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Haas EMBAs Want To Help The Hungover

Sharrifah Al-Salem and David Firth-Eagland founded Bright Day, a startup producing hangover pills

Sharrifah Al-Salem and David Firth-Eagland founded Bright Day, a startup producing pills that help prevent hangovers

It was a normal night when David Firth-Eagland did something abnormal. He’d just received a panicked cap-locked text from his wife, Christine. Minutes later, Firth-Eagland was stuffing an envelope with pills and handing it off to an Uber driver to deliver to his wife who was at a bar across town with friends.

The pills weren’t of the partying type. Quite the opposite: They were the beta version of BrightDay, Firth-Eagland’s Ph.D.-backed hangover killer.

If you haven’t heard of BrightDay, you might want to look into it before your next night of libations. A capsule of antioxidants, botanicals, amino acids and vitamins B and C, BrightDay is the product of four years of research by a team consisting of a chemistry Ph.D. and two MBAs. It’s not a magic pill, but Firth-Eagland and co-founder Sharrifah Al-Salem say if your hangover is in the “zero to eight” range, taking three of their pills before a night of drinking will help your body recover quickly.

“Essentially what we are doing is fortifying your liver with the exact elements it needs to break down toxins from alcohol. We’re helping your body with natural processes,” Firth-Eagland tells Poets&Quants on a phone call. “That being said, if you’re going to run a motorcycle at a wall, don’t be surprised if it gets broke.” Running a motorcycle into a wall is the equivalent to consuming 15 to 20 drinks, Firth-Eagland clarified.

RAVE REVIEWS FOR THE VITAMIN B-PACKED CAPSULE

But don’t take his word for it. Check out the reviews on BrightDay’s Amazon page, which was launched in January. Of its first 29 reviews, 28 were five stars. “I actually kind of hate to admit it, but this stuff seems to work,” reads the “most helpful” comment. “I am a trained Ph.D. scientist, so normally I call B.S. on this sort of thing.”

“This skeptic is a believer,” writes another. “I bought these (skeptical but hopeful) for an upcoming vacation in Mexico. I decided to try them out on tequila shots (which I normally avoid because of the extreme hangover it gives me). I had more than I usually would but when I woke up, no headache and very, very little stomach upset.”

At $36.95 per 90-capsule bottle, a serving size of three pills certainly packs a punch. One serving pumps you full of 6,000% of your daily requirement of thiamine (vitamin B1), 4,667% of vitamin B12 and 1,000% of vitamin B6. Still, Firth-Eagland maintains it’s a chemically backed enhancer of a natural process. And it very much seems he’d know.

ROUNDING OUT BUSINESS SKILLS WITH AN EMBA

“I’ve always been very sensitive to hangovers,” Firth-Eagland admits, noting he’s had a keen interest in chemistry since being an undergrad at Humber College in Toronto. “I had quite a few go-hard friends,” he says. As those friends kept going hard, Firth-Eagland zoomed through his mid-20s, and hangovers began to sting a little more with the time. “As I became older, it became something I was increasingly whiny about,” the 36-year-old says.

Meanwhile, Firth-Eagland wasn’t satisfied with his career and ability to read financial statements. Not surprisingly, with a computer science background, he spent the better part of his early career focused on tech support and operations at IBM and BlackBerry in Canada and Singapore.

“I hated not understanding as much around the financial statements or what earnings per share meant,” he says, adding he entered the UC-Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program with a growing chip on his shoulder. “You can Google these terms, but as I moved up in my career I grew intimidated by the aspects I didn’t know.”

‘HE USED TO TAKE PILLS ALL THE TIME AND I THOUGHT IT WAS WEIRD’

Aiming to increase his finance prowess, Firth-Eagland applied to and enrolled in Berkeley’s executive MBA program. It was in a classroom on the Northern California campus where Al-Salem noticed Firth-Eagland and some odd behavior — specifically that anytime classmates planned to go out for drinks after class, Firth-Eagland started popping pills.

“I used to sit next to Dave. He used to take pills all the time and I thought it was weird,” Al-Salem laughs. “So I asked him about it and he explained to me what it was for. I still thought it was ridiculous, I didn’t believe in it.”

But Firth-Eagland was armed with research. For about four years, he had been researching journal articles and white papers in search of a remedy to his hangover problem. What it led to was a “pre-gaming” routine akin to your grandparent’s morning prescription pill routine.