Co-founder and Managing Principal Dustin Robinson, a Florida-based cannabis and psychedelics attorney, is already an industry veteran. Through his nonprofit Mr. Psychedelic Law, which is focused on driving legal reform through medical research, Robinson and his team have drafted various psychedelic bills and resolutions, including a Florida bill filed by State Rep. Michael Grieco (D-Miami Beach) that seeks to legalize psilocybin mushrooms and decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi. He is also the co-founder of other nonprofits in the psychedelic space, which include Mind Army, and currently represents the Psychedelic Pharmacists Association.
Among some of Iter Investments’ portfolio companies are Wesana, which aims to treat traumatic brain injury using psilocybin and other natural therapies; and Awakn Life Sciences, a biotech firm focused on developing psychedelic drugs and therapies to treat addiction.
When Robinson decided to launch Iter Investments, he teamed up with Robert Velarde, a seasoned private equity investor with over 25 years of global private equity investment experience in a broad range of industries in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia. Recently, Robinson took a break from his jampacked schedule to answer a few questions about Iter Investments via email.
This Q&A was edited for conciseness and clarity.
Iris Dorbian: What prompted you to launch Iter Investments?
Dustin Robinson: Towards the end of 2018, several of my cannabis clients started inquiring about getting into the psychedelic industry. Specifically, the doctors I represent were inquiring about launching ketamine clinics as well as setting up some psychedelic research programs. Originally, I was helping my clients in my legal capacity. At the end of 2019, I co-founded Mr. Psychedelic Law with one of my clients, Dr. Michelle Weiner. [Mr. Psychedelic Law] is a nonprofit focused on legal reform of psychedelic medicines and raising awareness around psychedelic medicines. The more I read on the research around psychedelics, the more I realized that these medicines can transform the mental and behavioral health space. While I was helping the industry in my capacity as a lawyer and advocate, I realized I can have the biggest impact on the industry (and society-at-large) by deploying capital into the research around psychedelic space. That’s when I decided to launch the venture capital firm with a focus on deploying capital into psychedelic research and the supporting infrastructure for psychedelic medicines.
Dorbian: How does this psychedelic venture capital firm differ from the others that have already launched?
Robinson: First, our team: I believe we’ve built the strongest multi-disciplinary team in the psychedelic industry, consisting of lawyers, doctors, scientists, MBAs and CPAs. Additionally, our investment thesis: Whereas several of the other funds are strictly focused on psychedelic drug development, we focus on the entire psychedelic value chain.
Dorbian: What were the reasons for some of these investments in Iter’s portfolio?
Robinson: We focus on three things: team, vision, and strength of intellectual property. For example, we are the lead investor in Psilera Bioscience. Psilera was founded by two brilliant PhDs, Chris Witkowski and Jackie von Salm. Psilera’s vision for bringing psychedelic medicines to market is very strong; and Psilera’s intellectual property includes various new chemical entities and a transdermal delivery system for psychedelic medicines.
Dorbian: Where would you like to see Iter Investments in the future?
Robinson: We’d like to be known as the go-to resource within the psychedelic industry for “smart capital” that adds value to our portfolio companies through our deep knowledge and network within the industry. We will likely have multiple funds after this first fund, but we are also looking to potentially provide other advisory services in the future.