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Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Last updated: 2:23pm

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UA Alum make supplement to aid students' studying



Energy drinks aren’t the only way to stay up and study.

Tyler Johansen, the president of Brainiac Supplements and a UA alumnus, said he first got the idea for creating a healthy supplement to improve cognitive function when he struggled to focus during his four years here.

“When I was here at the UA, I started buying supplements one by one, just the individual ingredient, and tried to figure out what would help me concentrate in class,” Johansen said.

Johansen partnered with Mahdi Pessarakli, the medical and marketing director of Brainiac Supplements, to refine a formula packed with vitamins and herbs to help improve memory, concentration and focus. The two began marketing their product, which they named Study Buddy, to college campuses across Arizona and California.

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By Tyler Baker/ The Daily Wildcat / Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA Graduates Tyler Johanson(Right) and Dr. Mahdi Pessarakli(Left) talk about their nutritional suplement Study Budy. Study Budy is designed to help student focus and retain more information when studying.

“Every major university between Tucson and Los Angeles carries the product,” Johansen said. “Every Circle K in Arizona and Nevada carries the product, and we sell a bunch online nationwide.”

Since the product’s launch four years ago, the number of consumers using it has rapidly increased. Pessarakli said he would conservatively estimate that about 1,000 students on each campus that sells Study Buddy actively use it.

Johansen and Pessarakli said they are hoping to increase Study Buddy’s reach by not only expanding to other colleges, but also by creating products similar to Study Buddy that target other age groups.

“We’ve got a senior formula, a baby boomer geriatric formula coming out,” Johansen said. “We’ve got a kids version coming out. We’ve talked about an infant type of deal and a few other formulas, all-around cognitive function.”

The product targeting children would be intended to optimize pediatric development, so children could learn appropriately and enhance overall classroom performance. A version of Study Buddy for mature adults would try to help optimize brain function.

“The broader vision of the company is to become a development group for really promoting brain health and mental health in general,” Pessarakli said.

Johansen said that he would like students to take the supplement daily as a healthier alternative to other substances they might use to help them study.

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s out there that’s really bad for you. … Look at diet drinks with things like Splenda, which is a known carcinogen, which causes cancer,” Johansen said. “We really want to be an alternative to those options and give a healthy way to improve memory, concentration and focus.”

The company wants to continue marketing in a grassroots manner, Pessarakli said, and is planning to partner with sororities and fraternities to boost advertising for its product.

Greek Life is great for the company’s marketing strategy, Johansen said, because Greek Life accounts for approximately 10 percent of UA’s population and is an organization that requires members to maintain a minimum GPA to stay active on campus.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in Greek Life that trickles throughout the rest of the campus, so even if you’re not affiliated with Greek Life, you’re still going to know what’s going on,” Johansen said.

Pessarakli said there are no negative side effects of Study Buddy, making it a healthy but still effective way to study.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about improving health and well-being,” Johansen said.


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