Saks Snacks #25: Psychedelics, Maternal Health, TikTok's Explosiveness
Beautiful Alexa Use Case | DTC Men's Health | Ōura Ring Partners with Gucci, and More
Hi friends from SF, 👋.
If you’re new to Saks’ Snacks, I’m Adam Saks, a Digital Strategy Lead at Google, and a creator focused on the emerging intersections of health and technology.
Reading is and should be fun. I encourage you to explore what interests you most.
Here’s today’s content:
🍄 Quick Industry Outlook (psychedelics)
🥑 Snacks of the week (x4) - Amazon + healthcare, Oura partners with Gucci
💰 Capital Raise Radar - Maternal Health + Men’s DTC health
🎙️ Pod of the Week - Dr. Rhonda Patrick + Dr. Andrew Huberman
💥 Spark Moment of the Week - TikTok’s Explosiveness
🍄#1 Quick Industry Outlook: psychedelics
This week’s edition highlights 2 articles in the psychedelic realm. Before we dive in... Does this sound “out there” to you? I’m here to tell you it’s not.
It’s rare in a capitalist society where we can do good and do well for humanity in equal measure. That opportunity exists with psychedelics.
We’re at this new age where nobody wants to fight the drug war anymore. It’s no longer part of the culture wars. We have bigger fish to fry.
The global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% in 2020. When you look at the limits of available treatment options, something has to give.
Let me be clear: psychedelics won’t eradicate anxiety and depression, but I’m hopeful they can help more people than current treatments do. I’m eager to update you on landmark studies demonstrating long-term relief of major depressive disorder symptoms and and remain interested in combining psychedelics with psychotherapy.
With legitimate clinical research coming out of Johns Hopkins, as clinical results get further proven out, they’ll likely become decriminalized and legalized. One of the the next catalysts will be positive results coming from the clinical trials ongoing in PTSD with FDA approval.
I see a massive shift coming. I see the psychedelic market being larger than the marijuana market in 15 years.
Over the last 20 years, there has been a growing renaissance of research with classic psychedelics—the pharmacological class of compounds that include psilocybin, an ingredient found in so-called magic mushrooms. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, psilocybin can produce perceptual changes, altering a person's awareness of their surroundings and of their thoughts and feelings. Treatment with psilocybin has shown promise in research settings for treating a range of mental health disorders and addictionsˇ - JHU
There’s a lot more to the story than just depression and anxiety. There will be applications in the broader human performance realm. They’ll help people reach their whole potential.
Enough of my takes for now, let’s dive into the best industry reads of the week:
#2 🥑 Snacks of the week (x4)
🍄 Psychedelics will play a major role addressing different mental health crises and also have wide-ranging non-psychiatric applications. This recent TechCrunch article addresses other focuses like addiction treatment, patient data capture, and inflammatory disorders. Read more about investing in psychedelic therapeutics and Palo Santo’s investment thesis.
Regulators and the general public have been more willing to look into alternatives such as psychedelics.
“Previously relegated to underground communities and rave culture, drugs like ketamine, MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy) and psilocybin are now being studied to develop therapies to treat everything from PTSD to cluster headaches.
“Today, there are 400+ ketamine clinics in the U.S., and over $200m has been raised over the last two years to open even more,” Dina Burkitbayeva, founder of PsyMed Ventures, said. “Many of these clinics will be sites for MDMA- and psilocybin-assisted therapies, if they are approved, and treatments derived from other molecules as they become available.”
🍄 Why Psychedelics? A doctor’s journey through a transformative space. This article by Hillay Lin (a skeptic) was so well written. She described her doubts, how she perceived the industry as “mere hype” and the people driving it forward as “off-the wall” and very “woo”. I felt this way too.
However, her observations of her patients as a mental health practitioner helped overcome these hesitations. She describes “prescribing incredibly mediocre medications” that “kinda work, but not really”. Shouldn’t there be novel, better options that actually work? An eye-opening piece.
Amazon + Healthcare: Amazon introduced two new “Alexa Together features to help aging customers and their remote caregivers.
This tech could be beautiful if we used it like the video portrays. Let’s be real though - nobody taught us how to use this s***. There’s so much opportunity to leverage this tech that I think entire classes/programs can be created on how to best leverage this new-age tech. I’m bullish on personal assistant use cases and am interested to continue covering Alexa’s progress here.
#3 💰 Capital Raise Radar Snacks
2 venture raises from Fitt Insider and 1 article analyzing disruptive healthcare:
👩 👶 Maternal Health: Mahmee raised a $9.2M Series A round. Mahmee launched in 2016 and has addressed disparities in maternal healthcare, significantly reducing premature births (-50%) and C-sections (-10%). They offer a place to manage maternity care and a national network of community-based birth professionals. Mahmee’s subscription for daily live support gives expectant mothers a different experience than any other maternity app: a team of seasoned nurses and care coordinators to proactively screen and monitor health needs, make referrals to culturally competent professionals, and assist with navigating social services.
This comes at a critical time for expectant mothers across the country. The 🇺🇸 is the most expensive place to give birth, yet ranks 50th globally in maternal mortality.
Black + Indigenous women are 2-4 times more likely to die during or after childbirth. Research more lives can be saved by increasing clinical care coordination and community-based support that a mother receives during the most critical risk period: the months before and after labor.
💰 Disruptive Healthcare investment analysis: Some good thoughts and analysis from Stephen Hays (What if Ventures) on what a fair valuation for a disruptive healthcare startup is in a bear market.
#4 💥 Spark Moment of the Week
Tiktok is the front page of the internet.
Rex Woodbury @rex_woodburyTikTok comments are leading indicators for the next 20-30 years of economic and social change https://t.co/j3740AgkkA
4 months ago, I tweeted about TikTok being the pulse of the internet and earlier this week, the truth revealed itself again.
My RunWithMe business partner shared a 8 second inspirational TikTok…
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We made a wish for the algorithm to connect us with first-time runners.
A few days later and 60,000 (free) views later, comments were spilling from all across the world. All human emotions were being spilled, typical of Gen Z’s.
Some people had just gotten into running, others had committed to their first race and were scared. It was validating to see interest around what we’re trying to build as we figure out what the sweet spot between coaching, structure, onboarding, content, empowerment, accountability, and more.
The funny thing is, this is chump change for the TikTok algorithm.
With over 1 billion users and around 650,000 new users onboarding daily, there are simply so many people on the damn platform.
While I’m still figuring out what’s the most impactful path for the business, I was shown this week the power of TikTok’s algorithm and virality. I’ve been finding both the beauty and the struggle of creating something new, like we explored in Edition 24, and hope to have more thoughts to share over time.
#5 🎙️ Pods of the Week - 1 of this week’s listens
Lots of protocols to live better daily: Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Andrew Huberman discuss actionable protocols on getting key micronutrients from food & supplements, as well as protocols for deliberate heat and cold exposure for varying health benefits. Definitely jump around in the podcast. A few learnings I had:
Inadequate Vitamin D Levels: 70% of the US population has inadequate Vitamin D levels (less than 30 nanograms per mililiter), as defined by the Endocrine Society.
Skin is an endocrine organ - it has the capacity to make things that impact hormones and make hormones
Stress Response pathways: certain intermittent challenges actually activate genetic paths within our bodies, and our bodies respond to appropriate amounts of stress. Examples they discuss are food scarcity, heat, cold exposure, and intermittent fasting
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Have a save Memorial Day weekend and creative week ahead,