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Distill Ventures Launches New Pre-Accelerator Program

Diageo-backed drinks investor Distill Ventures is launching a new Pre-Accelerator Programme, dedicated to early stage founders from underrepresented groups. DV will aim to invest $5mn in drinks entrepreneurs over the next 12 months through this initiative.

“In eight years, DV has built a portfolio of next generation brands, but it has become clear to us that we want to dedicate focus on diversifying the ownership of drinks brands by addressing a key barrier head on: access to seed funding,” said Frank Lampen, CEO, Distill Ventures. “We know that opportunities for entrepreneurs are not equally accessible to all, and so at the heart of our company-wide inclusion and diversity initiatives is the creation of a new Pre-Accelerator that will enable us to work with really early stage founders. This change cannot happen overnight, but we are excited to help evolve the drinks world, one founder at a time.”

DV will identify potential founders via their search pipeline, initially focusing on the United States and United Kingdom. In addition to the Pre-Accelerator, DV is expanding its own company-wide inclusion and diversity initiatives including a company-wide educational programme focused on unconscious bias and other key inclusion barriers, a broadened search process that goes beyond DV’s existing industry network and a recruitment partnership, first in the United States and then globally, with Wine & Spirits Recruitingm through which DV will reinforce its commitment to inclusive hiring practices for DV and its portfolio companies.

Heidi Dillon Otto, Managing Director, Distill Ventures North America, added, “Over the past six months, we’ve had numerous conversations with underrepresented founders – some of whom we’re already working with in our inaugural Pre-Accelerator class, and we look forward to continuing this work over the next 12 months and beyond. We recognise that diversity in ownership will fuel broader growth and innovation in our industry and will enable our portfolio to connect with a wider range of cultures and consumers. By bringing new, diverse founders into the world of drinks, we hope to create a ripple effect, in turn empowering them to mentor, hire, and train future drinks entrepreneurs.”

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