Tabularasa – Investment & Entrepreneurship for the Psychedelic Ecosystem

Photo credit: LinkedIn/ Abdulateef Pedro-Salvador

Now that cannabis has reached such a heightened plain in business and medicine, more people are now questioning what other safe, holistic methods are out there to help manage mental health.

Psychedelic medicine has gained far more traction in the last few years, and businesses like Tabularasa Ventures, are here to help future entrepreneurs successfully navigate the industry!

Tabularasa, very fittingly, means ‘blank slate.’ Since the psychedelic industry is a pioneer industry in the western world, part of the company’s mission is to build up everything from a blank slate. 

In my interview with Tabularasa’s founding and executive leadership team: Marik Hazan, Henry Mariano, and Maria Velkova, I got a significant glimpse at the mission of Tabularasa, the trajectory of the psychedelic industry, and the roadblocks it still faces without proper legalization.

The audio interview with Tabularasa is linked here, the details of the interview- and other important information focused on the psychedelic industry can be found below. We recommended listening to the audio AND reading below.

What is Tabularasa?

Tabularasa’s incubator and accelerator programs work with entrepreneurs coming up in the psychedelic space who want to build businesses working with psychedelic compounds like MDMA, LSD, Psilocybin, and other indigenous medicines. They teach everything from how to make basic landing pages to financial modeling. It’s also one of the few companies in the psychedelic space to offer these incubator programs that help businesses in their beginning stages.

Currently, the estimated time for the federal legalization of psychedelics isn’t predicted to happen until 2035. However, there are already psychedelic entrepreneurs who are getting a head start on educating others. 

How do Tabularasa’s incubator and accelerator programs support entrepreneurs looking to enter the psychedelic industry?

Tabularasa’s incubator program aims to help global startup psychedelic companies and corporations to help them grow in their niche and find sustainability.

That’s right; the U.S. isn’t the only one realizing the place psychedelics have in the medical community!

The incubator is for early-stage companies that are pre-product market fit. It’s aimed at entrepreneurs still trying to find who their market is and who they’re selling to. 

The program takes participants through a 3-month curriculum so Tabularasa can work with them on building their business. Whether that’s by helping them build landing pages, create financial models, or giving them the foundations of what they need to continue moving forward. 

Marik is keen on getting business owners to take those first steps toward accomplishing a large milestone that can act as their minimum viable product.

He mentioned as an example,” If you’re a writer or a training therapist in the space, we want you to walk away from the program with your first 100 customers. Maybe it’s just your friends at first, or you’re talking to everyone you know, but you have numbers and metrics and understand what it’s going to take to get your business to the next phase.

The accelerator program, which is still being built out, will be for later-stage companies in North America that Tabularasa can invest their own money into. Business owners will have the opportunity to meet with their advisor network to get the best expertise on their staff to help grow their business at a faster rate.

Marik described the specific purpose of their accelerator program is to measure quantitative impact and understand what it means to magnify it across an entire ecosystem.

How is the path to legalization different for psychedelics vs. cannabis?

Photo Credit: Leafly

As you’d expect, both the psychedelics and cannabis industries are challenging and easy in different ways.

One substantial difference is how psychedelics have more research about their compounds and mental/bodily effects. Meanwhile, stories like this one reveal how cannabis research continues to be inhibited, even in 2020. 

The federally legal route is tricky and could take ten years to get full legalization. Although psychedelic assisted therapy is lawful in places like Oregon, it will take a few years to get legislation together to show who qualifies for the treatment and who can administer the care. Some have even begun creating training programs for therapists focusing on psychedelic assisted therapy.

Cannabis is all about allowing a person to choose their method of ingestion and dosage level. Psychedelics involves being with someone to help guide you through the process. This industry should not be looked at as sending patients home with a bag of psilocybin so they can figure out the experience all on their own. 

How did propaganda decimate the reputation for psychedelics?

One main focus for Tabularasa is about creating impact within the psychedelic industry by supporting underprivileged entrepreneurs. 

I’m sure people are tired of hearing the phrase ‘War on Drugs,’ but that’s because this movement’s repercussions haven’t faded into obscurity. The national campaign indoctrinated by the Nixon administration was stated to be based on the increase in drug use by citizens and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. 

Because instead of racism, inequality towards women, and a pointless war, weed and other drugs meant for medicinal practice were “public enemy number one.”

While much of the scientific data that already existed showed definite medical benefits from psychedelics, the primary gap is understanding how they work in different patient types.

A study on the inclusion of minorities in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy by the University of Connecticut found that out of 18 different psychedelic research trials completed between 1993 to 2017, nearly 82% of participants were white. The trials were open to all ethnicities, so why such a lack of representation? Mistrust, fear, and skepticism.

We know how pat and current history perceives non-white individuals who partake in cannabis or psychedelics. The negative connotations surrounding minorities and their communities are enough to make anyone distrustful of a system that specifically targeted them in the War on Drugs. 

The biggest issue we see from the lack of racial diversity is how people are treated for their mental health conditions. Maria puts it perfectly with her statement, “trauma varies generationally and culturally.”

“One center tried to do a black-only study but couldn’t get people to sign up because so many have been incarcerated in the past for doing these exact types of drugs.” 

What are some of the biggest roadblocks for psychedelic businesses?

According to Marik, one of the roadblocks for these newer businesses are those first few customers and getting people on board who are willing to trust their product. Each entrepreneur’s roadblocks are different, but most founders’ core issue is not creating something that appeals to a core demographic and gains significant traction thereafter. Part of what Tabularasa does is help these entrepreneurs craft a story and product that’s unique.

Regulation and legal status are also huge roadblocks, especially for research purposes. Maria points out how drug discovery facilities working with any substance require special licensing, which is incredibly difficult to get. Right now, only major academic institutions and larger psychedelic/drug discovery companies have these licenses. Partnering with these establishments is the best workaround until legalization protocols have changed.

Though there is a ton of global interest in psychedelic medicine, Maria also stated Europe is much slower with its response to the psychedelic industry. 

“Regulations are super tight, and companies and investors for the space cannot do business due to not having the appropriate licensing. However, one company in the U.K., Small Pharma, did a reverse acquisition with a Canadian company so they can operate in Canada.”

Tabularasa perches themselves between the activists and the capitalists to create an honest, inclusive psychedelic industry.

All three co-founders understand making the psychedelic space inclusive for minorities and indigenous communities is just as crucial as destigmatization. The company wants to create a space where such difficult discussions can help push the industry in the most equitable way possible.

While they understand their business might not grow as fast as everyone else, Tabularasa is also about having a sustainable organization with great people. Henry’s comment couldn’t be more spot-on; “It’s one of the most important industries humanity will ever build.”

“I’m Alyna, a writer from Florida and strong advocate for the mental health community. Through my writing and advocacy, I hope to add an educating voice that helps the with mood disorders learn to navigate life in a calm and self-fulfilling way. I consume Cannabis as a means to understand and connect with the world.

Written By: Alyna Paparazzi 

Edited by: Veronica Castillo

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