Here’s an exclusive look at the 21-slide pitch deck that psychedelics-education platform Fluence used to raise $3 million from top psychedelics VCs
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- When psychedelics go to market, hundreds of thousands of trained therapists will likely be needed.
- The psychedelics-education startup Fluence just raised $3 million from investors.
- The funding round is an indication that investors are looking beyond biotech.
Biotech companies in the psychedelics space have received the lion’s share of attention — and investor dollars — since the start of the industry. But that could soon change.
Fluence, a psychedelics-focused educational platform, announced Tuesday that it had raised $3 million to train therapists and other practitioners to administer psychedelic treatments for mental health. The seed round was led by the top psychedelics venture-capital firms JLS Fund, Palo Santo, and Neo Kuma. Other backers include LearnStart, which focuses on education tech, Evolve Ventures, which invests in food and retail companies, and Iter Investments, a psychedelics-focused venture-capital fund.
While psychedelics biotech giants like Compass Pathways, GH Research, and Atai Life Sciences are looking to develop synthetic psychedelic compounds through clinical trials, Fluence is working to fill a key gap in the psychedelics space: training the people who will be tasked with administering those treatments. The new investment is an indication that VCs are moving beyond biotech and into the broader psychedelics ecosystem.
The psychedelic compounds in mid- and late-stage clinical trials are being developed to be given under the supervision of multiple professionals who have been specifically trained for such work. The compounds have powerful hallucinogenic effects, and treatment times can be long: Both the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ MDMA treatment, being developed for post-traumatic stress disorder, and Compass’ psilocybin treatment for resistant depression take several hours. Both treatments are expected to require extensive onboarding and offboarding sessions for patients once they come to market.
Fluence was founded by Elizabeth Nielson and Ingmar Gorman in 2019. The startup offers a mix of in-person and virtual services that provide companies and people with certificate programs and other trainings around psychedelic therapy.
Gorman told Insider while it was difficult to pinpoint how many professionals would be needed when these drugs go to market, he estimated that it “could be in the hundreds of thousands.”
The company said that it would use the new seed funding to expand its internal team and grow its educational platform to meet that expected demand.
Nielson told Insider the expansion would include more deals with organizations looking to develop drugs, set up trials, or build out clinics.
“It’s easy to scale a drug. It’s very challenging to scale humans to be able to deliver that drug,” Gorman said.
Fluence’s chief operating officer, Michael Kuntz, who spearheaded Fluence’s funding round, told Insider that as he was pitching the company to firms in the space, he felt that investors were keenly aware of the need for more professionals trained in psychedelics-assisted therapy.
“I think they had the realization that, if there’s not enough trained mental-health professionals to actually shepherd these drugs out to the patient population, then how are these companies going to ultimately succeed in the future,” he said, adding that investing in Fluence was also a way for some of these investors to protect their biotech investments.
Here is the 21-slide pitch deck that the psychedelics-education company Fluence used to raise $3 million from top psychedelics VCs
Fluence was founded in 2019 by Elizabeth Nielson and Ingmar Gorman to train therapists how to administer psychedelic drugs.
The startup is focused on training healthcare professionals and other practitioners in psychedelics-assisted therapy. Investors, who have been largely focused on biotech, are showing interest.
The company’s cofounders were involved in psychedelics before starting Fluence. Nielsen and Gorman worked as site co-principal investigators on MAPS’s phase-three clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.
Fluence’s seed round was led by the investment firms JLS Fund, Palo Santo, and Neo Kuma, which were included in Insider’s roundup of the top investment firms in the psychedelics space last year.
See the full list here.