The SXSW’s Psychedelic Track is the intersection of art, science, and business. And this year promises to open minds with the world’s must innovative and influential figures in the psychedelic industry. With a global community coming together with fresh perspectives on both old and future medicines. Not to mention the most provocative and culturally rich conversations all for and about the future of equitable psychedelics. Consider coming yourself for a chance to network and connect with the top thinkers of the psychedelic industry’s mainstream consciousness.
From microdosing to macro insights, this is your guide to the business track of SXSW’s Psychedelic Track.
SXSW Psychedelic Track Itinerary
March 10th, 2023
Mentor session: Melissa Barker (The Phoenix Project)
11:30am – 12:45pm CT | Hilton Austin Downtown | Room 400-402 | RSVP
Dr. Melissa Barker is a long-time mentor, mental health professional, founder, survivor, and CEO of The Phoenix Project. A robust mental health startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With high aims of providing greater access to high-quality healing and care for survivors of trauma. Dr. Barker believes that technology can play a critical role in improving mental health care. Such as making it more accessible to underserved communities. By creating a space where all survivors can access the care they need, regardless of their location or financial situation, Dr. Barker hopes to empower individuals to heal and thrive in their recovery journey.
Currently, Dr. Barker is working on a new venture called Phoenix 2. The project focuses on exploring the use of psychedelics as tools for deep healing and personal transformation. Dr. Barker recognizes that these substances have the potential to facilitate and accelerate the healing process. And wants to approach their use in a mindful and responsible way.
Mentor session: Agnieszka Sekula (Enosis Therapeutics)
2:30pm – 3:45pm CT | Hilton Austin Downtown | Room 400-4002 | RVSP
Agnieszka Sekula is a researcher at Swinburne University, and co-founder of Enosis Therapeutics Pty Ltd. Her work centers on exploring how psychedelic treatment can be improved through experience design. Thereby translating those findings into practical applications by designing virtual reality scenarios. She recently led the world’s first study that combined virtual reality and psychedelic treatment.
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Panel session: The Future of Psychedelics: Culture VS Capitalism
2:30pm – 3:30pm CT | Austin Convention Center | Room 8ABC
Delve into the complex and evolving relationship between culture and capitalism in the world of psychedelics. As the use of these substances gains more mainstream acceptance, it will be important to carefully consider the impact of commercialization on the mainstream community. Will a profit-driven approach result in a watering down of the deeper, transformative aspects of psychedelic experiences that are rooted in culture and spirituality? Or can responsible and ethical business practices help expand access to these treatments and drive innovation?
Natalie Lyla Ginsberg is the Global Impact Officer of Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Natalie works towards ensuring the ethical integration of psychedelic substances into mainstream culture. With a focus on creating an environment that is conducive to responsible use. Prior to her role at MAPS, Natalie served as a Policy Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance. Where she played a key role in the legalization of medical cannabis in her home state of New York.
Paula Kahn is the founder of CosmoVisiones Ancestrales, in addition to migrant justice community organizer, consent & anti-oppression educator, conflict-mediator, and a performance artist. In honor of her parents, Paula started Cosmovisiones Ancestrales. An initiative aimed at promoting popular access to preventative healthcare and holistic healing for PTSD and intergenerational trauma.
Brom Rector & Samantha Tabone are the founding partner and business partner of Empath Ventures respectively. Empath Ventures is a VC fund that invests in early-stage psychedelics startups. Brom grew up in a family with a military background and witnessed the mental health challenges that service members face. As well as the toll that these challenges take on their families. This personal experience has given him a strong understanding and appreciation for the potential of psychedelics to promote healing, particularly when it comes to treating PTSD and depression.
Samantha, meanwhile, holds an impressive background in the field of neuromedicine. She worked as the Vice President of Research and Development at PurMinds, a startup focused on developing innovative therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to her work at PurMinds, Samantha has also served as an independent consultant for several leading psychedelic companies, including Beckley Psytech.
March 11th, 2023
4:00pm – 5:15 CT | Hilton Austin Downtown | Room 400-402, RVSP
Graham Pechenik is a registered patent attorney and the founder of Calyx Law. A boutique firm that specializes in intellectual property related to cannabis and psychedelics. He obtained a BS from UC San Diego in Cognitive Neuroscience and Biochemistry; after his first psychedelic experiences piqued his interest in the basis for changes in consciousness. Graham also holds a JD from NYU, where he focused on bioethics and cognitive liberty. With over a decade of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in various industries. Including agriculture, chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and technology. Graham has extensive experience in defending and challenging patents. Which includes landmark cases at trial and on appeal. Graham is also involved in various psychedelic organizations. serving as the editor-at-large of Psychedelics Alpha, steward of the IP Committee of the Psychedelic Bar Association, and a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
March 12th, 2023
10:00am – 11:00am CT | Austin Convention Center | Room 9AB
In the world of psychedelics, traditional business practices are being challenged as companies focus on values, purpose, and patient-centered approaches. Meet the psychedelic companies who are experimenting with new approaches to ownership, governance, alternative financing.
Rachel Alden is a seasoned entrepreneur, leadership coach, and social change facilitator. With two decades of experience working with clients in the U.S., Europe, and East Africa. And as CEO of Synthesis Retreats, Rachel specializes in conscious business and leadership. But also has a keen interest in turning trauma into action and leadership. Her practice includes modalities that incorporate body, breath, meditation, and creative arts-based practices.
Jeeshan Chowdhury is the founder and CEO of Journey Colab, an Apollo Projects Fund portfolio company led by Sam Altman. Journey Colab is on a mission to revolutionize mental healthcare by bringing a range of plant-inspired psychedelic compounds through the FDA for therapeutic use, starting with mescaline.
Llana Sanada Gillooy is a leader in the psychedelic space, currently leading Strategic Initiatives for MAPS. She also serves as the Board Chair & Founder of North Star, Board Member of Chacruna, and Advisor to the Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative. With over 14 years of experience, Liana is committed to ending the drug war and building a just movement around psychedelics and cannabis. She previously helped build The Arcview Group, a prominent cannabis investment firm. Through collaboration with various allies, Liana is focused on co-creating a “more beautiful world that includes regeneration, indigenous rights, human rights, humane technology, collective liberation, and purpose-driven economics.”
Mara Zepeda is the co-founder and managing director of Zebras Unite. A global community of founders and investors creating a more ethical, inclusive, collaborative, and sustainable approach to building businesses. Previously, she founded Switchboard, a venture-backed software company. Which led her to co-found Zebras Unite with their manifesto, ‘Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break’. The movement has gained broad recognition, with an online community of 10K+ strong, 100+ member-owners, and over 25 chapters globally.
Mentor session: Josh Hardman (Psychedelic Alpha)
11:30am – 12:45pm CT | Hilton Austin Downtown | Room 400-402 | RSVP
Josh Hardman is the Founder and Editor of Psychedelic Alpha. An online publication delving into the business side of psychedelics. He provides weekly updates on the industry and collaborates with experts. Such as creating free resources and datasets to help navigate this emerging field.
Panel session: The Business of Psychedelics 2.0
2:30pm – 3:30pm CT | Austin Convention Center | Room 8ABC
Discovering the right opportunities in the emerging psychedelics market is tricky. While some investors are attracted to celebrity endorsements, others are doing their homework to find hidden gems. With a plethora of investment options, including public and private markets, drug development, and services businesses. Alongside various compounds to consider such as Psilocybin and Ketamine, it can be hard to know where to start. Hear from private sector founders and industry thought leaders as they discuss the future of the psychedelics business, what to keep an eye out for, and how to avoid potential pitfalls.
Myrlam Barthes is the COO and Co-founder of Journey Clinical, a telehealth platform enabling licensed mental health professionals to offer psychedelic therapies to their clients. With over 10 years of experience in strategy and performance improvement consulting at Ernst & Young. As well as leading an Impact team at an AI startup in New York, Barthes now uses her operational expertise to advance Journey Clinical’s mission of making psychedelic therapies more accessible and affordable.
Daniel Goldberg is a founder of Palo Santo and Bridge Investments, and has been supporting entrepreneurs for 20 years. He’s passionate about the potential of psychedelic medicines. Developing a deep network of relationships across the research and business communities. Daniel’s purpose-driven and science-informed approach has led him to support promising treatments and ensure widespread access to safe and effective solutions.
Imran Khan is the executive director of the recently launched UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, co-founded by Michael Pollan. He collaborates with faculty members to develop the center’s strategy and manages the BCSP team. Previously, Imran was the CEO of the British Science Association. As well as leading public engagement efforts at Wellcome, the world’s third-largest philanthropic foundation.
Luke Putejovsky is the co-founder and COO of Tactogen, a pharmatech startup that aims to develop empathogens. He strongly believes that mental health is a global priority. And that psychedelics, when combined with talk therapy, can provide transformative benefits. Together with co-founder Matt Baggott, Luke established Tactogen. A public benefit corporation focused on making psychedelic medicines safer, more effective, and accessible. Unlike other psychedelic medicines that require extensive clinical monitoring. Tactogen’s lead molecules are designed to be gentler and safer; making them more flexible and versatile in various settings.
4:00pm – 5:00pm CT | JW Marriot | Brazos Room
Join the conversation on the future of psychedelics at this SXSW meetup hosted by Psychedelic Society of Texas Director Caitlin Riley and investor Mary Olivar. The event is open to all enthusiasts, from healthcare professionals to artists and policymakers. Everyone passionate about the emerging psychedelic movement, and eager to connect with like-minded individuals, are welcomed.
Mary Oliver is a natural foods industry veteran with over 30 years of experience, including developing and directing the Healthy Eating Program for Whole Foods Market. In 2014, she shifted her focus to the emerging cannabis industry as an advisor, investor, and advocate. Mary is passionate about the potential of plants for healing and wisdom, and supports value-aligned businesses. She is also on the board for the Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, working with indigenous communities to preserve their knowledge for future generations.
Caitlin Riley is a creative strategist, producer, and director of the Psychedelic Society of Texas (PsyT). A community organization focused on education, integration, conversation, connection, and harm reduction related to psychedelics. She has produced programs such as “Psychedelics: Chemicals, Consciousness & Connection” for the World Science Festival, featuring Brian Greene, Rick Doblin, Reggie Watts, and Gül Dölen. And created content for HBO, Whole Foods Market, and Personal Plants. Caitlin is a passionate traveler and storyteller who has sought out firsthand experience with psychedelic medicine.