Join our pre‑accelerator

Designed specifically for early stage drinks businesses led by founders from underrepresented communities

who is the pre‑accelerator for?

If you’re the founder of an early-stage drinks businesses, our Pre‑Accelerator is designed to supercharge your business and prepare you for the next stage of investment at Distill Ventures. Diversity in the founding team and ownership structure is crucial, as is enthusiasm, ambition and vision.

We believe that ownership and representation within our industry needs to much better reflect the diversity of consumers in our industry.

Successful applicants will receive an initial investment of up to $500k/£350k and 6 months of bespoke acceleration support from Distill Ventures.

Criteria
for applicants

  • A passion for drinks
  • A founding team of people from underrepresented communities
  • A product that is either on sale, or ready to be commercialized and has pre-sales
  • An idea of who your customers are

Pre-accelerator overview

Through an extension to our accelerator model, we are introducing a “pre-accelerator.” We’ll focus on helping brands through the early stages of launch, learning as much as possible as quickly as possible. Our goal is to take these learnings and together build a stronger foundation for scaling your brand.

The Pre-Accelerator typically lasts about 6 months and offers your founding team investment of up to $500k along with tailored support needed to test, learn and develop a scale plan which can unlock more substantial equity investment.

Together we’ll build a mini plan with three priorities that’ll help you identify your target consumer and messaging, begin to test your commercial proposition, and evaluate your product market fit. The end result should be a clear vision on the path forward which sets you up for further investment to build a team and go to market.

The next steps

When we meet, we’ll ask you to share information about your brand, your vision and who you are as owners and founders. The questions are designed to give us insight into your thinking and your team. Don’t worry if you’ve only started selling to a few local places (or you’re just about to get started) — we’re most interested in learning about your vision and ambition and how you’re uniquely fit to deliver an amazing product to your consumers.

Once we’ve learned more about you and your brand, we determine if the best fit is to have you participate in our Pre-Accelerator or if your business is more developed and ready to ask for a more substantial equity raise immediately.

Meet our people

Ara Carvallo

Portfolio Director

Justin Lew

Consumer Marketing & Digital Director - North America

Vishal Patel

Investment Director - Rest of World

Heidi Dillion Otto

Managing Director - North America

Our Portfolio

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FAQ’s

How is this different to the current DV process of investment and acceleration?

The Pre-Accelerator is an extension of the DV program. We built it specifically to give smaller and still developing brands a smoother and faster runway into the program – a space where you can test and learn before setting hard commercial goals and ambitious growth plans for the future. It’s also where people who are new to the drinks industry can learn about crucial industry standards and practices, like the 3-tier system, distribution, and liquid R&D, without the pressure of annual sales targets.

What happens after the first 6 months?

During the six months, we’ll work together to support you in bringing that mini plan to life, working towards a mutually agreed series of goals around testing and learning. With the results of your six month plan, we’ll help you build your pitch to take to our Investment Board to secure a bigger equity investment and work with DV and Diageo as long-term partners.

How does the process for evaluating companies work?

The application questions on the website are designed to give us insight into your thinking while sparing you an exhaustive interview process. Once we’ve learned more about you and your brand, we determine if the best fit is to have you participate in our Pre-Accelerator or if your business is more developed and ready to ask for a more substantial equity raise immediately.

If you are selected to work with us through our Pre-Accelerator, our investment team has devised a simple SAFE structure – a Simple Agreement for Future Equity. The aim is to have a very simple, short agreement that can get done quickly.

Is Diageo involved in the day to day?

Depending on what you’re wanting to achieve during your 6 months in the Pre-Accelerator, we might decide that some support or know-how from within Diageo would benefit and will involve them. This is your decision though.

Do I need to sell part of my company to get initial investment?

Initial investment is in exchange for a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) which basically means no equity is exchanged at the point of investment. The SAFE note would convert to an equity stake at the next investment round. Regardless of the size of investment, we remain a minority investor so founders stay fully in control as the business scales.

How day to day do you work with companies? How involved are you?

All Pre-Accelerator brands have a dedicated DV partner who knows your business inside out to ensure you always have what you need and can pull in members of the full team when needed. They’ve got know-how in areas such as PR, brand launches or e-commerce. As all founders have different strengths and weaknesses, the support we give is both bespoke and broad-ranging.

We also have an online resource hub which we’ll give you access to. From case studies and campaign trackers to briefing documents and interviews with like-minded entrepreneurs; it's made with entrepreneurs in mind and updated with new content regularly.

Are pre-launch brands eligible?

Definitely. We’ll probably just ask you to send us some samples of your drink and any brand work you’ve done so far. Any thinking you’ve done about your future consumers and how you’ll connect to them is great to see as well. Of course, all of this will be protected under confidentiality agreements and not shared outside a very small group.

How can I apply?

You can apply through our general application form on the website here. The application questions are designed to give us insight into your thinking while sparing an exhaustive interview process. Don’t worry if you’ve only just getting started — we’re most interested in learning about your vision, your ambition and passions. We can’t wait to meet you!

How to apply

You can apply through our general application form on the website here. The application questions are designed to give us insight into your thinking while sparing an exhaustive interview process. Don’t worry if you’ve only just getting started — we’re most interested in learning about your vision, your ambition and passions. We can’t wait to meet you!

apply now