If you’re a well respected engineer at Tesla, it’s likely you’ll be pretty happy with your job and won’t be looking to leave. That was the case for Sisun Lee, until his hangover cure drink became so successful he had to work on it full time.
As of early July, Lee’s startup Morning Recovery will be in business and selling a hangover cure drink that’s FDA compliant.
The idea was inspired by hangover cure drinks that are very popular in South Korea (although not quite as insanely popular as heavy drinking is there).
Drinking hard and getting up for work is commonplace in South Korea, so drinkers need all the help they can get.
When he spent time there, Lee found that the drinks really worked, but he found it difficult to become a distributor of them in the United States, he told Business Insider. So he had no choice but to make his own.
Morning Recovery’s website explains that the team are “a group of friends in Silicon Valley obsessed with solving hangovers.”
Apparently, “Morning Recovery is a side project born out of our frustration as balancing productivity and social life became challenging.”
So they, “made a trip to Korea, the leading country in hangover research, to develop the formula behind Morning Recovery.”
So how does this hangover cure drink work?
The Morning Recovery website goes into plenty of detail about the hard science behind the cure, but put simply the drink is: “an all-in-one liquid dietary supplement designed to help your body break down alcohol-induced toxins, and support healthy liver function.”
One of the most important ingredients in a hangover cure drink was pinpointed by Dr. Jing Liang, a UCLA researcher who publishes papers on herbal remedies for hangovers and who is assisting Lee.
That ingredient is a herbal compound named dihydromyricetin (DHM), which is present in the Oriental raisin tree and in rattan tea.
Drinks made using treasures from these trees have been used to cure hangovers in parts of Asia for millennia.
When we have consumed too much alcohol for our livers to process, a type of toxic acid builds up, which causes inflammation, headaches and vomiting.
DHM gives the body assistance in removing this toxic acid, Lee explained. He also added some extras that South Korean drinks don’t have, to target as many of the causes of hangovers as possible
“Purity matters, quantity matters, and you need a lot of other ingredients for hangovers. You lose Vitamin B and Vitamin C in the body. These are all things that are not in Korean hangover drinks,” Lee said.
The research involved a lot of drinking
Once Lee and his team had their recipe, they found a manufacturer in Korea and spent two weeks testing their product.
This involved getting horrendously drunk every night to see if the cure worked. It certainly seemed to, but Lee wanted to be really sure so he even had to skip the drink some days to remind himself what hangovers feel like, and that he wasn’t imagining that the drink was working.
“It wasn’t healthy,” he said. “I gained 15 pounds.”
Happy but still not convinced, he asked friends of friends to try the drink and 80 per cent said it worked.
“We were still very skeptical,” Lee said. “We wanted to eliminate bias. We needed to give it to people who didn’t know us at all. But we couldn’t get enough strangers to say, ‘Yeah I’ll get drunk and take this really weird sketchy drink from you.”
The decision to leave Tesla
After reaching out to the wider world through Facebook, who Lee also used to work for, Morning Recovery ended up on the Product Hunt website, which helps to launch new products.
“Overnight we became No. 2 on Product Hunt. We weren’t even a startup. We were just people doing this thing,” Lee said.
An amazing 10,000 people signed up to sample the drink in just one day, and things grew even more quickly from there.
“Leaving Tesla was a very tough decision. If I could have done both, I would have,” Lee said, but he feels curing hangovers is his calling.
If his drink becomes used by millions of working drinkers in the United States and around the world, he will still be indirectly helping Tesla and many other companies too, by making their staff more productive after a heavy night before.