JOIN THE PRE-ACCELERATOR
Our funding and mentorship program is designed specifically for premium spirits & non-alcoholic drinks brands led by underrepresented founders.
who is the pre‑accelerator for?
In 2022, just 10% of all venture capital deals went to entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities including women, LGBTQ+, and people of Black, Asian, and multiple heritages.
We believe the most exciting innovations come from founder-led brands, where flavour innovation and provenance of liquid are celebrated and sought after.
By increasing representation at a founder level, the trickle-down effect will be a positive impact on diversity throughout the drinks industry.
Over the last 2 years, we've backed early stage startups drinks brands from around the world, with £8/$10 million investment and mentorship, helping founders to test, learn and scale the drinks brands of the future.
YOUR PRE ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME APPLICATION ENTRY CRITERIA
- A PASSION FOR DRINKS
- A FOUNDING TEAM OF PEOPLE FROM UNDERREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES
- A PRODUCT THAT IS EITHER ON SALE OR READY TO BE COMMERCIALIZED
- AN IDEA OF WHO YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE
STARTUP PRE ACCELERATOR OVERVIEW
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 and raising capital.
The Pre-Accelerator typically lasts 6-9 months and offers your founding teams investment of up to $500k/£350k along with tailored support and resources needed to plan, structure, test, learn and develop a scale plan which can unlock more substantial equity investment.
Together we'll build a plan with three priorities unique to your business plan and goals that will help you identify your target consumer and messaging, provide guidance on how to create your minimum viable product and begin to test your commercial proposition, and evaluate your product market fit, and attract investment.
The end result should be a clear vision of the path forward which sets you up for further investment to build a team and go-to market.
THE NEXT STEPS
You'll hear from us within 6 weeks of submitting your application.
When we have our first meeting, 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, your business model and goals, 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 as an early stage startup, or if your business is more developed and ready to ask for a more substantial equity raise immediately.
Meet Our People
MANAGING DIRECTOR - INCLUSIVE INVESTMENT PROGRAMS
INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY PROGRAM MANAGER
PORTFOLIO AND I&D DIRECTOR
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's the difference between incubator and accelerator?
A business incubator is suitable to businesses that have no clear product yet, and just ideas. Incubators help early-stage startups that are in the product-development phase.
On the other hand, business accelerators focus on brands that have a clear brand and viable product, accelerating their growth with expert business mentoring and sometimes funding.
Distill Ventures's Pre-Accelerator program, focuses on helping founders from underrepresented communities grow their drinks brands, giving them a boost into the drinks world.
What happens after the first 6-9 months?
During the six to nine months, we’ll work together to support you in bringing that plan to life, working towards a mutually agreed series of goals around testing and learning. With the results of your 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 time 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 do you work day to day with early stage startups? 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!