Distill Ventures launches accelerator programme to increase diversity

Distill Ventures has committed to increasing diversity within the drinks industry through the launch of a new pre-accelerator programme dedicated to early stage founders from underrepresented groups.

DV, the investments arm of Diageo, will aim to invest $5m in drinks entrepreneurs over the next 12 months through this initiative.

Access to capital is a crucial requirement for early-stage companies. However, racial and gender wealth disparities can mean founders from underrepresented groups have less access to capital.

“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 its search pipeline, initially focusing on the US and UK.

Interested entrepreneurs will be helped to develop a six-month business plan to present to DV and Diageo and successful applicants will be awarded initial funding, typically between $250,000 and $500,000.

After this the founders will be guided through a broader pitch process, with the potential to create a longer-term partnership with DV and Diageo to grow their business.