Constellation Brands, through its venture capital group Constellation Brands Ventures, intends to invest $100 million in female-led start-ups by 2028.
As part of the new Focus on Female Founders programme, the alcohol company aims to support female-founded or female-led businesses in the beverage alcohol space and adjacent categories.
Constellation said women-led businesses are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship in the US and generate two times the revenue per dollar versus the average non-women-owned businesses.
Funding recipients of the initiative will have access to Constellation’s staff and hands-on mentors as well as its expertise in brand-building, supply chain, governance, finance, and building relationships with distributors and retail partners.
Mallika Monteiro, Constellation Brands chief growth officer, said: “Our Focus on Female Founders programme reinforces our commitment to supporting the advancement of women within our company, within our industry, and in our local communities.
“This programme is designed to make meaningful investments in female-founded and female-led businesses doing disruptive and innovative work across beverage alcohol. Broadening our focus on this critical demographic will drive incremental growth for our business, enhance our relevance, deepen our consumer knowledge base, and broaden our pipeline of ideas and talent.”
The news comes as New York-headquartered Constellation reveals it has invested in two specialty beverage companies: Austin Cocktails and Vivify Beverages.
Sisters Jill Burns and Kelly Gasink established bottled cocktail company Austin Cocktails in Texas in 2012 using family recipes that originated from their grandfather, Fred.
“We’ve worked hard to get where we are, and we’re thrilled to have an investment from Constellation Brands to help us continue on our growth journey,” said Burns. “Constellation Brands’ reach, scale and influence will help take Austin Cocktails to a whole new level.”
Gasink added: “With the funding and the added resources that Constellation Brands has offered, we believe the opportunities in front of us are endless.”
The brand now offers five bottled cocktails: cucumber vodka mojito, ruby red cocktail, perfect bergamot orange margarita, peppered maple blood orange bourbon cocktail, and new school gin mule.
Constellation funds have also been used to support Vivify Beverages, makers of alcohol beverage products that aim to fulfil unmet consumer needs in the beer aisle.
The company’s first two products – Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda and Itz Spritz, a gluten-free, alcohol spritzer – are already gaining traction in markets across the country, Constellation said.
Vivify co-founder Sarah Ross said: “Constellation Brands thinks like we do. They are focused on what is coming next, not on what has worked in the past. We know we can leverage their investment in us and their expertise to keep our momentum going.”
Terms of the Austin Cocktails and Vivify Beverages transactions have not been disclosed.
Constellation Brands chief operating officer Bill Newlands said: “Women are an underrepresented demographic in the beverage alcohol industry and we are committed to doing our part to help change this.
“As consumer demographics, needs and choices continue to evolve, we believe the focus and point of view that women-led businesses bring to the table will help drive transformative innovation and accelerated growth for our business and, more importantly, for the beverage alcohol space at-large. And we are very excited to jump-start this effort with two fantastic companies, Austin Cocktails and Vivify.”
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