Diageo-Funded Distill Ventures Earmarks $5 Million To Back Diverse Producers

Distill Ventures has announced a slate of new global initiatives aimed at normalizing diversity within the drinks industry. The flagship initiative is a robust pre-accelerator program for spirits industry founders from underrepresented groups.

Distill Ventures (DV) will invest $5 million in these initiatives over the next 12 months.

The pre-accelerator will serve as a runway for early-stage entrepreneurs to access seed funding. This is a key barrier for minority-owned spirits companies — overcoming the cost of entry and gaining access to capital.

Since 2015, just 2.4% of venture capital financing across all sectors in the United States has gone to Black and Latinx founders, according to the 2020 Crunchbase Diversity Spotlight Report. Further data from the report shows that the proportion of global venture funding to female-only founders was just 2.3% in 2020, a decline from 2019.

“What’s particularly exciting about this pre-accelerator is that we’re able to work with a dynamic group of founders, and their drinks, much earlier in their brand-building process,” describes Heidi Dillon Otto, Distill Ventures North America’s managing director. “That means we can connect with founders whose product is nearly final or brand new-to-market — across all segments of spirits and non-alcoholic spirits.”

Distill Ventures is an independent accelerator for new drinks brands. To date, DV has funneled and formed over $120 million into 15+ drink brands, including major spirits industry disruptors, including Seedlip, Westward, Starward and Ritual Zero Proof.

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