September 2004 Funding Conference
On September 18th, 2004, Maximum Life Foundation sponsored a formal brainstorm session in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. The 13 attendees included Dr. Aubrey de Grey, one of the world's foremost anti-aging scientists. Unlike our scientific sessions in 2000, 2001 and 2002, Aubrey was the only scientist present. In our first two sessions, we discussed and formulated a general scientific roadmap to reverse aging. Aubrey fine tuned his own version since then and presented it in many parts of the world via conferences and major media.
This session was attended by some top notch marketing and financing personalities including Joe Polish, Joe Sugarman, one of the world's direct marketing legends (via teleconference) and Bill Phillips, who build a fitness empire which originally included MetRx and later EAS and Muscle Media publication company. Bill wrote the world's biggest selling fitness book, Body for Life, and recently wrote Eating for Life. Participants also included Shawn Phillips, Richard Spring, Eben Pagen, Dean Jackson, Jo Cavanaugh, venture capitalist Michael Potter, Eunice Miller, Bruce Klein, Lisa Wagner and David Kekich.
We developed the framework of a financial roadmap to fund the scientific roadmap. We formulated creative strategies to raise up to $100M (or more) per year to coordinate and accelerate targeted anti-aging medicine research funding.
Here are some high points that summarize our conference:
- We are going to develop a master plan to endow funding in a fund or a series of funds to generate income for anti-aging medicine R&D. We will seek refundable deposits rather than investments or donations. Depositors will possibly get an annual dividend in addition to the major share of any income or capital gains derived from the investments we make during the term of the project (may be open-ended but scheduled for 10 years). Our goal is investing $100 million per year in anti-aging technologies for at least 10 years. This will take approximately $1.4 billion under professional management without invading the principal.
- We will focus on the Methuselah Foundation's agenda of reversing aging in a mouse within 10 years and hopefully applying some or all of the research to humans during that period and beyond. We will also support some artificial intelligence and nanotechnology research if feasible.
- One of our marketing efforts will center on offering depositors a "higher purpose" psychic reward in addition to financial rewards. We will develop an exclusive community of common interest among high achievers and other wealthy individuals where they would feel pride in what they are helping to accomplish.
- We would offer strategic by-products to members.
- We could extend an invitation rather than a solicitation. Depositors would be invited to extend their and their families' lives and well-being as well as contributing to the health and welfare of the rest of the world.
- This could be a referral/networking marketing effort.
- Depositors could be granted membership to an exclusive "club".
- Related benefits could be early access to quicker cures and preventatives of diseases such as Alzheimer's, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, etc.
- We plan on attracting one or more celebrity spokespersons.
- We plan to build a powerful Board.
Some other ways mentioned to raise funds were:
- Offer a prize or prizes, similar to the X Prize. The Methuselah Foundation is already offering researchers on-going Methuselah Mouse Prizes for the longest lived mouse.
- Start an aggressive public relations program.
- Start government and industry campaigns.
- Start a grass roots movement via a series of social events.
- Generate funds from related or non-related businesses similar to the Life Extension Foundation's model.
- Develop short DVD's to long infomercials or documentaries as well as other marketing materials.
- Have a credible author write a pertinent longevity book and/or use contributing authors.
- Affiliate ourselves with a major university for enhanced credibility, research facilities as well as possible financial support through alumni associations or endowments.
- Raise seed funding to support an organization to spend a couple of years doing professional fund raising for the $1.4 billion.
- We agreed in today's environment, it's easier to sell gradual changes or improvements rather than "curing" aging. It would probably be more effective to promote a healthier life span and maybe a 15-25 year extension rather than something much more ambitious. Trying to sell extreme life extension would be counter-productive and not universally believable until the public becomes aware of the existing and pending research that should extend lives dramatically.
- We discussed the possibilities of a central building or complex to house most of the research in a Mayo Clinic type atmosphere.
- We discussed the possibility of moving some of the more sensitive research offshore that might be impeded by government delays or restrictions in the US. We also discussed decentralizing the operation.
- We planned to build a web portal where all participants, as well as scientists and the general public could meet and share information.
During the month following our meeting:
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- We started the business plan to raise the seed money as well as a plan to state the financial case for the "big picture".
- We scheduled a meeting with a fund management firm that could get us closer to the 12% annual return on an endowed funding model than the 10% originally projected... while protecting principal.
- We scheduled a meeting with a well known personality in the fund raising arena for a major boost to Dr. de Grey's Methuselah Mouse Prize (sort of like the Ansari X Prize which just awarded $10M for the first successful private space launch).
- We developed a $600,000 annual budget for the operation to raise our $1.4 billion endowment fund.
- Finally, we started detailing our plan and identified some personalities we'd like to recruit as spokespersons.