The technicolor gold rush in the capitalization of psychedelics companies continued Thursday as Red Light Holland, a firm gearing up to enter the psilocybin truffles market in the Netherlands, saw its stock listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE). The listing follows similar moves by Champignon Brands and MindMed in March and Psyched Wellness last week.
Red Light Holland is headed by CEO and former radio and SiriusXM shock jock Todd Shapiro, who combined his passion for capital markets and contacts he’s made in the media industry to launch the firm. Although he had experimented with psilocybin mushrooms a few times in college, Shapiro readily admits he is in no way a pioneer or longtime advocate in the field of psychedelics. But when a suicide in his family left him badly shaken, he began to look at magic mushrooms in a new light.
Shapiro’s media career had been based on research and taking deep dives into the issues of the day, so when he learned about studies that revealed psilocybin’s potential as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and PTSD, he was intrigued. And when psychedelic mushrooms helped him with his personal struggles, he was inspired.
“I started to think about how I can try to make a difference in this world beyond my radio show,” Shapiro said in a phone interview with High Times.
A Market for Magic Truffles
After learning that psilocybin truffles (which like their culinary cousins are underground clumps of fungi that send up mushrooms under favorable conditions) are legal in the Netherlands, Shapiro began developing a plan to bring the wellness benefits of psychedelics to the public. By bringing together the contacts he had made at work and while learning about capital markets, which included investors in Canada’s cannabis industry, before long he had raised $4 million dollars to get Red Light Holland off the ground.
“I pitched to people a story of passion and of love,” Shapiro explained. “I did it wearing a ball cap and Air Jordans. I’m not a typical finance guy, other than the fact that I just like to study the markets and found them intriguing.”
Although he is careful not to make any medical claims that haven’t yet been proven, Shapiro notes that anecdotal evidence and his own experience show that psilocybin can help with achieving clarity, focus, and mental wellness. Red Light Holland plans to share that potential by initially offering microdosed psilocybin truffle products for the recreational market in Holland. And as research in the field continues, Red Light hopes to develop truffles that pass muster as bona fide medical-grade therapeutics.
“I want to be able to, hopefully, prove out, with a great team of people with me and in this newly emerging sector, that psilocybin in the truffle can actually help people,” Shapiro said.
That team includes popular Canadian comedian Russell Peters as chief creative officer and Canopy Growth founder and former-CEO Bruce Linton, who also has a stake in MindMed. Linton, who has signed on as chairman of Red Light Holland’s advisory board, will use his experience with tightly regulated substances and emerging markets to help guide the company’s path forward.
“Red Light Holland’s progress to date, including its receipt of approval to list on the CSE, is another example of the strong leadership I am proud to back,” Linton said in a press release. “As an early investor in Todd’s vision, and Red Light Holland, I am looking forward to mentoring Todd and advising his strong team in this emerging psychedelic space.”
Building a Brand
As Shapiro builds the new brand and the team behind it, the new access to capital afforded by Red Light Holland’s stock market listing will allow the company to establish its infrastructure and grow into new markets. With the laws of Brazil, Bulgaria, and Jamaica also seemingly conducive to a market for psilocybin products, the company sees the potential for expansion. But any growth, Shapiro noted, will be deliberate rather than hasty.
“When you grow too big too quick you typically fail because people are burning through too much money,” he said. “We want to do this carefully and we want to do it methodically.”
Part of that strategy involves educating the public about the advances in psychedelics to share the growing body of knowledge in the field. Those outreach efforts include a robust marketing plan and a new psychedelics podcast from Red Light Holland in partnership with High Times that launches next week.
The success of Red Light Holland’s Thursday debut on the CSE under the ticker symbol TRIP, which saw more than 15 million shares of the new company change hands, isn’t going to Shapiro’s head. In fact, he’s hoping for a nascent industry that sees more cooperation than competition, as veteran advocates of psychedelics and companies working to make them more accessible come together.
“We’re very grateful for the leg work that they’ve done, and we would like to think that we can work together with everybody because the whole point of psilocybin is really to connect and to have no ego,” Shapiro explained.