Cosmo Feilding Mellen has been making huge strides in fueling the second psychedelic renaissance. This time with a professional pharmaceutical theme.
On the Dealmakers Show, Cosmo shared the journey of getting your emerging ideas taken seriously, gaining visibility, to getting funded, and beyond. He has worked with the likes of Richard Branson, and many other pioneering entrepreneurs and leaders from around the world. His latest venture has put $100M in the bank to forward this revolution to becoming accepted in the mainstream.
Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.
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Cosmo Fielding Mellen was born to what he describes as rather “unconventional parents,” who have shaped much of his career.
Since the first psychedelic renaissance in the 60s they’ve committed their lives to psychedelics and the potential of psychoactive substances and altered states of consciousness to make the world a better place.
They both had their own experiences with psychedelics. Long before giving up smoking was a thing, his father found one of these experiences enabled him to instantly kick a 60 a day cigarette habit.
His mother and father had run an art industry business together. Though ever since his mom had left school at 16 she had been trying to get people to pay attention to this subject of psychedelics, and their positive potential.
Trying to do it all alone as an individual, in this very fringe space wasn’t easy. So, she decided to try to reframe it as a foundation. Which she started out of their home in the English countryside, just outside of Oxford. Today, she is regarded as one of the leading minds in this emerging industry.
The Beckley Foundation, was a nonprofit focused on two main factors. Firstly to respark scientific interest and research in psychedelic compounds, and their medical potential. Then secondly to research and campaign for evidence-based drug policy reform.
They found that as a foundation they were able to attract legitimate partners, including top scientists, and even top drug policy experts and politicians to become members of the board. It was a shift from being an individual activist to being an institutional campaigner.
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Cosmo was surrounded by this throughout his time growing up. He always thought about bringing his own contribution to it. After attending Oxford for university, he found his first opportunity through filmmaking.
He had offered himself as a guinea pig for psilocybin studies at Imperial college in London. Though saw film as a way to raise awareness and increase the audience around this subject.
Richard Barnson’s son was the executive producer of Cosmo’s first documentary. It focused on presidents from around the world, their global commission on drug policy, and their journeys in evolving drug policies.
His second documentary was on Netflix, and hit #1 in its category on iTunes. This gave him more creative freedom for his next film, The Sunshine Makers. A real life Breaking Bad type story of underground chemists who made the most famous LSD ever. That film made it into movie theaters.
The next step to forward their world in psychedelics was to create an actual business.
This was a moment when there was fresh, increasing interest in cannabis and psychedelics. Specifically around legalization and for medical purposes.
With the Beckley Foundation, they saw the opportunity to further their work by becoming an ethical beacon for all of the players attempting to enter this space. As well as to set up companies that could have a wider reach than a nonprofit alone, and which could attract more capital.
Cosmo connected with Mark Wayne. Mark was the head of Canopy Health. A pioneer in the cannabis industry in Canada.
Canada was already legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. Mark had been one of the first licensed producers that had gone public. That company then merged with Canopy Growth to become the largest company in its industry in the world.
They met and hit it off. Mark was looking to hone in on the pharmaceutical side, and really get serious about putting products through official approvals, just like other medicines.
They teamed up and started Beckley Canopy Therapeutics. They Raised $10M for the company, and were soon acquired for $80M.
Like all good entrepreneurs Cosmo had already been working on his next idea. This has turned into Beckley Psytech, of which he is currently the CEO.
The company is focused on developing psychedelics into pharmaceutical medicines. A space for which they see huge potential.
Their previous investors had made a lot of money out of the previous exit, so it wasn’t difficult to find backing for a new venture. They set up in 2019, and raised $100M to get going. By the summer of 2021 they had already raised through an oversubscribed Series B round, which brought in $100M.
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Beckley Psytech is working on taking all of the credible academic research that has been done, and turning it into real treatments with commercial viability. This includes neurological and psychiatric conditions as well as treatment-resistant depression.
They have attracted incredible talent that believes in the mission and are willing to commit their careers to it. Including the former head of global medical affairs from Johnson & Johnson.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- How psychedelic assisted psychotherapy works
- How psychedelics work in the brain
- The best part of the journey when building a business
- Cosmo’s top advice before starting your own company