In 2014, Princeton University sophomore Brooks Powell took a course in Molecular Biology and Neurological Science. His professor, Samuel Wang, characterized him as “a very strong student who grasped important points quickly, and who has a nose for interesting issues in neuroscience as it relates to everyday life.” (Houston News, 8/14/14)
It is common knowledge that one of the factors of daily life in most colleges is alcohol consumption. Of course, this is not only an issue on college campuses, but is a considerable factor in lower productiveness, serious injuries and fatal accidents in all areas of the United States. An article on 10/17/15, titled “Hangovers: They’re Costing the U.S. Economy,” on, referenced a report from the Center for Disease Control which estimated that in 2010 excessive drinking cost the U.S. economy nearly $250 billion.
Powell started looking for as much information as he could find regarding hangovers, how the body responds to alcohol, and what ingredients had been shown to be effective for reducing the symptoms of a hangover. One of the most promising ingredients turned out to be dihydromyricetin (DHM), extracted from Chinese vine tea. It was commonly used in Asian countries to ease the effects of alcohol consumption, and had also been subject to peer-reviewed lab experiments that showed it could counter the effects of intoxication.
Initially experimenting in his dorm room, Powell eventually partnered with a New York pharmaceutical company that helped him formulate Thrive+ and determine industry standards and the amount of ingredients that could be packed into one capsule. He also sought legal counsel from Princeton alumnus, Andrew Chadeayne, a patent lawyer, who advised Powell to apply for a patent. Thrive+ is currently patented and the trademark is registered.
Powell was fortunate to be at Princeton University because there are numerous initiatives there to support entrepreneurship and startup businesses designed by their students. On March 26, 2016, Powell gave a TED talk at Princeton about the development of Thrive+. He was chosen two years in a row to participate in the University’s eLab Accelerator Program. The Accelerator Program is a launch pad for student startups, and is open by application only. Successful applicants spend the summer in the program, where they attend weekly lectures and workshops, are provided with high quality mentorship, and have the opportunity to present their plans to investors, innovators and entrepreneurs. They also receive free housing, office space, and a grant of $20k. In November 2017, Princeton University selected Powell as one of the first four recipients of the Tiger Entrepreneurship Award. In a September, 2017 article in Huffington Post, Steve Mariotti, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, characterized Powell as a “visionary young entrepreneur,” and noted that the Princeton graduate, now 24, had already built a multi-million dollar company designing products to reduce the negative effects of alcohol.
Thrive+ is available in two forms. The After-Alcohol Aid is a supplement incorporating vitamins, minerals, plant extracts and antioxidants that promote liver function and hydration and decrease the amount of chemical damage on the body done by alcohol. It is taken in pill form after the last drink, or at bedtime. The companion product is ORS, a lemon-lime flavored, oral rehydration powder that is mixed with water. Created from a hydration formula similar to that used by the World Health Organization, it can be used along with the capsules, as well as during the day following to provide additional hydration.
Powell is clear that he doesn’t condone abuse of alcohol, and his goal was not to simply make it less painful for those who are irresponsible about their consumption. But he believes that it is a societal benefit to help minimize the negative health effects and reduce some of the resultant costs of one of the most commonly used (and abused) drugs in the United States.