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The Magic of Mushrooms  🍄

The Magic of Mushrooms  🍄
August 25, 2021

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If you’re a fan of time-lapse vegetation growth and “stoned ape” theory, you must watch "Fantastic Fungi" on Netflix. The algorithm only recently brought me this 2019 gem on a topic currently gaining popularity in wellness spaces. The documentary chronicles the amateur and professional research and science of mycology, or, the study of fungi. Amateur mycologist Paul Stamets takes center stage (in his signature amadou hat–yours for $299 on Etsy) as a former stutterer and socially-awkward kid who, after one experience with the mushroom containing the hallucinogenic component psilocin, lost the stutter and could suddenly talk to girls. From that revelation, he has become a leading expert-sans-diploma on the healing properties of all kinds of fungi–from tasty to transcendent. 

While cannabis has been on its journey from medicinal plant to street drug, and back again, magic mushrooms (those containing psilocybin) have slowly sprouted similar recognition of their beneficial properties. They’re being used in medical trials of microdosing for ailments ranging from dementia to PTSD and their less hallucinogenic counterparts (eg, shitake, reishi, and lion’s mane) are being studied and sold for all sorts of ailments. 


                                                                                 Image: Mushroom Design
Early signs of mush-boom to come

Many of the mushroom businesses we’re covering today haven’t met our threshold of funding or revenue to make it on our database, but we’ll continue to watch the space as things progress. In the meantime, several companies focusing on the adaptogenic benefits of mushrooms rooted in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, are Moodbeli, Wake, Apothekary (which has so far raised $500K under the parent Wellthy & Co.), and pharmacy-of-the-future, Mushroom Design.

Paul Stamets now holds several patents for using mushrooms as a biopesticide, eradicating armies of termites and other pests. His company Fungi Perfecti also sells mushroom supplements from its labs in Olympia Washington under the name Host Defense. 


Money grows on (dead) trees

Fungi has endless varieties as well as applications. Modern Mushroom Farm in Avondale, PA grows and sells its mushrooms for consumption but recycles unused mushrooms for a second application: soil compost. Ecovative uses mushrooms in the product design of household items, meat alternatives, packaging, and leather-like textiles; the company raised $60MM in Series D funding in March led by Viking Global Investors. To-Jo makes mushroom burgers, as juicy as the real thing. Mushrooms–what can’t they do?


Legal Future

Many entrepreneurs and investors familiar with the cannabis trajectory and gold rush of that industry are placing bets on the magic mushroom. Flow State Micro is on a mission to see fungi decriminalized and accessible to all. In the meantime, the company offers education, resources, and a microdosing mushroom minus the psilocybin. The founders of Canadian public company Aurora Cannabis have swapped weed for shrooms, looking for the next open avenue of plant wellness.


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Since last week, PrivCo has added:

561 Companies | 113 Funding Activities | 59 M&A Deals

Funding & Deal Highlights:


Canada Pension Plan acquires more shares of Advanced Drainage Systems for $350MM 

Engineering • Acquisition • Hilliard, OH

Roblox acquires Guilded 

Video Games • Acquisition • San Francisco, CA

RepairSmith raises $42MM from TI Capital

Automotive Repair • Round B • El Segundo, CA

ICON raises $207MM from Norwest Venture Partners

3D Construction • Round B • Austin, TC

Ramp raises $300MM from Founders Fund

Credit Card • Round C • New York, NY

KhataBook raises $100MM from Tribe Capital

Fintech • Round C • Bengaluru, India

Shelf raises $52.5M from Tiger Global

Collaboration • Round B • Stamford, CT

Covera Health raises $25MM from Insight Partners

Health Care • Round C • New York, NY

Armored Things raises $12MM from Nimble Ventures

Analytics • Round A • Boston, MA

NextGen Acquisition Corp. acquires Virgin Orbit for $3.7BN

Space • SPAC • West Sussex, U.K.

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