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The Business Accelerator to Grow Your Drinks Brand

Our mission is to find the best and brightest entrepreneurs looking to shake up the drinks industry with a clear vision and a commitment to growing strong identities for their brands.

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ABOUT THE SESSION

Over ten years ago we launched the world’s first independent business accelerator for drinks brands. Our mission is to find the best and brightest entrepreneurs looking to shake up the drinks industry with a clear vision and a commitment to growing strong identities for their brands.

Since 2013, our accelerator programme has delivered £245m in funding to around 40 brands, helping these early-stage companies as they seek to reimagine our relationship with drinks.

A business accelerator programme explained

Successfully transforming  a business idea into a brand takes time and resources. The satisfaction of making a difference, getting noticed in the industry and reaping the financial rewards can be a long time coming.

A business accelerator does what it says - it helps you get there faster.

In simple terms, an accelerator programme injects cash and expertise into an operation with at least a minimum viable product. It puts a particular focus on growth and breaking into the market, while helping you test and learn along the way.

The vital ingredients are cash, mentorship and input from industry experts. An accelerator is a great way for entrepreneurs to refine their product and sharpen their thinking.

Having a strong entrepreneurial mindset and a solid business model is great. But some industries, like the drinks market, are highly competitive. An accelerator can give you the edge needed to become a recognised brand.

Many business accelerators run a programme over just a few months. This can be intense and demanding. They often end with a demo day, where your business presents itself to potential investors.

Remember that selection for a business accelerator does not guarantee your startup will be a success.

A business accelerator is different from a business incubator. A business incubator fosters innovation and exploration, leading to new business ideas. A startup accelerator, sometimes called a seed accelerator, helps a young company that already has a viable idea. It helps by giving access to the resources needed for growth. This includes giving founders specialised  support s, to help nurture a proven product into something special.

Support available in a business accelerator

Funding for early-stage businesses

Lack of cash puts pressure on new brands, leavingFounders distracted as they seek out investment opportunities. They can be forced to make compromises in their business and pressured to expand too soon.

Accelerator programmes solve this problem. They provide capital investment. The source and terms of that investment vary. We arrange capital investment through Diageo, our sole investor, ranging from £250k up to £10m.

The funding provided through business accelerator programmes is typically in return for a stake in the ownership of the company.

Expert support for entrepreneurs

Alongside equity investment, a business accelerator programme typically gives founders the support and resources they need to refine their thinking and improve their product.

Partnering with industry experts is a valuable way for founders to receive funding whilst also  validating their ideas, exploring new markets and accessing specialist advice - plus, the opportunity to receive mentoring and personal support.

Brands in our accelerator programme get support from experts who help founders work on their strategic business development plan and have experience in nurturing small businesses in the drinks industry.

Other support from a business accelerator

Investment of cash and expertise aren't the only benefits of a business accelerator programme. Typically they provide access to a vibrant community of early-stage companies - startups like themselves.

The accelerator programme can help a business find office space, formal training, and exposure to potential customers and partners.

A major benefit provided by a business accelerator is access to their network of contacts and other small businesses. Meet other founders, share your experiences, learn from one another. Establish relationships with other companies and also potential investors.

Your network is a hugely valuable asset. Through it you can pick up insider insights into the industry and markets you're focused on. Learn tips and tricks to help your business develop and grow faster.

How the Distill Venture business accelerator works

We are always looking for innovators and entrepreneurs in the drinks sector - alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Our business is independent, working in partnership with Diageo, our sole investor. Both we and Diageo know what it takes to launch and build a drinks business.

A candidate for our accelerator programme is typically in the early stages of establishing a brand. That said, we also invest in well-established brands seeking to scale rapidly, reach new markets or construct production facilities.

Whether the team runs an existing business or a startup, we're looking for a great idea, big ambitions and loads of determination. We provide support to companies of many different sizes. What gets our attention is a distinctive brand story and the team's commitment to their vision.

Once signed up, we take teams through 'The Five Bricks' of our small business accelerator.

The five bricks of our process

Business Basics

Cash flow and information for decision-making can be blind spots to startups. We help you set up robust systems, supported by advice from accountants, lawyers and IT professionals.

Having the right corporate structure, compliance, contracts and IP will save you time, money and stress.

Being a great entrepreneur

We give you access to consulting and coaching services to help your team further develop its strengths. It's tough to break into the drinks industry. We want you to perform at peak level in a crowded market.

Selling profitably

We help you focus on going deep, not wide. Learn how to nurture influencers in your supply chain into becoming advocates for your brand. Think about pricing and how that impacts your margins, and that of others from producers to distributors.

A great product

It's not just what's inside the bottle that counts. Stand-out taste that blends the traditional with the unexpected can capture the mood of a place, a time or an emotion in liquid form.

But that's not enough. The bottle, the label, the colouring and the presentation are all essential to the brand. Our business accelerator helps you shape all this.

Being interesting

To get noticed, your brand needs to be part of the conversation. So much of today's media is social that you can't afford to be ignorable.

We help you pull all the threads together - flavour, story and branding - to craft a product with a character others can't resist talking about.

The Distill Ventures Pre-Accelerator

We believe that the most exciting innovations in flavour spring from founder-led brands. Many of these founders emerge from communities underrepresented as recipients of venture capital - LGBTQ+, women, and people of Black, Asian and multiple heritages.

Our pre-accelerator programme is looking to change that. The 6-9-month programme helps teams identify a target consumer, start testing a commercial proposition and evaluate fit within the market.

If you're passionate about flavours, have a drinks product that's ready for the market (maybe already on sale), and come from an underrepresented community, we want to hear from you.

We're already helping early-stage entrepreneurs get access to the investment and mentorship they need to establish a viable business model and a strong brand.

How Distill Ventures has helped drinks businesses

Our founders saw that many entrepreneurs were bringing innovation and excitement to the drinks market, but so often they lacked the resources to build. We set out to provide a route to finance, support and industry knowledge, giving some of these new businesses the best opportunity to compete with global brands.

Since then we've provided funding and mentorship to over 15 founder-led drinks brands. We've supported brands like Seedlip, Belsazar Berlin Aperitif and Stauning Whisky.

Can we help your drinks business?

If you have a bold idea for a brilliant liquid, if there's a market for it and a strong story behind the brand, we may be able to help your business grow. To start the process, apply for funding today.