Payton Nyquvest, CEO and founder of Numinus tells us about assisted psychotherapy.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Payton Nyquvest: Thanks for asking! I’m happy to say we’re healthy and happy, with a 6-month-old at home. Like most families with small children, we’ve had to get creative to balance childcare and work. Time in nature has been very helpful for resets while staying connected to friends and family virtually. Overall, I’m thankful for the time this has given me with my family, although, like everyone, I look forward to putting COVID-19 behind us.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Numinus.
Payton Nyquvest: Numinus was born out of personal necessity for me. I witnessed addiction in early childhood, which had an impact on my teenage years. At 19, I had a mental “a-ha” moment which made me turn to my own mental health and explore available conventional treatments. Unfortunately, I still had other chronic health issues that steadily worsened. By 30, I was constantly in the hospital, and conventional treatments weren’t working. Ultimately, I decided to turn to psychedelics. I’d done the research and knew psychedelic therapies were available in other parts of the world.
By accessing those, I finally found relief from my pain. When I got back, I knew I had to find a way to make these accessible to others. My health problems weren’t unique, and I knew others could benefit. So, in 2018, I began to explore the existing research, strike up conversations and started Numinus with my co-founder, Stacey, who shares my commitment to mental health and improving the lives of others.
How does Numinus innovate?
Payton Nyquvest: We have a very experienced team of leaders and researchers and are advised by exceptional clinical and general advisors who are widely recognized for their contributions to their respective fields, including medicine, ethnopharmacology, and mental health advocacy. With this team, we’ve accomplished multiple firsts in the psychedelics space, from proprietary product research to clinical trials.
We innovate by having the right team in place, centered around the right values and purpose. We are all deeply committed to our mission of developing and delivering psychedelic therapies to help people heal and be well, with the goal of delivering the best patient outcomes. With all eyes on that, we’ve moved quickly over the last two years to develop our business model and strategy, expand our capabilities, establish partnerships, raise capital and identify further growth opportunities to ensure we continue to deepen our moat and stay at the forefront of the industry.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Payton Nyquvest: Overall, Numinus was able to successfully transition very early in the pandemic. Those who could, have worked from home, which has been quite a simple adaptation as we were already mostly digital. We do have essential services in our lab and clinics. Those parts of the company were able to implement COVID-19 protocols and resume business without too much interruption.
Of course, looking at the big picture, COVID-19 has put immense stress on communities and healthcare resources. This really highlights, more than anything, that we need to make systemic changes so that people are not struggling so much – both mentally and physically – in the middle of a crisis like this pandemic. At Numinus, that has given us more certainty than ever that we are on the right path to building new solutions for mental health.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Payton Nyquvest: The overall lesson for us has been to embrace uncertainty and rally around our people. At the end of the day, our team is what has been getting us through thick and thin – from the early days of lockdown to new COVID-19 protocols, to temporary business interruptions and our WFH transition, and enduring endless virtual meetings.
Everyone has different needs. Even the use of new tech tools can be frustrating, depending on learning thresholds. We all try to take time to check in on each other outside of our own teams, especially on the topic of mental health, which is something we hold especially dear because we have people spread over multiple locations. We also have some internal practices for mental wellness, such as a group mindfulness exercise developed by our medical director, which our teams use before meetings. We really value that culture of care and mindfulness to ensure everyone feels aligned to our values – pandemic or not. We’re a family. Communication, compassion, and connection are key to us maintaining that closeness.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Payton Nyquvest: Collaboration, conferencing, and social tools have been invaluable for us, as they have for most companies – Google Workspace, Slack, and Asana are just a few.
Management-led practices have also been very helpful for enhancing our team communication and collaborativeness, from the mindfulness exercise I mentioned to another one that helps team members open up about their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. These are simple but powerful tools to help us remember our purpose.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Payton Nyquvest: I like to think we’re in an industry of collaboration and healthy competition. There are a lot of other companies out there doing great work that is raising the bar, just as we are at Numinus. As I said, we have our end goal, and we’re laser-focused on reaching it. Getting there means encouraging collaboration and innovation within my team, being smart with industry collaboration and partnerships, and keeping a close eye on market opportunities for growth.
Your final thoughts?
Payton Nyquvest: At the end of the day, we have a lot of people to help, and we’re only just getting started. Current health care is evidently failing, with epidemic rates of mental illness and addiction that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. We urgently need solutions, and psychedelics are the next evolution of mental health care. At Numinus, our strategy is to create those solutions in a thoughtful and scalable way that’s focused on delivering the best outcomes to help as many people as possible.