Marik Hazan ’19, co-founder of Tabula Rasa Ventures, launched Psychedelic Builders this summer, a three-month incubator program for psychedelic startups and projects.
Q: Tell me about Tabula Rasa Ventures. When did you know you wanted to work in psychedelic investing? What was the catalyst in launching Tabula Rasa Ventures upon graduating from Yale SOM? Can you tell me about Tabularasa’s mission and impact goals?
A: I had been working on counter culture, controversial advocacy focused projects for several years. Built tech for the sex worker rights movement with iliac.io, contributed to structured anarchy/decentralized gov projects like aragon.org and democracy.earth. It was clear that both the psychedelic community and the rollout of psychedelics would both be largely affected, most likely in negative ways, by the rapid deployment of capital in the space. Our goal was to build a more impact focused, conscious ecosystem for investors and entrepreneurs in the space. Our mission can be found here: https://medium.com/psychedstudio/tabula-rasa-ventures-our-core-beliefs-170cde73e1f8
Q: You were a prominent figure from within the Yale SOM entrepreneurial community and a constant presence in the “Bunker” (Honest Tea Entrepreneurship Suite). What was it like working on Tabula Rasa Ventures during your time at Yale SOM?
A: The most valuable part of SOM was having a dedicated space and incredible staff and faculty to support me in building my venture. Having a community around you and a place to call your own were undoubtedly the most valuable aspects of my experience. If I could pay a subscription fee to stay in the bunker and work out of there I would, but my ID no longer lets me into the building!
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted Tabula Rasa Ventures? How have you progressed and what have you done differently?
A: Not much has changed for us. We were completely remote beforehand and we still are. What we're building doesn't need in person facilitation. Many of the startups in our incubator have been affected though as they deal with in person delivery of psychedelic assisted therapy (PAT).
Q: What excites you the most about Tabula Rasa Ventures and launching the first cohort of the accelerator?
A: Entrepreneurship and Investing is extremely biased towards privileged individuals whether you're looking at race, sex, or economic class. Not only is our incubator the first in the space, it also prioritizes providing opportunities to underrepresented founders. Over 2/3rds of our founders are female and 90% of our founders are either BIPOC or female. Not only is this space new and exciting, but the way we approach it is thrilling. We have a real chance to lay a more egalitarian foundation for business, activism, policy, and mental health.
Q:What is happening with legalized psychedelics that makes now the right time to invest in it?
A: We've seen over 500 companies enter the space in the last 12 months. When we started in mid 2018 there were five, including us. But we saw that there was immense potential in these compounds to change the therapeutic landscape and be able to provide struggling individuals with long term solutions that don't involve the constant consumption of medicines of any sort. Right now we have hundreds of millions of dollars being invested, IPOs in the US with the latest one at a 1B valuation, and more entrepreneurs starting businesses all over the globe to focus specifically on psychedelic healing.
Q: What are common misconceptions about psychedelics? What do you want people to understand?
A: Psychedelics include many different synthetic and organic compounds. It's not just one drug. There are hundreds of clinical research studies from universities like Johns Hopkins and Yale proving the efficacy of these compounds for ailments such as PTSD, Depression, and Alcohol Use Disorder. If you have doubts, look at the research. Don't take our word for it.
Additionally, we want people to understand how important these next 10 years are for the world in regards to the rollout of these compounds. Psychedelics tend to be only as effective as the set and setting in which they're administered, the integration process after the experience, and the preparation leading up to it. If we don't roll psychedelics out successfully, with patience, tact, and compassion, we'll be introducing a lot more trauma into the world which doesn't need to be there.