Healthtech/Analysis/

Europe’s microdosing companies

Opportunists are jumping on the growing appetite for psychedelics in society

By Tim Smith in Barcelona

For some time, the startup world has been searching for a real-life version of the drug from the movie “Limitless” — where Bradley Cooper takes a daily pill that unlocks the true potential of his brain. 

Big-name investors have backed novel “smart drugs” that claim to boost mental performance, but there’s also a new crop of startups that think this holy grail of hustle culture can be found in the humble mushroom: the magic mushroom, that is.

Last year one anonymous founder told Sifted that he’d been turning up to work under the (subtle) influence of psilocybin — the psychoactive compound in psychedelic mushrooms — with impressive results.

“​​I was a bit amazed at how productive I was and how, a lot of the time, I could just keep on working without getting distracted,” he said.

Welcome to the world of microdosing — the method of taking low dosages of psychedelic substances — which is now spawning a whole subsector in Europe’s growing psychedelic space.

Meet the microdosing companies

It’s no coincidence that all of the companies we talk about in this article are based in the Netherlands. The country has become the microdosing capital of Europe, thanks to the fact that it’s legal to sell psilocybin truffles there (a part of the mushroom that grows underground).

Hedonistic holiday makers have been buying these truffles over the counter in the Netherlands for years, but now startups are re-packaging them, along with guides on how to “safely” consume them at low doses. 

These companies all try to differentiate their product with a slightly different spin on microdosing mythology — with some promising spiritual awakening, and others appealing to time-strapped social media influencers in search of a productivity hack. They also differ a little when it comes to offering microdosing “coaches”, which range from certified therapists to Peruvian ancient healers.

But don’t be too taken in by the marketing spiel — all of these companies are really selling exactly the same psychoactive product.

They also all advise that customers should check the legal status of consuming psilocybin truffles in their own country before buying them. Sifted of course also recommends that consumers fully research the effects and risks of psychedelics before buying into the glossy marketing of any of these companies.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at how their offerings compare.

Earth Resonancesocial media advert for microdosing company Earth Resonance

Earth Resonance was the first microdosing startup on Sifted’s radar, after a social media advertising blitz last year, which promised workplace productivity gains for microdosers.

The company leans into the shamanic history of psychedelics, promising customers “spiritual awakenings” and the chance to “resonate with the vibration of mother earth”. Its coaches boast credentials like “ceremonialist”, “oriental medicine practitioner” and “nature retreat leader” — without listing any formal qualifications on the website.

Earth Resonance sells microdosing kits starting at €44.99, which includes a month’s worth of low-dose truffles plus a written “protocol” that tells you how and when to consume them, along with advice on what to expect. Customers can also pay an extra €49 to speak to one of the coaches — over four 15-minute sessions — before, during and after the month-long experience.

AydooMicrodosing startup Aydoo's product

Aydoo is pushing a more “premium” and scientific approach to microdosing than Earth Resonance. It’s the only one of the startups to give customers a chemistry lesson on the homepage, which explains some of the basics about how psychedelics are believed to work on the brain.

The homepage also features a testimonial from a real-life neurologist, Dr. Chris van der Linden, from the St. Lucas Hospital in Ghent. Aydoo’s only listed coach describes himself as a “lifestyle coach for executives” with five years of experience.

Aydoo customers can book onto a guided eight-week programme with limited places, which includes a 30-minute introduction call with a coach, as well as a “kick off” group call with the other participants. There are then regular 10-minute calls with the coach every two weeks during the microdosing programme, which costs €299. 

If that all sounds a bit much, customers can also just buy a pack of the truffles for €45, if they complete a survey saying they don’t have pre-existing health conditions. This is accompanied by access to an app that outlines the microdosing programme, and gives access to a direct chat with Aydoo’s “microdosing expert”.

Microdose Promicrodosing startup Microdose Pro's product

Microdose Pro offers another slickly-packaged microdosing experience, but with more of a marketing focus on productivity and performance than its rivals. The homepage claims that “entrepreneurs, self-improvement experts and social influencers” have all reported benefits from microdosing and the company says it wants to be a “trusted platform” for the “startup, creative and self-growth communities”.

The founders describe themselves as three “serial entrepreneurs” who’ve all been microdosing for five years, which they say has played a big role in their “professional routine and success.”

The company’s lead coach is a fully qualified neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist who says his sessions are based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (a “fusion of eastern philosophy and western psychology”). 

The microdose programme costs €80 and includes enough truffles to microdose for three weeks and an optional workshop with the company’s lead coach. They also sell a pack of truffles with a “microdosing information card” for as little as €14.

Microdose.nlMicrodose NL's product

Microdose.nl is the commercial partner of the Microdosing Institute, an “education, community and research platform” that says it brings together modern science and ancestral wisdom to “ensure the safe, conscious and effective microdosing of psychedelics.”

Microdose.nl’s customers can pay €95 for one-to-one coaching with one of the Microdosing Institute’s practitioners, which include qualified therapists, a Peruvian-Andean ancestral healer and a number of different coaches.

The cheapest psychedelic truffle pack customers can buy costs just €10, while all of the advice for how and when to microdose is available for free online. The microdosing programme is based on the work of PhD James Fadiman, who’s been publishing research on psychedelics since the 1960s and is described by Microdose.nl as “the Father of Microdosing.”

If you’re a founder running a business in a sector that people might consider to be “taboo”, come along to the Sifted Summit, October 5-6, where we’re running a specialist roundtable on how to handle stigma around your startup.

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