Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Bulletproof Biohacking Conference in Pasadena, Calif. What is "biohacking" you might say? Biohacking is the place where investigation, technology, and wellness converge. From where did this "biohacking" conference originate? On the face of it, this biohacking event is the outgrowth of an organization in Bellevue, Wash., based on the health and wellness discoveries of Dave Asprey, a former tech executive who coined the term "biohacking." Now 43, Asprey's aspirations began some 20 years ago as a rising tech executive with Citrix Systems, Blue Coat Systems, and Exodus Communications, and Trend Micro.
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By all definitions, Asprey was a Silicon Valley success. But, like many other tech players, he noted that his energy and health declined as his career accelerated. He had gained a massive amount of weight, ultimately reaching 300 pounds. Still, he forged forward. "I was one of the first people to sell anything on the internet," Asprey said, noting his success in selling t-shirts emblazoned with "Caffeine is my drug of choice" appeared alongside his photo, at 300 pounds, in a national tech magazine.
As Asprey's weight hit the crisis zone, he attacked his issue like an individual who is truly immersed in the beauty of tech. Asprey coined the term biohacking as he analyzed—with electrodes hooked up to his head—his body's responses to every known and unknown strategy for improving his fitness and wellness. Ultimately, he arrived at favorable answers (which you can read about in his New York Times bestseller "The Bulletproof Diet" or on his podcast interviews and blog articles at Bulletproof.com).
But here begins what is perhaps the even bigger discovery: that the concept of biohacking has taken on a life of its own. The 2016 conference (Asprey's fourth) welcomed more than 3,000 visitors. It included a trade show expo with 95 exhibitors and most of them involved tech. Wearable tech. Fitness monitors. A tech device called Muse that uses electroencephalography (EEG) tech to aid and support meditation. Sound and visualization therapies. New varieties of workout equipment to accomplish far-reaching goals (like the instant creation of an oxygen-deprived environment to mimic the effects of training at high altitude). One of the greatest aspects of launching products in an industry or category that hasn't existed before is the media opportunity it creates.
For example, consider Matt Riemann, an Australia-based founder who spoke at the conference and exhibited at the expo in support of ph360.me, his customized fitness application. The app is a "personalized health app" that addresses the fact that all fairly well-known "facts" about nutrition and fitness are unique to the situation and individual involved. "Tomatoes may be great for some individuals but might promote cancer in others," Riemann said. "Workout programs that are favorable in a warm, wet climate will have an entirely different outcome in a region that is cold and dry."
Riemann is using tech to cover the gap as well as achieve his even more ambitious goal of enacting widespread healthcare industry change. Which leads to...media, lots of media. If, like Riemann, you are working in or contemplating an entry into a product category in which worlds converge, then the following are four public relations (PR) tips you can use to be successful:
1. Crowdfund for education and PR as well as for raising development funds. Although Riemann has invested $5M from himself and his early investors, he's also raised some $250,000 via Kickstarter and Indiegogo to increase awareness and to provide him with additional marketing funds. But, particularly if you're a hardware vendor, use crowdfunding with care as PCMag's own Rob Marvin has warned.
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2. Give great speeches. Even if you're not inclined to enjoy public speaking, learning to make a compelling presentation is a great way to captivate customers when you teach them about the solutions to a problem they don't yet realize are available or to solve a problem they may not yet be aware that they have. Riemann speaks at every opportunity and notes that the TED and TEDx forums support the process of education particularly well. I would note that the transcripts of great video segments and speeches can serve as strong material for guest posts and articles as well.
3. Issue strong press releases. Founders can sometimes forget that effective press releases are a source of instant and strong search engine optimization (SEO). But remember to make your topics "evergreen" (which means they will still be meaningful in the coming seasons) and to use wire posting services and social media outreach to leverage them well.
4. Get great partners. If your tech addresses a problem that hasn't existed before (or hasn't been solvable before), then who can help you and who can you help? Think inside and outside of your tech sector. For example, a great, personalized health app can be a hot property on the Apple Store or as a way to highlight the greatest capability of your mobile devices. But what about insurance companies? Benefits providers? Wellness programs? The organizations outside of your home sector may be able to provide you with additional promotional fuel.
For Riemann, the prospects of biohacking are bright: Riemann's currently preparing for the launch of a second app, a virtual personal health assistant called Shae. This app will take the concepts of ph360.me to another dimension in 2017. This will open yet another set of media opportunities as it will be possible for a smartphone to dial up and order a customized healthy lunch to meet a subscriber's requirements, or remind users to bring along their workout gear as they walk out the door.
Media has never been so opportunity-friendly as technology paired with other industries has many additional surprises in store.