Sebastian Gonzalez ’22 curates his wellness brand Ataraxia

headshot of a student in a blue jacket

Stress is perhaps the most well-understood word in the modern individual’s dictionary. The burden of managing a multitude of responsibilities in an increasingly fast-paced modern world has left individuals burnt out, overwhelmed, and struggling with anxiety in an attempt to meet all expectations.

Enter the world of nootropics — natural supplements that can improve cognitive function and reduce burnout. Sebastian Gonzalez ’22, studying real estate in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and founder of Ataraxia, a brand selling nootropic supplements to enhance cognitive performance.

Ataraxia, a Greek word meaning a state of serenity free from worry, was inspired by Gonzalez’ own personal experience with the importance of mental health and his lifelong mission to support mental wellness in himself and others. He studies psychology for that precise reason — to understand how the brain works and what strategies to implement for its health and happiness. For him, simple strategies such as taking cold showers in the morning or meditating before starting the day have significant effects on his focus and presence.

Another behavior he’s found revolutionary in improving productivity and calm? The answer lies in Ataraxia – taking nootropic supplements.

Gonzalez’ business of artisanal supplements started a few years ago when he traveled to Japan and visited the green tea market in Kyoto. There, in the city known for producing the world’s finest tea, he was introduced and fell in love with Japanese matcha. As obsession for green tea made its way to America in the form of ice creams, cakes, and lattés; Gonzalez decided to begin selling ceremonial grade matcha, touting its many health benefits and advantage as an alternative to coffee.

Through sleek, elegant packaging and intentional care, Gonzalez quickly found customers for his premium matcha. Hoping to expand more into the world of supplements for cognitive function, he began developing a nootropic blend in one pill from several different mushroom powders. His current supplement contains ashwagandha, which reduces stress and anxiety, chaga, which improves memory recognition, and lion’s mane, which increases focus and attention. 

“Stress and anxiety is the number one factor that decreases our energy. Nootropics increases your brain’s productivity.  If you take it in the long term, you’re going to feel less stressed and more energetic,” said Gonzalez of the profound impact nootropics can have.

With his passion for mental wellness and intentional cultivation of his wellness brand Ataraxia, it’s no surprise that Gonzalez is already seeing funding and interested customers run towards him. Gonzalez was one of four winners at the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University’s Startup in a Day competition, where individuals gathered from across the Syracuse community to give one-minute pitches of their business idea for the chance to win $1,000 as part of a collaboration with Startup Tree.

As the winner of the Consumer Products and Services categories, Gonzalez now gets to move on to a nationwide competition competing for the chance to win $10,000 in funding for Ataraxia. Gonzalez, who signed up for the competition after he saw the LaunchPad team pitching it in Bird Library, is so thankful that he saw that LaunchPad table that one day and propelled his path toward funding and recognition.

With the past year’s rise in mental health struggles, motivation, and productivity due to world forever changed by COVID-19, Gonzalez hopes that nootropic supplements can help people find more focus and energy in their day-to-day life. His resolve to create a brand that helps people cultivate wellness and mental health via remarkably powerful brain supplements contributes to the creation of a modern society that is well, not stressed.  

Story by Claire Howard ’23, Global Fellow.