How to use hormones to grow a startup

It’s not just a “brainy stuff”. You can use basic knowledge about hormones to improve your positioning, promotional copy and targeting. Here’s how.

Ana Bibikova


Even you’re not a behavioural scientist you definitely have heard these terms: oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin. They are used widely in pop-science and narrative around human behaviour. You might know what each of them actually do but you probably have a general impression that they are hormones and that they have some impact on not only your feelings but your actions.

Here’s a great example of how we usually think of them

But here’s the trick: you also don’t have to be a behavioural scientist to learn very basic things about these tree chemicals that would actually help you to position your product better and make your messaging more relevant to your audience.

Hormones 101: what do you have to know about them as a startup founder

Three hormones in particular are very relevant to your line of work. All three are called “happiness chemicals” as, indeed, they cause the emotional states that can be described as “happiness”. However, they deal with 3 different types of “happiness”.

Dopamine — induces feelings that are involved in reward and motivation system. You are full of anticipation, can’t wait to get the result, obsessed with growing a number of followers on Twitter, joined the Ship30in30 challenge? All clear indication of increased dopamine release.

Serotonin — feeling emotional looking at little pups playing, pictures of babies are the definite scroll stopper for you, feel so inspired by person or a project that you can literally spend 18–20 hours dealing with it? Clear signals of being high on serotonin.

Oxytocin — the “bonding hormone”. Induces the feeling of being understood and loved, makes people motivates by working for “shared values”. The signs of oxytocin increase are: you want to feel yourself a part of a community, start feeling better when you feel support of like-minded people.

It’s not that when one hormone is released others stay dormant. They can be…