The third episode of the Psychedelic Invest Podcast, features the incredible Navea Reeves of Tripp, Inc. Among other things, Tripp is a virtual reality experience designed specifically to create wellness experiences. Nanea is the Founder and serves as the CEO of the company.
During the interview, host Bruce Eckfeldt delves into all of the opportunities Tripp has in front of them. Whether it’s the Oculus headset, augmented reality, or the metaverse, Tripp is on the cutting edge of what well-being and experiential treatments could look like in the future.
We hope you enjoy the conversation.
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You’re listening to the psychedelic invest podcast where we speak with founders, CEOs, investors, advisors, experts and thought leaders in the brave new world of psychedelics and entheogenic medicines brought to you by psychedelic and best bring you unparalleled psychedelic investing data and analysis. Psychedelic invest is the industry’s leading resource for those looking to invest in the burgeoning psychedelic industry. For more information and to access all of the podcast episodes, check out our website at psychedelic invest.com/podcast And now here’s the host of the psychedelic invest podcast, Bruce exiled.
Welcome everyone. This is the psychedelic invest Podcast. I’m percent foul. I’m your host. Our guest today is Neha Reaves, she is co founder and CEO of trip, we’re going to talk to her about the work they are doing in psychedelics and technology. Fascinated by this, I always love people who are pivoting into new spaces, particularly into psychedelics, fascinating world. These days, we’re bringing in lots of folks from lots of different backgrounds. And an AI is certainly a great example of that of bringing a background insight, expertise, skills, technologies to really help develop this industry, fascinated by it, fascinated by her background, excited for this conversation. But that many Welcome to the program.
Thank you, Bruce, thank you for that great introduction as well, I’m excited to be here.
It’s a pleasure to have you. So before we kind of dive into what you’re doing with trip and all the kinds of exciting things you’ve got going on tech and helping with psychedelics, give us a little background, how did you get here? What What were you doing before paint the picture for us,
I feel at this point in my life that everything I’ve experienced, whether it was a troubled childhood and and the tools that I sought out as a result, to support myself a career in the video game industry, that, you know, allowed me to get this idea funded, I just feel like it was all very synchronistic and getting me to be in the fighting shape that I need to build this company trip. I as I mentioned, I was the child of a drug addicted mother and, and also the oldest child. So I took on all this responsibility that I felt in many ways, when I look at it with a reframed point of view, you know, a shift in my perspective, I can see that there was a tremendous amount of strength, encourage that growing up in that type of environment created. But you know, as a child, and especially as a teenager, I found that it also created a lot of psychological stress and, you know, subsequent mental health issues.
Yeah, yeah. So I’m like, what I’m gonna guess what, what have you been able to kind of leverage in terms of now, as you’re approaching the business side? I mean, how has that kind of played out for you in terms of, you know, insight, you know, resilience, like, how does it show up?
What, you know, it’s interesting, because I do think individuals will respond to their environment in different ways. I had a sister who was two years younger than me, and where I found strength and courage, she was broken, and turn to self medication through illegal drugs to help her get through, you know, her internal environment. And, you know, we lost her in 2012, to a drug overdose. And so I think that, you know, our focus and what really motivates me as an entrepreneur is to how to use technology in positive ways that can help support people Rue navigating these challenges, and also, why I’ve been so excited about what is happening in the psychedelic application for mental health issues, because there’s some thoughts that, you know, at least I have this concept that it could very well be one of the most significant contributions in our lifetime when psilocybin is finally approved by the FDA. And, you know, the reason why I think that is the protocol is extremely disruptive, you know, that the it’s almost has an instantaneous impact on improving your emotional and mental states of of being, you know, your relationship to self. And, you know, that’s not the way our medical industry likes to treat anything in today’s world. And so, you know, I look at that concept of instantaneous healing, you know, for whatever reason, and I can identify two areas that really differentiated me from my sister, even though we grew grew up in the same environment, the same DNA, same life experiences, I had a real interest in technology at a very early age, you know, was always kind of taking things apart and putting them back together. And then ultimately, you know, when video games really showed up in my life, I found that it was a way that I could immerse myself into experiences that made me feel in control of my world, even if it was kind of a fantasy relationship to it. And, you know, it doesn’t go past me that I could see myself as a hero and a builder and a maker as a young female. That was also I think, probably a contributing factor as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. And then the the second thing that really I think was a course correction for me was, I did have a mental health episode when I was about 15. That ended me in up in the hospital. And it was there that I met with the therapist who taught me how to meditate. And this was way before the MC mindfulness world that we live in today. Where you have an app, I’m pretty sure somebody’s inventing a way to outsource your mindfulness practice. Bots do it for us. Yeah. But I do feel like that was a game changer, because it was in that space, that I could start to reframe how I looked at the damage, I had gone through the trauma, that I was still, you know, acting upon in my day to day decision framework. And there was this ship is also interesting, you know, there was a time in my early teens, where I was doing psychedelics. And, you know, I often think that young people can turn to drugs, you know, with this concept of self medication, as well. And so my goal would be as an entrepreneur, you know, can we get technology interfaces into the hands of kids that can help them as opposed to, you know, pushing them in the direction of this constant sense of depression and anxiety that a lot of social media can do for kids? nowadays? I do believe in the concept that tech can be used for good, contrary to the public narrative.
Yeah, you know, Texas is a tool, it can be used in all sorts of different ways. And I certainly could see it as being I mean, I think you’ve mentioned this, as you know, it can be a means of escape of kind of avoiding or escaping situations, context issues, or it can be used as a tool to help mediate help process, you know, help enlighten, like, how do you see that balance? Or what’s the difference between those? Or were, I guess, do you see that as a concern, of course, and, you know, I’ve seen my own relationships, the different applications and obsessive use during different times of my life. And some of that is actually manipulated, and designed into the product, we feel very strongly at trip, currently, our business model is subscription. And in many ways that exchange is a very honest exchange, a lot of people don’t like recurring payments. But, you know, it allows us to continue to evolve the product, we have to work hard to maintain your engagement and your connection to our product by introducing new content that is of interest to you. And, you know, we know immediately when we’re failing in that, because you one subscribe, right? And it also has us focus on the value proposition of the product to you as the customer more directly, as opposed to using our customers as a product themselves to advertisers, you know, as an alternate revenue stream, and I think that that, you know, users give up so much in order to avoid paying for a product or to get access to a product for free, you know, coming from the games industry, you have a young, oftentimes juvenile audience that doesn’t have access to payment types, etc, unless their parents opt into it. And, you know, so there is this monetization of content, you know, that I think, can create addictive patterns, because, you know, they’re driven by other incentives. And so in many ways, our commitment to trying to continue to create value is really driven by some things around the idea of psychological safety in our experiences, how we collect and store data in ways that can build trust and has benefit to the user, not the advertiser. So it’s interesting to think about these incentive models and I How they can easily even with the best intentions get warped if they’re not constructed from the onset and with the right kind of thinking, yeah. So tell us more about trip. I mean, how I guess how did the idea come up for you? How have things developed? Where are you now give us a little kind of history and story of the business.
I’ve had a great career in the video game industry, you know, that love have an interest in technology really led me into a wonderful journey and saw some very good success. In the early days of mobile gaming, ran technology at one of the biggest early stage mobile game companies a company called jam debt that was acquired by Electronic Arts. And you know, and from there just really started to learn a lot about transactions, et cetera, you know, different in game transactions, all of these things that I just talked about, you know, I was actively involved in creating. And so I ended up going through a personal experience where I lost my sister to a drug overdose, as I mentioned, and then I lost my mother and my husband to cancer very quickly. And it was in that experience of emerging from my grief that I started to really think about, Okay, I’ve lost everyone on love, and who loves me, and I’m at this turning point in my career where I know my ideas can get funded, and what exactly do I want to build? And what is the company look like that I want to run? You know, prior to that I had been CEO, oh, level executive running operations, running tech running product. But I thought, you know, what is my vision that I want to put all of my efforts into, and this idea to take meditation and gameplay mechanics and bring them together? And the immersion of VR really came out of that mindset of asking myself, what, what does the company look like that I want to build. And so we started prototyping, I had two co founders who are no longer with the company. But we all work together many times throughout the years, we’re all part of building the foundation of the company. And we started prototyping these ideas. And what we found was simulated environments actually weren’t as calming, or not having really the same effect that we initially thought they would be. Because when you have this concept of even just meditation in VR, your brain automatically goes, Oh, I’m gonna be on a beach and a Celtic voice is going to tell them to relax, right? It’s chirping in the background. Yeah, exactly. But what we found when we experimented with creating those type of environments was, you know, we all have this frame of reference of what a beach should smell and feel like, and when that’s not happening, you know, on the surface of our skin, or we’re not smelling that sea spray, the brain gets this almost, you know, like an uncanny valley response, where what’s wrong with this environment. So we leaned into a How can we create a stimulating environments rather than focus on simulation, and put you in experiences you can’t have in real life that you don’t have a frame of reference for and started investigating some of the impact of on mental well being Ewe, and how we could trigger states of all with playing with scale, and environments that were fantastic and psychedelic, but incorporated healing sound frequencies, mindfulness structures, instead of telling you to inhale and exhale, we actually show your breath coming out of you as crystals. And you know, and you inhaling light, you know, these are the things you can create in virtual reality environments. And so that got us exploring, and we built a really cool engine, we knew it was important for us to design our product in ways that would make you want to do it. Again, VR is really cool. But we could see very easily that people would go into it and go, Oh, my gosh, this is amazing. And then, you know, a month later than devices in the closet. So that was really important for us. And we spent a lot of time and effort building these procedural environments that could ultimately adapt to the individual and maybe even in the future, different bio signals that we could receive from, you know, pupil measurement, et cetera. And I don’t think a lot of people were thinking about it in the way that we did. technol gli this was four years ago when we started building the platform. And today, you know, we’ve generated, I think we’re very close to having 3 million sessions. In VR, primarily, we just launched our first wave of augmented reality experiences on one of the very first commercially viable, smart glasses to hit the market, we just announced last week being a launch partner on these new devices from HTC that are shipping in November, that really feel like sunglasses going on your head, it’s the first device that’s not feeling like a big heavy helmet that you immerse yourself into. And so I really do believe Bruce, that technology is really on this shift of moving computing from the hand to the head. And I’m seeing a lot of similarities to those early days when we were developing content for the very first wave of smartphone enabled devices made way before the iPhone, a lot of handsets hitting the market that you could connect to the internet with and play games. And so you know, it’s exciting from a technology and innovation standpoint. And then when you combine that with what we can start to do with clinical research, measurement, and working directly with the psychedelic clinical applications that are going through approval and thinking about, from a commercial standpoint, how technology can support those efforts and ways something that we’re exploring now as a company.
Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting, because I mean, it seems like there’s different modes here, there’s kind of a virtual reality, you know, being kind of how do I sort of recreate how we normally kind of move through space and time, and in a computer simulated environment versus alternate reality, which is, you know, the idea that I can see my breath and crystals, like, how can I create new forms of reality, or differentiated forms of reality that now kind of provide kind of opportunities for awareness or therapeutic value? Yeah, you know, and then, and then kind of augmented reality, which is kind of the, I kind of have my normal world, but I have layers of information and our experiences kind of put on top of it. Where do you see the future of this? Or what, which ones are you playing with? And why, like, how do you see this playing,
we’re playing with all of them. I mean, in many ways, you could just think of it less about the different devices and what they facilitate, I think that is a temporary condition, in much the same way that when I was younger, I had a Nintendo Gameboy Canon camera, a Sony Walkman, you know, a Nokia phone. And it all came together with the arrival of the iPhone, our industry hasn’t had its iPhone moment, but trip is really architecting for that future when it shows up. And so we think of it as reality layering, and you can go all the way to full immersion into an alternate reality. You know, right now you do it through using trip on a VR device. But the way we’d like to think about it is how do we support you based on the different modes that you need. So you may start your day with a full immersion into trip to get your mind present and focus before you even do your meditation practice. And then our mobile app could help you through that meditation with spatial audio that is, you know, different sound frequencies that support you learning how to sit present with yourself without the assist of being in an alternate environment. And then perhaps throughout the day, if you have smart glasses on your face, the device could detect maybe different stress responses from pupil measurement, and give you a quick breathing exercise prompt, that’s an overlay, while you’re, you know, still engaged with what’s happening around you, or, you know, audio while you’re multitasking that help you stay focused. So this is the future that we’ve actually architected for, and are already starting to deploy. We’re looking also we’re going to make a big announcement coming soon, which probably by the time this airs will already be announced in the area of how to use augmented reality to show you kind of a deeper connection to the world around you. So if you think of the immersion of VR as a way to connect to self and transform the way that you see yourself in the world, and then we would expand augmented reality interfaces to show how the world is transformed around you, and how to feel connected to something bigger than just you alone, a global wellness community and we have some very exciting concepts of how to create that.
I’m curious if you see this as you’re developing technology to enhance augments add to a psychedelic experience. Is this an alternate way to get to a psychedelic like experience? Or the like how? I mean, I guess how much do you feel I could imagine technology that could on its own produce this kind of bigger picture awareness perspective, the world things like that, like, What’s your connection with the psychedelics? Or how do you see your connection with psychedelics?
Yeah, there’s a few very interesting things that have happened since we started our company. So very early on, measurement was important. To me specifically, I wanted to, at minimum, make sure we weren’t doing anything harmful that we were releasing out into the world. So I went to Stanford and I met with Walter Greenleaf, who’s a neuroscientist who’s been working in using VR to address different health conditions, mental and physical for many years. And I said, Help me, help me do this. Right. And, and he was so excited, because he said, very few entrepreneurs will approach them before they’ve actually built the product to help be more data driven. And as a result of Walters guidance, you know, we have had trip in many clinical trials that are up and running, moving into phase two. And they coincidentally are hitting a lot of the same areas that you’ll see psychedelic research focused on addiction recovery, which obviously have a personal stake in and end of life support, especially quality of life. In late stage cancer patients. We’re working with the severely mentally ill with the Nathan s. Kline Institute on a very interesting study, funded by the New York office of mental health. And I know maps is working with the same population. And so there’s a lot of corollary research paths that you can see, can you use these altered alternative realities to help someone kind of hack the way that they’re currently feeling or shift their perspective? Obviously, it’s not, we’re not trying to simulate a drug trip, as it were. Because you’re it’s its own thing. You’re fully conscious during that time, but what interested us and thinking about So our main focus just to close the loop on that was really how we could use technology to hack consciousness, right. And what we found though, was once we got our product live with the consumer audience, we started to get a lot of inbound communication from ketamine clinic directors that were using our product out hock in their clinics to support their patients with precession anxiety reduction, some were even using it during the ketamine session, putting the patient in VR and casting the experience on the screen. So they could guide is super interesting, but not grounded, we had zero participation in any of this. And what I you know, one I, obviously, I had some initial concerns of, you know, while we need to understand what what kind of impact this combination would have. And so we started talking to the clinics about, you know, potentially doing some research so we could see the impact of, you know, if we can reduce anxiety before a session using our application before a treatment, a psychedelic assisted therapy session, how do we measure whether that helped the patient, you know, be more receptive to what was happening in the experience in a positive way or not if it had any effect. So those conversations are underway now. And it inspired us to acquire a company called sai assist small team. They were developing a protocol that’s run by a wonderful creator who we’ve worked with David Starfire, who is a wonderful musical artists and you know, they were using sound to support the patient as well as some guided meditation support created by a therapist named Sonny Strasberg, who’s now our Clinical Director of Operations and she, we’re developing that protocol in mobile, as well. It’ll be part of our mobile app that patients can be supported. Especially those patients who might be going to a clinic where there’s not a lot of support during the session where they’re in an infusion chair, or they might be doing in home therapy, you know, can we help create content that will help them with setting setting beforehand. And then we are working on a clinical application of our VR product that will initially be focused focused on precession anxiety reduction, you could think of the combination of that with the mobile app, the mobile app, also supporting some onboarding and preparation before your first treatment, and then support throughout the subsequent treatments, which usually are about three sessions. And how do we also help the patient with ongoing integration in support is something worth exploring, and also how to help someone regulate through discomfort is something that we’re exploring as well. So they feel more empowered? Yeah.
And what do you see, I guess, do you see the future or what you want to focus on as being helping folks that have, you know, illness of some sorts, you know, struggling with addiction and things like that, or helping but sort of general performance? You know, people that are highly functional are looking for greater levels of performance or awareness or insight? Or where I guess where do you see your future focus, we look at it as phased in much the same way that you know, headspace now is working with ginger on clinical applications. It’s an organic evolution, it we’ve seen clinical adoption of our consumer product, in a similar vein already, and we’re much younger company in our cycle. But if you look at it from the sense that the wellness application with 3 million Sessions has provided so much learning and insight, with a very active user base that’s constantly telling us what’s working and not working, that as we evolve into clinical applications, we can apply those learnings firsthand in real time to how we design more targeted protocols. And because of the procedural nature of our platform, it allows us to target content, ultimately down to an individual, but certainly to different cohorts. We received a grant from the NIH to participate in research around addiction recovery. And part of that grant funding is also to support targeting of content to different cohorts based on your drug of choice. You know, stimulant addicts, in early recovery have a very different mindset than an opioid addict. Why would we treat them with the same application? And so, so it’s interesting for us we see one kind of leveraging the other as a small team focusing on consumer and getting that right while we dual track, participation in clinical efforts on the research side to give us substantive data has been something that we’ve been able to navigate successfully as a team today, right now we’re at 18 people, as a company and looking to double over the next year, but the longer term vision of the company when you think about return on investment, etc. I think being able to go through regulatory path on more targeted interventions to support mental health issues will probably be the biggest return on investment for our investors.
Yeah, it’s excellent. And if people want to find out more about you about the work that you’re doing the trip, what’s the best way to get that information?
you can reach out to me at Neha and a ne a on Twitter, my DMs are open, and trip.com. We’re up and running with website there and you can reach out to us through our website, we do respond to all inbound communication. And if you want to check out our consumer application, you can find us on Oculus and PlayStation stores as well as any of the new merging headsets coming out the HTC Vive flow is that very cool sunglass, immersive glasses type of device that Tripp is available on. And yeah, we’re excited to hear from you. And also if you’re interested in participating in psychedelic clinical research, using trip as a tool to help support the patient through that we would love to hear from you. We work very actively with clinicians now and are in the process of collecting data.
Excellent, man. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time today.
You’re welcome, Bruce. Thank you. It’s great to connect with you.
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