Interview with Craig Ellins, Chief Science Officer of Hypha Labs

A Cannabis Legend is Looking to Help Consumers Make Some Mushroom Magic in their Own Homes

Editor’s Note: Over the last decade following the rapid decriminalization of cannabis across America and with a multitude of studies confirming the benefits of psilocybin derived from psychedelic mushrooms and functional mushrooms the market is exploding. In 2022 alone, the U.S. market for functional and psychedelic mushrooms reached a valuation of USD $3.6 billion, with anticipated growth at a CAGR of 12.1% from 2023 to 2030. This upward trajectory aligns with the increasing momentum in the United States toward the decriminalization of not only psychedelic mushrooms, but the rapid growth and appreciation for the benefits of functional mushrooms.

Today, we bring you a brief Q&A with one of the true pioneers of the cannabis industry who is positioned in a new company called “Hypha Labs (DIGP)” to dramatically change how consumers obtain their psychedelics. It’s an incredible invention he’s working on, a device that allows people to grow mushrooms in their own homes.

Craig Ellins is a legend to many in the know, a unique mix of Mad Scientist, Ingenious Inventor, Entrepreneur…all mixed with a touch of bootlegger.  A veteran of seven decades, Ellins views the opportunity in front of him as both the Next Big Thing for people who see medicine in the magic mushroom and perhaps, his legacy.

Q: Why did you decide to enter into the psilocybin mushroom industry?

Craig Ellins: Because I’ve seen this act before. It’s a tremendous opportunity. I was on the front lines when cannabis went from highly illegal to a multi-billion dollar legal industry. It’s clear to me and other thought leaders in the industry that mushrooms are following in the footsteps of cannabis but with a faster trajectory due to far more bipartisan support and less stigmatization than cannabis by a huge factor. It’s been a decade since the cannabis laws began to fall and politicians realize that it’s been a win/win. Mushrooms are next and with the successes of cannabis to point to. We don’t have to show them the market. They can see it.

Psilocybin has shown incredible promise for mental health, often outperforming traditional treatments with just a single dose and the success of legal cannabis has really reduced biases for recreational and medical use of substances like psilocybin.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the bioreactor?

Ellins: I’m an inventor at heart and long before the legal cannabis revolution I had a company called Phototron, which sold a completely self-contained grow/cultivation device for those who wanted to grow cannabis at home safely and discreetly because there was no safe place to buy cannabis for most people. This helped people who wanted access to grow their own, avoid the often dangerous black market, and have medicine free of dangerous pesticides and other chemicals. The medical industry has long been using bioreactors, which are simply a fully self-contained and controlled environment to grow stem cells, algae, and other biologicals. 

It’s clear to me that the time is now to exploit this technology, to repeat what we did with the incredible success of Phototron, once again helping consumers to grow their own ingredients cheaply and easily in the safety of their home. 

Q: Why is your bioreactor so remarkable/groundbreaking?

Ellins: You have to first understand that the process of growing mushrooms has essentially been the same for over 100 years. Hypha Labs’ new technology allows people to grow mushrooms at home with the aid of our Artificial Intelligence (AI) controlled and cloud-based app, while simultaneously removing the need for expensive lab setups and specialized knowledge. Until now, the medical industry has been using very expensive bioreactors. We designed and built our patent-pending Discovery bioreactor to be affordable to everyone who is interested in psilocybin. Growing in our Discovery bioreactor is a novel method that is disruptive due to its simplicity and vastly reduced cost. Further, the mycelium grown in the bioreactor is more consistent and of higher potency than psilocybin produced in the conventional way from mushroom fruit bodies.

The process is truly remarkable and elegant. Our powerful home unit houses a petite bio-reactor that resembles a Lava Lamp and the growing spores, are nurtured until they grow to a harvestable size. In around seven days these little orbs that resemble boba are ready for consumption, each one a predictable potency. It’s a much different process than traditional methods where mushrooms are grown in animal feces and the potency is far from standardized.

Q: Can you tell us more about Hypha Labs and your long-term vision for the Discovery bioreactor?

Yes. We’re starting with the biggest demand, ‘Magic Mushrooms’, or psilocybin containing mushrooms. But the long term plan is to offer a wide variety of functional mushrooms that have been proven to improve mental and physical health for users. We’ll be employing the proven ‘razor/razor blade’ model for the Discovery bioreactor. In our model the Discovery bioreactor is the razor, and the monthly refills that allow our customers to grow several hundreds of dollars of psilocybin every eight days are the blade. 

I’m pleased that we have assembled a seasoned management team at Hypha Labs, proven leaders rich in experience, all of whom have a long history of successful exits. We have come together to create Hypha Labs and to offer ownership to anyone interested in our mission through the public company trading under the ticker “DIGP.”

Q: Do you need any kind of technical expertise or experience to operate the bioreactor?

Ellins: No technical expertise is needed. Our bioreactor is designed to be user-friendly, with our intelligent cloud-based app controlling all variables for end-to-end success! Simply install a fresh sterilized vessel, and in eight days, you have fresh psilocybin ready to use. Users can also customize their settings and share successful recipes with the community for improved results.

Q: What is your response to those who say a $300 bioreactor that grows psilocybin in 7 to 10 days sounds too good to be true?

Ellins: The technology might seem futuristic, but it’s grounded in rigorous science and engineering. We’ve leveraged decades of advancements in bioreactor technology to make it affordable and accessible. The results speak for themselves, providing consistent, high-quality psilocybin quickly and easily.

Q: Any plans for a commercial unit?

Ellins: Absolutely. We are pretty far into the design phase for a commercial unit already. We see lots of markets for a commercial grade bioreactor that can produce psilocybin at scale including the pharmaceutical industry and a wide variety of wellness verticals. I think there is tremendous potential to scale and that revenue pattern to our in-home offering.

Q: Why should investors be excited about Hypha Labs?

Ellins: Hypha Labs is uniquely positioned with a strong prospective patent portfolio and first-mover advantage in the market. I’m forecasting that with this team, the current legal environment, and the unprecedented expansion of interest and use of psilocybin, as well as the trend for people to use wellness strategies instead of reaching to big pharma for a pill to treat their symptoms instead of their illness, that Hypha Labs will grow exponentially in just the next few years. 

As the market evolves, our pioneering technology and comprehensive approach will secure our leadership position and history suggests that will be reflected in our share price and market cap as we perform and execute our business model.