It was around this time that Leary's investors began to pound the table for an Exit.
By now they had invested over $30 million in Gaia. Leary's dream had turned into a national company, providing thousands of customers with psychedelic treatment every year. Leary had proved savvy and resilient. But the market was changing so quickly, with consolidation, innovation and further capitalization. It seemed to her investors too dangerous to wait much longer.
Deep down Leary always knew this day would come. Somehow, in the marathon of sprinting, she had been able to deny that it would happen. From the beginning of her journey she had leaned on investor capital. She had no other choice. It was the energy that had powered her craft, propelling her forward to national prominence, creating a mental health startup of international repute. Investors need a return. At this scale there were only two was that would happen: sell to a bigger corporation or go public through an IPO.
The one thing she knew was that she would not sell to a global pharmaceutical company. There was no way. Big Pharma, perpetrators of the opioid epidemic, insulin extortionists, misinformation propagandists, drivers of the prescription drug crisis - the corporations who wanted people to be sick and in treatment, monetizing the prolongment of their lives versus curing them and losing a stream of revenue. Gaia Health was the work of her life. It would not end up in the clutches of Big Pharma.
By now Leary had been in this fight for six years; the battle to build the world she dreamed of as a kid. She had joined a renaissance. It had become an industrial revolution - a revolution in the business of mental health. Gaia had been there all along, riding the wave from abstract idea to global industry -
the psychedelic industry. As she faced her investors Leary was filled with mounting dread.
She took a deep breath. She looked at each investor in turn. As calmly as she could manage, she told them "no".