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Pronghorn announces brand investments

Diageo-backed incubator Pronghorn has invested in three Black-owned spirits companies: Den of Thieves, Ego Tequila and Tequila with Friends.

L-r: Erin Harris, Pronghorn co-founder; Dia Simms, Pronghorn co-founder; and Debra Crew, president, Diageo North America. (Photo Credit: Lukasz Suski)

The company, which is dedicated to helping the next generation of Black entrepreneurs, will supplement the investment with access to its supercharging programme, which includes consulting services from Pronghorn’s team of industry experts, to accelerate the brands’ growth.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to add these leaders and their brands to the Pronghorn family,” said portfolio director Connor McKenna.

“They are exactly the kind of visionary entrepreneurs we look for, individuals who will lead the way as together we build a more diverse and equitable spirits industry.”

Tequila with Friends (TWF) is a spirits brand launched by entrepreneurs Brandon Scott, Curnelius Arnick, Roddrick West, and Devin Woodson. The long-time friends-turned-founding-members launched TWF in 2018, turning what started as a blog for Tequila lovers into a brand ‘rooted in friendship and fun’.

Since debuting in-store in 2020, TWF’s blanco and reposado Tequilas have secured listings in more than 150 locations, with a retail footprint in Texas, California and the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Bourbon brand Den of Thieves was founded by Jason Armstrong. It was created to ‘honour the spirit of old prohibition moonshiners’ ingenuity and camaraderie’.

Den of Thieves’ portfolio includes four core products: Straight Bourbon, 8-Year Barrel Select Bourbon, a ginger vanilla-flavoured Bourbon and chocolate-flavoured Bourbon. All are distributed to six markets across the US.

Ego Tequila was founded in 2019 by Rikki Kelly. It is said to be the first Black woman-owned Tequila in the state of Texas, and the third in the US.

With ‘minimal experience in the category’, the 23-year-old founder launched the brand’s blanco and reposado offerings in 2021 and is now distributed in Texas in 50 off-premise locations.

Research by Pronghorn has shown that while Black Americans represent 12% of alcohol consumers across categories, they make up only 7.8% of the sector’s labour force and 2% of executives in the industry.

Further, there have been zero acquisitions of Black-owned spirits brands.

Pronghorn’s company’s mission is to fill 1,800 industry roles and 57 Black-owned brand investments in the next decade.

The company aims to generate US$2.4 billion in economic value for the Black community by 2032.

Since its launch this year, Pronghorn has made four capital investments, one of which was to Ten To One – a Caribbean rum brand founded by CEO, Marc Farrell and co-owned by Grammy-winning artist, Ciara.

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