ASU alumni create product to mimic effects of Adderall without risk factor

mentalmojo Last week, three ASU alumni launched a company that produces brain-boosting powder that is intended to increase alertness similar to the effects of Adderall. (Photo by Karen Loschiavo)

Corrections added.

Last week, three ASU alumni launched a company that produces brain-boosting powder that when added to water is intended to increase alertness the way a caffeinated drink does, but also to increase focus to harness the energy.

Stephen Klein, Alex Lacroix and Ganes McCulloch, the co-founders of Mental Mojo, have been working on their product for more than two years, making time for it in between internships and graduate studies.

The three of them said the idea of Mental Mojo came after witnessing the rampant abuse of Adderall, a prescription drug intended to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, among their peers.

"The clock starts ticking on day one in law school," said Lacroix, who graduated with McCoullch from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. "Kids were in the library non-stop. They must not have slept more than three to four hours on any given night. I thought to myself, 'There's no way I can compete.'"

Lacroix said he started to notice other law students were using Adderall to stay up for long periods of time to study. Some of them had prescriptions, but he said many of them were buying it illegally.

"The irony was too good to pass up," he said. "All of a sudden, they're considering committing a felony to get this controlled substance so they become lawyers to enforce the law."

He said he sympathized with the students who were unsure how to handle the pressure of the competition in law school, but he was not willing to take that risk. Klein, who is Mental Mojo's head of marketing, said he felt the same way.

"We didn't see it as a viable solution," he said. "It's a felony."

McCulloch, Klein and Lacroix discussed the issue. They said they all felt the same way about Adderall abuse, so they came up with Mental Mojo, a combination of nootropics and amino acid complexes mixed together in a single-serve package to be poured in water.

The powder is comparable to a Rockstar energy drink in caffeine content, but is not supposed to induce the jitteriness that comes along with high-doses of caffeine. The taste is comparable to pink lemonade, Lacroix said.

He added that he started looking into concentration and energy remedies that could be alternatives to Adderall to help keep students focused as they combat the pressures of law school.

"I was looking for a sustainable, healthy alternative," he said. "Safety is the absolute, No. 1 concern. We want to offer something that's safe and keep (users) away from something that's dangerous."

To make sure the ingredients he had found were going to be effective and safe, he reached out to a neuroscientist from Barrow Neuorological Institute in Phoenix. He was willing to help, Lacroix said, because they were so concerned about safety and many companies don't consider that factor when creating a cognitive-enhancing product.

The product is now officially ready to sell after many test batches. Klein would like to see the product in stores by December. He said he is so confident in Mental Mojo's ability to succeed that he quit his job in Seattle and moved to Phoenix to work on the company full time.

The founders are now working on securing high-profile endorsements for their product.

Lacroix grew up with Al Jardine, founding member of the Beach Boys and Jardine is willing to endorse the product. Lacroix said this will help reach older people, for whom Mental Mojo will also be effective as some of the ingredients in the formula have been used to treat dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Communications juniorTommy Evans will be promoting and selling the product on campus. He said he has also seen peers abuse Adderall and has a prescription for Adderall himself but is unhappy with it.

"If I can get a few people to stay away from prescription drugs, that would be my plan," Evans said.

Once he gets his hands on the product and is ready to start selling, Evans said he will go into fraternity and sorority chapters to promote Mental Mojo.

"My main selling point is, 'Stay away from prescription drugs and take this product that gives you energy, keeps you focused and does the same thing (as Adderall) without the bad effects,'" Evans said.

A 10-pack of Mental Mojo can be purchased on its website for $29.99. Clinical research backing up the claims the company makes about each ingredient is available on the website.

Reach the reporter at kloschia@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @karenlosch

Correction: Because of reporting error, Ganes McCulloch's name was spelled wrong in a previous version of this story. Additionally, because of an editing error, the caption incorrectly said Mental Mojo has similar effects to caffeine, instead of Adderall.


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