consuming. It turns out, that balancing brain chemistry can help and it only takes one neuroscientist to figure out how to do that and put it in a format that is accessible by all. Our customers tell us Nerv is what they have been waiting for and we now know just how much they do. The category for Nerv is enormous and we are just getting started.

About the author: While still small, neuroscience startups like Nerv are shaking up the relaxation market. Scientist entrepreneur, co-founder, and inventor of Nerv, Dr. Michael Jiang, has created a small healthy supplement for the management of occasional stress and anxiety. His mission is to destigmatize the conversation around mental health by offering accessible, healthy, and intuitive solutions. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of others.

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Created on Sep 7th 2018 03:16. Viewed 664 times.


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