‘Five years ago, nobody was talking about longevity – now the whole world is’

Harish Consul on why investing in longevity is a necessity for those seeking to catch the next transformative wave.

Canadian entrepreneur and investor Harish Consul has become the latest member of Longevity.Technology’s new Advisory Board, bringing with him a wealth of expertise in building and investing in high-growth companies. The founder of Ocgrow Ventures, one of Canada’s leading private VC funds, Consul was an early investor in tech giants such as Amazon and Shopify and has more recently made several investments in the longevity field, including taking a significant holding in microbiome health company Viome.

Longevity.Technology: For the longevity field to truly reach its potential, it needs to attract investment and talent from far and wide, and the interest of shrewd investors like Consul demonstrates that the sector is ready for take-off. To get his thoughts on the longevity investment opportunity, we caught up with the man himself, shortly before he heads to London for a key conference on longevity and human enhancement.

As an investor constantly looking for new opportunities, Consul says that he is always looking for “inflection points” in emerging markets.

“As a VC fund, part of our role is to look at the next up and coming trends and always be ahead of the curve – to identify where the growth areas are for the next transformative wave,” he says. “In the 80s there was the PC revolution, then it was the Internet revolution in the 90s, in the early 2000s it was cloud computing and so on.”

Longevity is at an inflection point

Around 10 years ago, Consul, a personal health fanatic, started to hear more in VC circles about something called longevity.

“People like David Sinclair and Peter Diamandis were all talking about this world of abundance we’re entering into, and longevity kept coming up over and over again,” he says. “Despite all the negative news out there, the world is getting progressively better – amazing innovations are happening, lifespans are getting longer. They used to say 60 is the new 40, now it’s 100 is the new 60!”

It soon became obvious to Consul and his team at Ocgrow that they had to be looking at longevity as a serious investment opportunity.

“I see longevity as being really at the cusp of a major inflection point,” he says. “You can see it happening – five years ago, nobody was talking about it, now the whole world is!”

Consul’s investment philosophy is focused on ventures that can demonstrate short-term value, both to investors and humanity at large, and Viome fits the bill.

“[Viome founder] Naveen Jain is an incredible founder has been a good friend for many years, and the microbiome and the gut health is such an exciting area – it really affects our overall health throughout the human body, from your brain health to cellular health,” he says. “We love what they’re doing – it’s really based on food as medicine, but it’s all about personalization – my gut health is different from your gut health.”

Personalization is coming

The concept of personalization in health is a key factor for Consul, who believes that the years of the so-called “sick-care” approach to healthcare will soon be behind us.

“I believe that we’re entering the age of preventative care now – we can diagnose things much, much earlier and we can be more proactive than ever before,” he says. “I think we’re soon going to see a form of healthcare where everything is going to be personalized. It’s going to be precision based, it’s going to be based on predictive treatments – a combination of advanced diagnostics and therapeutics based on your specific health data.”

In addition to Viome, Consul says that Ocgrow has made several other longevity investments, including a stem cell therapy company, and is looking at more.

“We’re also seeing a lot of investor interest from outside – passive family offices and others that want to invest in longevity,” he says. “I think longevity is probably the most exciting space on the planet right now.”

Investing in scalability

For a longevity company to catch the eye at Ocgrow, Consul says it’s the same as with any other sector he invests in.

“The founding team is really important – what’s their track record, their background, what is the business plan?” he says. “And you can’t just remain an R&D lab for 10-15 years – there has to be a runway to profitability, and we have to see revenue scaling. For us, it has to be a technology for the masses – we like to invest in what’s scalable.”

As a former competitive tennis player and triathlete, Consul is also interested in longevity from a personal perspective.

“I’ve always been interested in health and fitness and how to optimize your health and get better times and higher performance levels,” he says.

So has he taken on board any of the longevity advice already widely available? Of course he has!

“It’s mainly about the basics – diet, sleep, exercise – so I try to eat an extremely healthy diet and work out every day,” he says. “I take fresh broccoli sprouts every morning for the sulforaphane, lemon juice with ginger every morning after my workout, as well as pomegranate juice and kiwi fruit every day. In terms of supplements, I take NMN, metformin, and a host of other vitamins and supplements every morning. And, you know, I’ve never been more energized!”