Distill Ventures Announces Program to Assist Minority-Owned Startups

Distill Ventures announced the launch of a new Pre-Accelerator Program dedicated to assisting early-stage startup founders from underrepresented groups. The goal is to invest $5 million in drinks entrepreneurs over the next year.

Distill hopes to help entrepreneurs unlock seed funding, a key barrier reported by founders in segments with less access to capital, per a press release about the initiative. The announcement cited:

  • Since 2015, just 2.4% of venture capital financing across all sectors in the United States has gone to Black and Latinx founders according to the 2020 Crunchbase Diversity Spotlight Report.
  • In 2019, in the United Kingdom, only 3% of founders who raised venture capital funding for their start-ups identified as Black, 7% identified as Asian, and 3% mixed/multiple heritages.
  • Crunchbase data shows that the proportion of global venture funding to female-only founders was just 2.3% in 2020, a decline from 2019.

The Pre-Accelerator will help identify potential founders via Distill Ventures’ search pipeline, initially focusing on the U.S. and U.K. Successful applicants will get support to develop a six-month business plan en route to possible initial funding ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 from Distill Ventures and Diageo, Distill’s founding partner. The opportunity comes with the possibility of a longer-term partnership to continue to grow these businesses.

“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.”

Interested entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for funding at www.distillventures.com/pre-accelerator, where they will be asked to fill out an introductory application.

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