The marketing problem of life extension technologies

If “Science has a really serious marketing problem” as Larry Page observed, then life extension technologies face even bigger marketing problems. I am definitely not a marketing expert but realized the problem early on when thinking about the lag-phase period of a robust life extension technology.  So I made a short email interview with Dave Gobel, the marketing and business mind/strategist behind the Methuselah Foundation (official title: Chief Executive Officer) following our meeting and chat at the SENS3 conference in Cambridge, UK, 2007.

1. What is the biggest marketing problem of any future (or present) healthy life extension technology?

The biggest marketing problem today is the time it takes for a beneficial effect to present itself. For instance, a product such as resveratrol may take months to present beneficial results, or it may never show up clinically. People who are scientifically sophisticated can appreciate the value of reduced circulating fats or glucose, but to the typical individual, there are much sexier things to spend money on that give immediate gratification and clear utility. The proof of this is illustrated by a counter example – how ridiculously easy it would be to sell a product that biologically reversed grey hair. The effect might be seen gradually but incontrovertably by all and in the mirror directly.

It seems to me that the best way to proceed from a business standpoint therefore is from the outside in. Create legitimate products that improve a person’s visual image and therefore social standing and they will flock for the result. Try to engineer those products to have globally beneficial effects, and marketing becomes easy.

So, for the present, the problem is delayed, and difficult to pinpoint results in exchange for expensive pills/treatments and never ending taking of pills. What about the future? The problem of marketing will evaporate as tissue engineering provides an immediate benefit by eliminating hip, knee and similar pains while restoring or even improving base functionality. When biologically matched teeth can be implanted and grown anew in gums, marketing will be easy.

2. How to market life extension for different generations (teenagers, college students, young adults, mature adults, grandpas and grandmas) and what are the main differences here? Continue reading

Life extension people & session at SciFoo 2008, Googleplex!

Last year I was probably the only SciFoo Camper with an explicit life extension commitment. I suggested & held a session which was related a bit to partial immortalization but was rather about the systems biology perspective in general, illustrated with some examples. So throughout the terrific SciFoo Camp 2007 life extension as a conversation topic remained rather implicit (ok, close to zero) and there was not much room to discuss it in the lack of other fellow life extensionists.

In my opinion the whole point of unconferences is to form the good aggregate of people with a common interest & similar/complementer message to join forces in order to draw enough (intellectual) attention for their topic. In this context, an unconference is about topics at the first place, not just about people. Idea networking is as important as social networking.

And if something fits 100% with the idea of SciFoo it is life extension/aging just as handling terrantic scientific datasets, open science or climate change as all these topics are utterly complicated and quite urgent screaming for the attention of the smartest people.

So I emailed Timo Hannay, SciFoo organizer:

“One thing I’ve noticed is that it would be very good to organize a session on scientific life extension technologies and consequences, because the SciFoo people are ideal to see and discuss all angles of this really important topic.”

And…..here is a session suggestion for SciFoo Camp 2008: Continue reading

Hourglass, a blog carnival devoted to the biology of aging

Finally Chris over at Ouroboros came up with the idea and the quick implementation of Hourglass, a blog carnival devoted to the biology of aging/biogerontology.  For some reason I am not an explicit supporter of blog carnivals – many of my posts were chosen by carnival editors but I never hosted one -, but Hourglass will be the big exception in which I participate, submit posts and host it later. The reason: first it presents aging/biogerontology related posts, which fits my profile and second it was instigated by Chris Patil, whose work is a guarantee for keeping all this in the good direction. So if you want to read on the evolution of longevity and aging, calorie restricition, stem cells/tissue engineering/regenerative medicine, or on the association of long life and intelligence at once, Hourglass is for you.

Understanding Aging Conference on FriendFeed!

The “Understanding Aging: Biomedical and Bioengineering Approaches” conference will be held from June 27-29, 2008 at UCLA organized by Aubrey de Grey, Irina Conboy and Amy Wagers. I like to call it UndertsEnding Aging in myself and I am excited to go to LA and meet new people also people from SENS3.

Yesterday I created a FriendFeed room for the conference as it seems to be a perfect place of live microblogging the conference, sharing any kind of links, videos, comments, feeds and feedbacks. Working on aging and the postponement of it (you can bravely say life extension) is always a pioneering work so it’s time to use pioneering web apps for that purpose, just like FriendFeed.

Aubrey de Grey, Kevin Perrott and Kevin Dewalt have already joined the room. What about you? See you on FriendFeed, see you on LA!

80 is the new 50 so Carl Icahn has a blog without content.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn (72) recently made the bloglines with his energetic position on the Microsoft – Yahoo deal. He has a blog too or at least it is coming soon since 01/31. /Having a blog for more than 3 months without any content is kinda equivalent with planning to sign up for Twitter but actually not doing it./

Daniel Gross, Newsweek: Eighty Is the New Fifty

“Carl Icahn has a blog (though it doesn’t contain any content)”….

“In time, it’s likely that prejudices toward older workers will be eroded less by the exploits of eternally youthful financiers, and more from a longstanding demographic trend. As they’ve moved through life, the baby boomers have altered societal attitudes on everything from smoking marijuana to Botox. As boomers coast into their golden years, it’s likely the acceptance of older workers at every rung of the corporate ladder will grow. In the 1960s, the boomers’ mantra was: don’t trust anyone over 30. In the 2010s, it’ll probably be: don’t trust anyone under 70.”

The Biogerontology Research Foundation receives charitable status, UK

Just landed in my mailbox, emphasis added by me:

Dear Attila,

I would like to provide you with a copy of the press release to be distributed via press release distribution sites on Wednesday. We will also put it on our site within a few hours after this email so you can confirm its authenticity. Please help us distribute this press release.

The Biogerontology Research Foundation, which has been started with the help of worlds’ most prominent scientists and businessmen received the charitable status from the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

The fact, which is not mentioned in the press release is that the chief scientific officer of the foundation is Dr. Michael Rose of UCI, who is famous for extending life of fruit flies threefold. Continue reading