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Distill Ventures invests in booze-free Seedlip

Diageo-backed and funded accelerator programme Distill Ventures has confirmed it has invested in Seedlip, the “world’s first” distilled non-alcoholic spirit.

Distill Ventures has backed Seedlip, its first non-alcoholic drink investment, founded by Ben Branson (pictured)

The investment comes as the Seedlip seeks to expand its business into international markets.

Diageo now holds a minority stake in the Seedlip business, while founder Ben Branson remains majority shareholder. He will continue to act as the decision maker regarding marketing, sales and new product development.

The investment marks the first time Distill Ventures has backed a non-alcoholic product.

“The last six months have been surreal and overwhelming,” said Branson. “Our rapid, early growth has given us even more confidence that we can truly solve the dilemma of ‘what-to-drink-when-you’re-not-drinking’ at a global premium level.

“With Diageo’s international experience in spirits and the trade, coupled with Distill Ventures’ expertise in start-up drinks companies, we have strong foundations to achieve our purpose and take Seedlip to more people in more markets, beginning with select US and Western European cities later this year.”

Shilen Patel, co-founder of Distill Ventures, said investing in Seedlip made sense because it follows the a business model close to that of an alcoholic spirits brand: “We first met Ben two years ago, and as his ideas on Seedlip developed, it seemed increasingly obvious to us that this would be a great addition to the portfolio and we’re delighted that Ben felt the same way about joining the programme.

“Seedlip is led by an outstanding entrepreneur shaping the future of a whole new category in drinks. More bars and restaurants want to offer high quality non-alcoholic options as part of their range and Seedlip gives them a great option to do that.”

Helen Michels, global innovation director, futures team, Diageo, added: “Seedlip, is a company of exceptional quality with a visionary founder offering a ‘sophisticated alternative’ to alcoholic drinks.

“We recognise the opportunity of non-alcoholic drinks and our portfolio already includes Guinness Zero in Indonesia, Guinness Malta in Africa and more recently Orijin Zero in Nigeria. We continue to explore and invest in this area and, in Seedlip, we have found a unique product which gives people a complex and refined drinking experience.

“For generations, Diageo has been innovating and meeting consumer trends by offering new products, formats and ingredients. Now in its third year, the Distill Ventures programme continues to allow us to discover and support new brands within pioneering categories, anticipate shifts in consumer behaviour and ensure our business remains at the forefront of trends in the years to come.”

Seedlip initially launched in October 2015, releasing its first line extension, Seedlip Garden 108, in May 2016.

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