The psychedelic medicine industry is expanding rapidly, with areas like Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, Massachusetts decriminalizing magic mushrooms in recent elections. This Black woman-led biotech company recently launched to show how psychedelic medicines can be used for women’s health.
Aphrodite Health — a woman-focused biotech company — is introducing psychedelic medicines to address women’s mental and physical health challenges often overlooked by modern medicine. The startup launched on May 31 and is led by CEO Tesla La Touche, a Black woman healthcare professional with 20 years of experience. La Touche is clinically published and brings a wealth of experience in the surgical, biopharmaceutical and advanced, clinical technologies sector to her team. She was confident in her work as she was launching Aphrodite Health. Still, she takes a lot of pride coming into this space as the first Afro-Indigenous CEO in the psychedelic medicine industry.
“I have very intimate knowledge around what the trends are in the medical marketplace and the gaps that need to be addressed,” La Touche told AfroTech in an interview. “Coming from working in this space and bringing disruptive technology to the market, I knew that I needed to take a step into a new venture. We’ve founded the first female-focused company in the psychedelic medicine space, and we are a team of curated women that are playing to their genius.”
Aphrodite Health was founded by an all-women team of four. Including La Touche, the company’s executive team is comprised of Chief of Staff Vestaen Balbuena, a senior associate for The Conscious Fund; Chief Strategy Officer Olivia Mannix, a cannabis and psychedelics industry leader and founder of Cannabrand; and Chief Operating Officer Victoria Armstrong, a veteran tech startup leader.
“There is no better team to change women’s health treatments than this incredible group of accomplished women, and it’s wonderful to focus on something so close to my heart,” Armstrong said in a press release.
This driven team has a vision of galvanizing women worldwide to believe in psychedelic medicines, demystifying the stigmas surrounding the industry, and creating medical solutions with longevity, La Touche said.
Aphrodite Health has been in the works for a while; the company is incubated by The Conscious Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in global early-stage ventures working in the psychedelic medicine space. La Touche said the fund has been helping Aphrodite Health connect with companies in its portfolio that are now strategic partners. These new strategic partners have helped the psychedelic medicine startup embark on new opportunities that haven’t been tapped.
“We all know that women’s health-related issues across our lifespan are under-serviced and overlooked, and we saw an opportunity to address women’s health issues specifically during menopause and sex hormone mood-related disorders,” La Touche said. “We saw a real opportunity to disrupt the antidepressant market. This idea was baking inside the Conscious Fund.”
Aphrodite Health has received some undisclosed funding from the Conscious Fund to get started, but La Touche said the company is also raising its first significant venture capital funding round.
In its first year of business, Aphrodite Health will be spending a lot of time on science, research, and discovery. It will also be running a drug discovery program to bring an FDA-approved psychedelic medicine to the market eventually.
La Touche said the company has a global vision of how it plans to roll its products and ideas out, but for now, Aphrodite Health’s work will primarily focus on North America because the psychedelic industry is growing more in the U.S. and Canada.