Midterms. Final exams. Late night study sessions. These are all common realities of living a college lifestyle. “Pulling all-nighters” has become the new normal across campuses, as students drive to succeed and take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to them.
But, in a fast-paced, technologically enhanced society, the competition among educational institutions and more importantly, its students, continues. The pressure college students face on a daily basis from inside and outside the classroom, has led many to identify and recognize that they may need to address issues like anxiety, depression, and even cognitive enhancement.
On college campuses across the U.S., students are finding ways to deal with these stresses, by acquiring prescription medications like Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), and narcolepsy, without actually having a prescription, or going through a licensed, medical professional.
One student in particular, Andrew Kozlovski, a senior at the University of Southern California, and CEO of BrainzPower, has identified with this issue, and has set out on a path to ensure that the market is incentivized to provide safer alternatives for individuals who may not have prescriptions for Adderall, or similar prescription drugs.
Like his classmates around him, Kozlovski found himself stretched thin, pulling all-nighters and stressing over midterms and final exams. He came to the realization that he needed a way to enhance his focus and attentiveness, but going about it the right way. So, he came up with a solution to help guide college students in the right direction and encourage them not to abuse medication and substances they weren’t familiar with.
While there are a plethora of companies out there which provide supplements and wellness products for those who seek to enhance cognitive function, Kozlovski’s venture couldn’t be more timely, as both a senior ready to graduate, and a key member of the demographic for which this market relates.
“During my freshman year, I noticed a great number of students were taking Adderall during midterms and final exams period to enhance their focus and mitigate symptoms of ADHD. Recognizing that I had my own issues with focus and attentiveness, I wanted to see if I could find out more information about being prescribed it. She asked me whether I had ADHD—I had no idea what she was talking about.So, I did some research on the drug and discovered it was an amphetamine, and highly addictive to the body, if abused. It was at that point in time I understood this behavior on campus to be a serious issue, especially where kids all around me were exchanging it like money.”
–Andrew Kozlovski, on starting up BrainzPower
It’s not uncommon for college students or even graduate students, to throw around symptoms to a medical professional, and ultimately ending up with a prescription for a diagnosis or condition they may or may not have. According to a national survey on drug use, sponsored by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 38.5% percent of college-age individuals (ages 18-22 years old), reported using ADHD stimulants, such as Adderall, for non-medical reasons.
Unfortunately, the positive effects of Adderall are often negated when people misuse or abuse it. Studies have explored the trends of college students abusing Adderall to enhance their concentration, providing them with the ability to stay awake for longer periods of time, thus allowing them to pull those “all-nighters.”
“Today, it’s very easy to walk into a doctor’s office and “fake symptoms,” said Kozlovski. For instance, I know a good number of people at school, and I’ve been told that anyone can get this prescription, if you say certain
Rise, Grind, and Educate
Currently, the U.S. has been dealing with the deadly opioid epidemic, which has largely spared college campuses, but experts are still cautioning administrators to pay closer attention to.
“This is a time when young adults have more access to substances than ever before and have more economic leverage and legal protections,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum in Minnesota.
Kozlovski told Forbes that from a student’s perspective, students aren’t educated on these types of substances. “We just know about it from friends and classmates; that it allows us to more school work in a more focused manner,” said the USC senior.
But, at the end of the day, people don’t understand how bad it is to misuse substances that aren’t prescribed to you by a licensed medical professional.
“So, I did my research, compiled all the ingredients known to assist with cognitive focus, mental health, and stress relief,” said Kozlovski. I then took my list and traveled to labs across the U.S., asking for chemists who could create a product, that contained many of these ingredients, which would help those college students who may not be ADHD or meet the criteria for being prescribed Adderall, focus and stay attentive throughout their collegiate education.
The USC senior indicated that during his testing and marketing periods, a lot of things didn’t work, but at the same time, many things worked extremely well.
Kozlovski told Forbes that initially, his family was against the idea of him starting up his own business because they didn’t understand how someone could sell a product like that on Instagram, let alone, manage a business while undergoing college.
In terms of capitalizing on the market, Kozlovski took to the one spot he knew almost all college kids were drawn to—social media.
Sending The Message To College Brains Across The Country
While initially averaging $10,000 per month in sales of his product, BrainzPower brings in almost $30,000 per month in sales, strictly through the content pushed through social media.
Kozlovski emphasized that when it comes to running a business aimed at college students or millennials, the content is by far the most important factor. “It’s not the labels, hashtags, or effects you can add to your content,” added the entrepreneur, “it’s someone whose passionate about an idea, and elaborating on that idea for over 60 seconds, which is much more engaging and valuable than simply posting a picture or a simple message.”
“It’s about connecting, the sales come after,” said Kozlovski. When it comes to e-commerce, platforms like Amazon and other e-shops, have to market in new, innovative ways. With the younger demographic, it’s social media. The USC senior lended his support to platforms like Instagram, who in its time of updates and features, is doing a great job and allowing for businesses and brands to become more seamless.
Social media can be a great tool for spreading awareness about issues like Adderall abuse and the opioid epidemic plaguing our nation. It’s just a matter of education, and maybe some entrepreneurship thrown in the mix.
Addressing Cyberbullying On Campus
Rossow: You recently accepted the #CYBERBYTE challenge, a YouTube initiative aimed at spreading awareness about standing up against cyberbullying. As a college student and entrepreneur have you been victimized by online trolling?
Kozlovski: Everyone is going to get cyber-bullied. I’ve gotten hundreds of messages attacking my appearance or character. But you have to remember, the people who are talking like this, they aren’t in a good place, and hate to see someone succeed and happy. I want others to know to ignore them. Just remember, build your confidence, because everyone is beautiful. Be happy and love yourself.
Rossow: You have a following of over 110,000 people. What’s your secret?
Kozlovski: I went through every picture, from the beginning, to see what they did and how their account changed over time. This included looking at the type of content they posted and what hashtags they used. With social media, there is always a pattern—there’s no hiding how someone can grow and mature, even socially. Take my account for example, you can see how my content has changed over time, understanding which pictures and/or videos resonated the most. I sat on Instagram for hours a day, for over two months, breaking it down into all of its key points.