Psychedelic startups are challenging stereotypes to bring hallucinogens into mental health care

LSD, magic mushrooms, MDMA, ketamine, DMT… it’s a suspicious product line for a legitimate company – and psychedelic startups know it. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the industry is wary of the stereotypes surrounding hallucinogens.

“What the industry really needs is the most boring person in the room presenting the topic,” said Clara Burtenshaw, co-founder of Neo Kuma VenturesEurope’s largest venture capital fund for psychedelic healthcare.

It would be harsh to call Burtenshaw the most boring person in the room, but she’s not the clichéd outing enthusiast. More polished entrepreneur than kaleidoscopic hippie, Burtenshaw was a corporate lawyer before turning to psychedelic health care.

It was an unusual career move with a familiar origin: watching loved ones struggle with their mental health. Burtenshaw thought psychedelics might provide a better cure.

At the end of 2019, she co-founded Neo Kuma (Greek for “New Wave”) to invest in the treatments. Her timing proved prescient. Within weeks, the world was plunged into a mental health epidemic.

Clara Burtenshaw