Distill Ventures Announces Funding for Five Startups

Distill Ventures, an independent drinks accelerator devoted to building and scaling the drink brands of the future, has announced the latest brands to join its award-winning Pre-Accelerator program.

Starting in May, the successful startups joining the cohort will receive investment of up to $500,000 as well as nine to 12 months of bespoke acceleration and support. As the brands work their way through the Pre-Accelerator, they will be supported by DV on all aspects of building their brand, from compelling storytelling to testing and learning to improve their product. Support will also include drawing on DV’s wider network to learn from and help to enhance their brand, and following graduation brands are then able to seek further funding from Diageo or other investment sources. 

The five brands that make up the Spring Cohort are:

  • CASA J: This female & Mexican owned luxury tequila blanco, is crafted to honour the artisanal independent spirits who bring our culture forward. Founder, Sofia Paloma Juarez, aims to modernise the tradition of tequila, creating a contemporary feminine perspective committed to excellence in quality & craft while empowering our artisan communities in Jalisco.
  • Lodestar: A pre-launch American Whiskey, Lodestar is founded by cousins and entertainment industry veterans Anna Axster and Wendelin von Schroder, who want to welcome more women into the category through their story, community focused lifestyle, and the approachable flavour of the product. The Lodestar team looks forward to creating a community that reflects its core values of inclusivity, connection, and joy.
  • Pimentae: This London-based, female-founded, premium tequila cocktail brand is founded by Alice Parmiter and Wynter Karo.  The team are crafting bar quality cocktails, which celebrate the beauty and complexity of tequila. Wrapped in bespoke artwork, their bottles tell the story of the brand, its Mexican heritage, and the ingredients within.
  • Tanica: A woman-owned Australian brand, Tanica is short for botanical, named for the ingredients the team blend with lower alcohol to create their flavoured spirits. Co-founders, Adriane McDermott and Kate Napier, decided they wanted to create a better way to drink through mixing native Australian botanicals with one-quarter the alcohol to replicate their favourite cocktails.
  • Idle Hands: A pre-launch, super-premium, Black-owned flavoured tequila has a mission of opening the door to a new generation of tequila drinkers through new flavours. London-based Idle Hands is fuelled by the spirit of creativity and innovation as well as by the under-represented counter-culture influences that its founder, Asher Flowers, grew up inspired by.

Ara Carvallo, Portfolio and I&D Director, Distill Ventures, said: “We’ve learned a lot from our first 18 months of running the program – and moving to a cohort system illustrates DV acting on some of those learnings. We believe it is the best method for us to offer bespoke, hands-on guidance, along with funding at all stages of growth, while ensuring that the founders lead their brands through the journey with the support of the other founders in our Spring Cohort.

“We are always looking for ambitious, innovative founders who have a quality liquid product and hold a clear vision for their brands, and we are incredibly excited to be working with these five brands.”

In its first year, DV invested almost $5 million (£4.1 million) in entrepreneurs from under-represented communities as part of the Pre-Accelerator and committed to investing the same amount in 2022. Since launching in 2021, DV has received over 400 applications for its Pre-Accelerator and has supported brands across the USA and Rest of World through the programme, including VERVET, Atōst, Vascano Tequila, Kromanti and Lot42.

Impressively, the Rest of World brands that DV has supported through the Pre-Accelerator have so far won a combined total of 10 category medals at the Spirits Business Masters and World Rum Awards.

Kamuti Kiteme, Managing Director, Inclusive Investments, Distill Ventures, said: “The potential and possibilities of the Spring Cohort brands is something we are very excited about. We look forward to working with them, helping them to grow, and to achieve their vision.

“We are also excited for our next cohort and the application window for that cohort is open until the 30th of June. We would urge ambitious and passionate entrepreneurs from under-represented communities to apply.”

To learn more or apply, visit www.distillventures.com/pre-accelerator.

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