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Product | People | Potential – our chat with Hive

We caught up Alex Latyshev, Co-Founder and CEO at HIVE, a global network of next generation mental health centres specialising in psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.

The purpose of article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with great potential, truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real-talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.

Jazz @ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself? What your HIVE does, what stage you are at currently and what makes your business and offering unique?

Alex Latyshev: Hello! My name is Alex, I am originally from Moscow, Russia, now based in London and Malta. I am the Co-Founder and CEO at HIVE. Me and other co-founders decided to set up HIVE to fulfil an unmet clinical need in mental health.

North America has a lot of clinic options offering ketamine and psychiatric clinics, for patients with mental health treatment needs. We identified that in Europe people are suffering from mental health problems without these same support clinics available to them. So, we set up HIVE as a benchmark for the region.

HIVE is a premium, state of the art chain of mental health and anti-addiction clinics using psychedelic assisted therapy. We have developed three main concepts: firstly, HIVE Retreat, prolonged residential stays; secondly, HIVE Urban, centres focused on preventative mental health solutions in cosmopolitan cities; thirdly, HIVE Check-In, small clinics for consultations and testing. The smaller clinics will be available in areas where the therapies we would like to provide aren’t yet legal. For example, in Asia, mental health is still massively stigmatised, so here we’ll just provide talking therapy, as psychedelic-assisted or ketamine therapy wouldn’t be allowed.

We believe that only a holistic approach is conducive to treating mental health disorders. Mental health is founded on cognitive, psychological and biological mechanisms, therefore requiring a careful and personalised approach when treated.

Here, at HIVE, we bring together expert, multidisciplinary teams that include physicians, psychiatrists, geneticists, psychologists and nutritionists. We call our approach ‘The Hive Method’.

Jazz @ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the origin of your business and service?

Alex Latyshev: My personal story and involvement in mental health are that my cousin has some issues with his mental health, so I’ve been interested in how to treat and manage mental health disorders. He went through a long psychotherapy process, which didn’t work for him, but he found alternative methods via psychedelics which benefited him massively and helped him overcome a lot of his mental health problems. I witnessed the change in my cousin following psychedelic usage and I wanted to make that accessible to more people. I met my co-founder and CSO Natalia Vorobyeva, and from there we teamed up to launch this initiative.

Jazz @ADLIB: Starting with people, can you share some challenges you have faced, are facing or are anticipating around scaling and growing your team? Do you have any top tips you could share with those businesses faced with the same issues?

Alex Latyshev: Hiring is one of the most important things in the business, the team builds the business and represents the core foundations. Our HIVE Hub, or global team, consists of the co-founders and the medical director, five core people in total. We all work in partnership, there is no hierarchy, which works well.

Each HIVE Clinic is a medical team, managed by a medical director. Our approach is to find the best people for the medical director position, a very talented, very charismatic, very professional medical director who will curate a successful system around them. The rest of the team will gather around the medical director who will be responsible for the clinic. This approach has worked well so far in HIVE Portugal, HIVE Malta and HIVE London so we’ll continue to focus on the medical director position for future scale-ups.

Jazz @ADLIB: Moving to product, what has been your approach to understanding and implementing product-market fit or sales cycles?

Alex Latyshev: The number of people on SSRIs and antidepressants is huge, and thirty to fifty per cent of these patients aren’t gaining benefit from these medications, so there’s a huge unmet patient need. In every location we’re working in there’re differences in regulations and legal framework, so in different locations we work with different psychedelics. In Malta, we offer Ibogaine treatment for addiction, in Portugal we work with Ketamine for anxiety and depression, and London will be offering Ketamine treatment. Australia, we anticipate, will offer MDMA for PTSD and Psilocybin for depression. But these structures and treatments will alter as local laws and regulations change over time.

Jazz @ADLIB: And then potential, can you share some challenges or barriers you had to overcome to create a service offering with potential?

Alex Latyshev: The biggest barrier in psychedelics is in legal frameworks. It’s very difficult to navigate these frameworks without knowledge of the healthcare structures, which makes global scaling difficult. Additionally, psychedelics are banned in most countries, which proves to be a big barrier for us. For example, Ibogaine is only legal in Europe in Portugal and Malta. However, we anticipate that this barrier will be lessened in the future as more psychedelic medications are legalised.

The second challenge worth discussing is people. Finding the right people with the right skill sets takes time and effort, then that needs replicating during scale-ups. We are currently still a small, efficient team but in the future we anticipate that this will become more of a challenge.

Jazz @ADLIB: Investment can often be a challenge for start-ups & scale-ups. Do you have any piece of wisdom you could share around the best approach?

Alex Latyshev: I believe that we’ve been quite lucky at HIVE because we’ve found not only an investor but a great partner with The Conscious Fund. We met at a MicroDose conference in April 2020, and they’re one of the biggest global players in medical psychedelics right now, so I’m very proud that we have this great partner. We have other prominent psychedelics investors, but it all started with The Conscious Fund.

My best advice would be to try to find professional investors and build relationships, not just emails, start a two-sided conversation where you ask questions and ask for feedback. Secondly, try and differentiate yourself from the rest of the market, show the potential investors why you’re different. And finally, build your network, for long term gain. But gaining investment does require just a little bit of luck too!