Irish mystic biohacker tackles the biggest challenges in mental health
Zenstra Bio-Health today announced plans to develop Artificial Intelligence aimed to assist in therapy. When asked what this entails, Zenstra CEO Saran Connolly kept his cards close to his chest– simply stating that the AI will allow counselors to offer their services to clients at a lower cost. Price is a barrier to therapy for many in need, according to Connolly. He also believes that the technological solutions on the market today lack a much-needed human element.
Connolly is quite an eccentric CEO, even by Silicon Valley standards. Hailing from Cork city in Ireland, the self-made entrepreneur has expertise in numerous fields, ranging from finance to neuroscience. He humbly dismisses the term “polymath genius,” instead calling himself “jack of all trades, master of none.” He does actually have a master’s degree in finance though. Something he is less modest about displaying is his body. His chiseled physique resembles a Greek God rather than someone who proudly boasts of working 125-hour weeks. Connolly says he sleeps for just 4 hours per night, preferring to “meditate instead.”
Growing up, Connolly recalls he was the skinniest, palest, and poorest kid in school. His red hair, glasses, and slight build often made him an easy target for jokes. “The only sporting success I ever had was winning the chess championship,” he laughed.
Connolly suffered with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem for much of his life, but now claims to embrace what makes him unique. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” he said with a grin, reciting one of Zenstra’s taglines. “Every cloud has a silver lining. Anything can be a blessing in disguise,” he added.
At age 12, Connolly went to private school on a full scholarship. Then at 14, he attended adult night classes on stock trading. Unfortunately, as a teenager, things took a turn for the worse when he began dabbling in alcohol. Aside from a history of addiction, Connolly was also diagnosed with bipolar depression. He has been admitted to multiple psychiatric units and rehab centers. However, he found the strength to turn his life around after the birth of his daughter, Saoirse. Connolly will proudly tell you Saoirse means “freedom” in his native Irish tongue.
He went on to study commerce, followed by a master’s in finance. He worked as a financial writer for JP Morgan and BlackRock while simultaneously taking an online computer science course from Harvard. He then went on to study machine learning, which he utilized for trading the stock market. Connolly subsequently worked for Apple as a data analyst.
While at Apple, one of his closest friends died under tragic circumstances. His friend, Richard, had been battling anxiety and depression for quite some time. “Richard was a successful bodybuilder, having won ‘Mr. Cork’ at just 18 years of age,” Connolly reminisced. “On the surface, Richard was such a funny, carefree guy,” he lamented.
A few months later, Connolly left Apple to start his own company, Zenstra. He had been researching supplements to help him cope with stress. This was how he came up with the blockbuster Lemon-Aid formula, which Zenstra is known for. Lemon-Aid promotes calmness and supports sleep.
This week, Zenstra also released a new product called Lemello. Lemello is the latest version of their Lemon-Aid range. Lemello contains an additional ingredient called mulungu. Mulungu is an obscure tree from the Amazon jungle. Its bark is used by the shamans of indigenous Amazonian tribes for its relaxing effects.
Connolly said he can’t credit Zenstra’s scientists for discovering the new ingredient. He claims to have stumbled upon it himself while attending a Druidic retreat at a remote manor in the Irish countryside. Connolly says he was given mulungu by a shaman from Peru who was also at the retreat. Not much is known about mulungu, outside of the jungle. Perhaps Mr. Connolly and Zenstra’s thriving community of spiritual biohackers are onto something though.