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Diageo's incubator spirits firm doubles number of places for 2015 applicants

Published:  19 August, 2014

Angel investor firm Distill Ventures will double the number of places available in its accelerator programme that helps new and growing spirits entrepreneurs launch and expand their brands and businesses.

The programme is open to international applicants and is an investment fund that allows entrepreneurs and those looking to grow their brands access to funding, industry expertise and mentorships. Investment funds can be up to £175,000 to kelp kick-start the business.

Distill Ventures was launched one year ago and is a collaboration between Diageo and London-based innovation specialists Independents United. Applicants are subject to several rounds of pitches and if successful, Diageo reserves the right to buy out the whole company. According to the site: "Diageo include this option to give them protection over their investment - they wouldn't want to back your company and then see one of their competitors benefit by acquiring it a few years later."

Shilen Patel, chief executive of Distill Ventures, said: "We're really excited to be doubling down on the Seed Programme, allowing us to work with a larger number of entrepreneurs from across the world. Last year we had applications from all parts of the world, and this year we're expanding our global search for the best new ideas and brands".

Distill Ventures has two different opportunities of the investment structures depending on where a company is in its life cycle.

The 'Seed' Programme is for entrepreneurs that have recently launched or are about to launch a spirits brand. Companies that participate in the Seed Programme will be required to make a financial contribution to participate in the programme. In exchange, the programme includes access to office space in London's West End for at least six months, weekly mentoring, masterclasses, reduced price access to professional services such as legal and IP registration, and assistance in getting business basics in place.

The 'Growth' Programme also allows for investments in business that have a proven sales and customer base but are needing investments to scale up and have an ambition to the become a successful global brand. Growth Programme includes a bespoke mentoring and access to expertise to help achieve expansion. There are no set limits on growth investments. Companies receiving investment will pay a percentage fee to Distill Ventures for the services received.

Dan Gasper,chief operating officer for Distill Ventures, said: "We're entrepreneurs ourselves, and everything we do at Distill Ventures is about helping entrepreneurs develop and grow great brands. We want to be the first and best place for up and coming spirits brands to come to if they are serious about taking their business to the next level. It's not just about cash investments, we give the businesses we work with unrivalled access to design, liquid and strategy expertise as well as advice and mentoring from a global network of drinks industry experts".

The deadline for registration for the next round of funding for the Seed Programme will close on September  14.