Dave Asprey, the world famous BioHacker and founder of Bulletproof coffee has created the world’s first Human Upgrade™ center franchise. Is it just snake oil?
Dave Asprey, if you don’t know him is a 4X New York Times bestselling author, runs an award winning podcast, sells his own line of Bulletproof coffee, and is known as the father of biohacking, which is apparently doing things to your body to try and live longer, and better. Asprey allegedly lost 100 pounds and raised his IQ by 20 points through biohacking.
Dave Asprey got into some trouble in 2020 and was sent a warning letter from the FTC after making unsubstantiated health claims including some that were related to “hacking Coronavirus”.
Dave’s latest venture is a franchise, that is apparently the world’s first Human Upgrade™ Center which you can own for an investment between $633,400 – $1,040,350. Some of the offerings are AI Adaptive bikes that allegedly deliver the benefits of a 40-minute jog in 40 SECONDS of effort, motorized “cheat machines” and whole body vibration plates. Members can track their cell health, get a lymphatic detox massage, oxygen therapy, PEMF, and red light therapy. Whether you see this technology as groundbreaking or placebo effect is up to you, but in their defense their online reviews are pretty much all 5 stars, people experiencing good results.
Upgrade Labs has apparently sold their first franchises and the plan is to expand to over 100 franchises by the end of 2022. We don’t have a lot of data on the brand as it is so new, but I have some initial observations, and I will try and stay as neutral as possible.
So first, the positive, we are seeing franchises in this general space, in the right environments do well, Drip bars, cryotherapy, floating, we have seen franchise owners and brands making money even despite the madness over the past couple of years. But, monetary policy has been loose, discretionary income purchases were up. Will we see this continue as the economy contracts?
Specific to Upgrade labs, Asprey has an enormous following and fan base, and is at the forefront of an emerging industry. That success could potentially pass over to franchise owners getting in at the ground level.
Now some concerns and hopefully constructive criticism. When we take clients through the franchise research and acquisition process we have a complete diligence list that puts a brand under a magnifying glass, hence our logo.
I went to Upgrade Labs website as of today August 9. This is literally the front page copy “Become a franchise owner of the fitness and wellness center of the future” Not terrible, but sloppy writing, doesnt make me confident. And it gets worse. “Are you ready to join that company that created biohacking?” this is on the front page as well, and this next one is a huge nails across the blackboard thing for me because so many companies do this, claiming they have a “reoccurring” revenue model. Reoccurring means it happens sometimes, infrequently, unpredictable. It may happen again, it may not. Recurring revenue is regulars and predictable ongoing revenue, and is usually the word people are looking for, not reoccurring. Now Reoccurring revenue might be accurate but Ill bet that isnt what they meant.
Now some may say its just some errors on their website, not a big deal. But as a general rule we often see a consistency of attention to detail throughout an organization. Sloppy website often means sloppy systems and processes, sloppy operations manual, and sloppy overall company management. This may not be the case with Upgrade Labs, and we openly invite them for an interview here on the channel to tell us their story.
I did some digging and found that Upgrade Labs actually filed for bankruptcy in June of 2020. Is this a red flag? Yes. The end of the world, not necessarily. Many companies use bankruptcy as a learning experience and restructure stronger. It is possible the pandemic threw a wrench into business at that time, and it appears the location is operating as of 2022. Again, their reviews are mostly excellent with many clients suggesting their therapy has been very helpful.
How much can you make with an Upgrade Labs? We don’t know because they did not include their Item 19 financials in their disclosure. Again, not the end of the world, but most franchises that have a strong story, even just from a single flagship location, will list some revenue data. You will pay a 6% royalty, 2% National brand fund contribution, an $850 tech fee paid “a monthly” their lawyer doesnt like paying editors either, $500 a month for equipment subscription, and 5% for local advertising. So you’ll pay 13% of your gross revenue, plus $1350 a month. If you are making money that is not necessarily outrageous, but they are at the higher end within the space.
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