An Interview With Jeremy Gardner - Psychedelic Investor and Ibogaine Enthusiast, Crypto Entrepreneur

Published on:
April 13, 2023
Jeremy Gardner
Jeremy Gardner

Jeremy Gardner credits much of his success through his healing with psychedelics over the years. Jeremy is a managing partner of Mystic Ventures (focused on investments in psychedelic medicines) and is one of the most well-known early entrepreneurs and evangelists in the crypto space becoming a young multimillionaire.

In 2014, while in college, he founded the Blockchain Education Network (BEN), a global educational nonprofit. Shortly after, Jeremy cofounded Augur, a decentralized prediction market platform, the first ever Ethereum ICO, “utility token,” and DeFi app. He then worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence and investor at Blockchain Capital, investing in some of the industry’s biggest companies and creating the first tokenized security, BCAP. He also served as the founding editor-in-chief of Distributed magazine. In 2018, Gardner co founded Ausum Ventures, a hybrid venture-hedge fund focused on the intersection of blockchain technology, cryptoassets, and social impact.  He is an early investor in over 100 startups as an angel and VC, He most recently founded MadeMan, a men’s skincare startup, and is the managing partner of Mystic Ventures, a venture fund focused on psychedelic medicine.

Jeremy is also an investor in Beond. This interview was conducted with Jeremy in September 2022.

Beond: Jeremy, as part of your life’s work and journey, your early involvement in cryptocurrency investing and as a founder  has been influenced by your use of psychedelics for healing. Can you tell us why you think many people interested in psychedelics are also involved in the world of cryptocurrencies?

Jeremy: The kind of people that get involved with crypto and their interests in general want to also be involved in the psychedelic revolution, not just as investors or entrepreneurs, but for healing also. There is such an obvious parallel between crypto and psychedelics.

These are cutting edge, novel kinds of gray area industries where it requires an expanded consciousness and vision to see the opportunity to benefit from them. In many ways they are quite similar because of the gray area and because they're both forward thinking worlds. There is also a certain level of risk involved in both. The mainstream hasn't fully accepted either, and so it takes a certain personality type to be willing to really do the research, weigh the territory and then take the plunge.

There are all these people that say to me, “I wish I had heard of Bitcoin at $10,” and the funny thing is that those people may very well have heard of Bitcoin at $10 but they weren't going to buy in. It is the same thing with psychedelics, it is one of those things where you really have to believe in it. You may have heard of psilocybin, ibogaine, or MDMA assisted therapy but it doesnt mean you are going to use it as a tool for transformation.

For you to take the plunge and commit to it, you have to really want it. You know, no one's going to cheerlead you all the way in. You have to make that decision for yourself. And therefore, the sorts of people that may, you know, wade into this are typically free thinkers and ahead of the times. There is a large venn diagram of those who will wade into the other direction.

Beond: What do you think needs to be true for more and more people to use psychedelic assisted therapy as a tool for transformation and then advocate for it? Is it science? Is it just because more of their friends are doing it? It reminds me of that YouTube video on leaders and early adopters dancing which shows there's usually the first person, then there's the second person who believes and wants to be a part before a few more join but by the end of the video it turns into a whole societal dance.

Jeremy: Right. So there's actually a good sociological study or argument on how it's not about the first person dancing. There's always going to be one person in society or one person in a group that is going to be the crazy outlier. You know what matters in the video? It is that one person's dancing like crazy for a while, so only when the second person gets inspired and joins that, then everybody else starts joining. The second person who joined is actually key.

So, yeah, we're kind of at that point where we're going from that one person to another and eventually many. I was often that one person that was either doing crypto or dancing on my own but that's not the person that matters. It's the second person that goes and provides that validation. Science is great and it encourages the second or third person to start dancing.

It is also about the acceptability of joining the dance party. Once you know two people that are vouching for it,  maybe the first person looks crazy, but the second person doesn’t, then you're like, okay, I can go do this as well. So it's really about seeing multiple perspectives that validate what was at one time an outlier's behavior.

Beond: That makes sense. Can you talk a little bit about your own psychedelic healing experiences and how they have inspired you as a crypto entrepreneur and investor?

Jeremy: My psychedelic healing experiences started almost a decade before my crypto journey.

At 14 years of age I had been battling severe depression. I had a lot of anger issues and felt suicidal. Looking back, I think it was my brain chemistry going through adolescence. I was prescribed nearly a half dozen psychiatric drugs. I was also experimenting with substances. I was smoking cigarettes and I was smoking cannabis.

I think by the time I was 15 I had done heroin, that’s how dark it got. Shortly after that, I had 3.5 grams of mushrooms not really knowing what to expect and it just radically changed the course of my life. I never had suicidal ideation again. A year later I took a therapeutic dose of 3.5 grams of mushrooms once more and I was able to get off all the psychiatric drugs I was on. I have not had a depressive episode in 15 years.

So long before this psychedelic renaissance, I knew that there was an incredible potential in psychedelics. I’ve since had psychedelic healing experiences with most mainstream and well known leaders in the space. I attribute those experiences and the person I have become as a result of those experiences to virtually all of the success that I have had and where I am in my life, to my happiness, to being the person I want to be.

None of my success would've been possible without my psychedelic healing experiences. I wouldn't be any nearer or nearly as close to being the best version of myself. I don't know if I'd be alive. For example, one of my high school administrators said when I was like 13 or 14 if I were alive at 30, I should be in jail or addicted to drugs.

Psychedelics provided an alternative path. They've ensured that I dont take the path of least resistance. I do what is difficult or perhaps not understood by others because I know what feels right. They have reaffirmed my true north throughout my life and constantly have pushed me in the right direction.

Beond: That's incredible. So not only has psychedelics helped your adolescent depression and you haven’t experienced it since then, they have also helped you with your potential in becoming who you truly are, being more empowered and connecting you to your true north.

Jeremy: Yes, I will say that when I feel myself sliding, which has happened at a few points in my life, what I do is rather than allow myself to go into that hole, I sit down and do very intentional psychedelic medicine work. The psychedelic varies depending on what's calling to me and based on my knowledge of what different medicines can offer me. Immediately, I'm brought out of that funk that I'm in and enabled to realign my objective so I don't fall deeper down that hole.

Beond: Yes, so in your experience psychedelic assisted therapy is also preventative medicine, and that's where Beond hopes Western medicine is heading instead of mostly treating symptoms.

Jeremy: Yes, so instead of just treating a problem once it arises, you may prematurely sense something is arising or not right. This is a very proactive psychedelic medicine approach and through it you can identify the source of your problems and redirect your thinking and energy in a way that's constructive.

Beond: Can you please talk a little bit about your iboga or your ibogaine experience? I believe you worked with Iboga, right?

Jeremy: I have experienced a traditional iboga ceremony, prepping for several weeks before. I went partly as a psychonaut, which they recommend not to do with iboga. I also went because I knew I had bad inclinations and habits. Not horrible addictions but really bad habits. I wanted to see what iboga could do for me. I now understand why they don't recommend it for someone that is coming as a psychonaut because iboga kicked my ass.

As someone that has lost a lot of friends to opiates, I wanted to understand, could this truly be something close to a silver bullet for those suffering from opiate addiction? And so I wanted to get the worst experience. And you know, when you ask these medicines to kick your ass, they do.

And it was awful. I mean, I would not recommend iboga to someone that's just interested in what it's like because it is going to give you a very hard time. It’s different for everyone but for me it was not a deeply psychedelic experience. It was very physical and very physically unpleasant. I did experience a lot of auditory and visual hallucinations but I didn't feel like I was actually tripping during the experience.

It was a very disconcerting experience to say the least. I still kind of gag when I think about eating that bark, and I'm so glad there's ways to connect with iboga, in the form of ibogaine, that don't require you to ingest a bunch of root bark. I did it one night, an eight hour ceremony, then kind of suffered for the next 12 hours after that and then took the next night off. Then the following night I did a second ceremony, same thing. Eight hours of misery kind of felt like shit after, not as bad the second time. I thought to myself the entire time, “why the hell am I doing this?”

But then afterwards I realized I had no desire for any of my bad inclinations, whether it was eating poorly, whether it was nicotine, ketamine, corn, everything I knew I was doing that was not good for me.

The desire to do those things went away, it was truly remarkable and I genuinely believe it is one of the most powerful treatments for treating addiction and horrible or bad, unhealthy habits.

What I didn't do right was I didn't do any sort of integration work. So after that second ceremony, I just went back to my life and as someone that doesn't have the best self control, I didn't create the framework for myself, or the integration for myself that would have enabled me to carry on the positive benefits of the experience.

It would take another year before I really got to where I wanted health wise and to develop good habits. Ibogaine or iboga is not a silver bullet. It gives you the tools and awareness to achieve what you want but they are not the tools in and of themselves. It comes down to the person's willingness to do the work to change afterwards.

Beond: So if you're not willing to do the work afterwards, you're not going to get the most out of the experience.

Jeremy: Yes, Ibogaine or iboga can get rid of that withdrawal, get rid of that temptation for a period of time. But then you need to develop healthy habits afterwards on a daily basis to keep those temptations at bay.

Beond: Yes, that's what we tell our clients too and that's why we stress the importance of preparation and integration work with ibogaine at Beond. What is ibogaine integration? It’s taking the insights and realizations you had and continue to have afterward while honing the ability to practically apply them to your life in the form of daily actions. For example, each Beond client works with their onsite therapist to make sense of their history, goals and ibogaine insights. They work on a customized, written aftercare plan with their therapist onsite after their ibogaine treatment. We offer integration coaching for when they go home as well as online group therapy and mindfulness tools. Some people really want to do everything they can and others aren’t as willing. We tell them if they go back to the same home environment, with the same friendships and daily habits, they will most likely fall right back into it. You actually have to be committed to changing your lifestyle, changing your surroundings so you don't fall back into your old habits.

Jeremy: That’s right because habits and dependencies are complex. Even if you don’t have the psychological or physical urge that existed before, if you put yourself in an environment where all your bad habits are readily available, you are likely going to fall back into.

Beond: Yes, exactly, that's right. The other thing you said that was interesting is about how some people come to iboga or ibogaine as a psychonaut, they don't have a dependency issue and their intention is not to heal trauma or any emotional issue. They come because they are curious or want to achieve the biohacking aspects.  In general, with various groups of people whether chemical dependency, trauma, mood clients or psychonauts who are just purely curious, they think that they're going to get one type of an experience. Having set expectations is never good with ibogaine. Our therapists at Beond try to work with that during the preparation stage. Many do and some don't get what they want vision wise, but we remind them that the ibogaine journey itself is just the beginning of the journey because it's in your system for up to 90 days afterwards. There's so much more than the actual initial visionary stage. Depending on what you choose to do after, you're able to have a 60 or a 90 day experience where you can feel more clarity, more joy, more focus and if you can change your lifestyle, thinking and habits the impact can last for many years. This is why it’s often referred to as a reset. The insights and shift in thinking needs to be followed up with conscious integration tools and new behaviors.

Jeremy: Yes, I’d say, you have to come with an intention of what you want to change. Use it as kind of a reset for your body and your mind in a way that will enable you to follow through on that change. I wish everyone who comes through Beond the best with their experience and transformation.

Beond: Thank you for your time and for sharing with us, Jeremy.

Learn more about Jeremy's work in Forbes here and his psychedelic investment fund, Mystic Ventures, here