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Constellation to invest $100m in female-run companies

Constellation Brands has pledged to invest at least US$100m in start-up beverage companies led by females by 2028 as part of its Focus on Female Founders campaign, in an effort to support women working within a typically male-dominated industry.

Austin Cocktails has already benefitted from investment.

Women-led businesses are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship in the U.S, according to the US Small Business Administration, and generate two times the revenue per dollar versus the average non-women-owned businesses. Yet only 2% of venture capital funding went to female-led companies in 2017, according to data from Pitchbook, an M&A, private equity, and VC database.

Having launched its Focus on Female Founders initiative, Constellation has already completed its first investments in two specialty beverage companies: Austin Cocktails and Vivify Beverages.

“Women are an underrepresented demographic in the beverage alcohol industry and we are committed to doing our part to help change this,” said Bill Newlands, president and chief operating officer, and incoming chief executive officer of Constellation Brands.

“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.”

Austin Cocktails – a bottled cocktail company – was founded by sisters Jill Burns and Kelly Gasink in an Austin, Texas in 2012 using family recipes that originated with 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.”

“With the funding and the added resources that Constellation Brands has offered, we believe the opportunities in front of us are endless,” said Gasink.

Today, Austin Cocktails 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.

Vivify Beverages, which produces premium alcoholic beverages that are “better for you”, including Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda and Itz Spritz, a gluten-free, alcoholic spritzer, has also benefitted from funding.

“Constellation Brands thinks like we do. They are focused on what is coming next, not on what has worked in the past,” said Sarah Ross, co-founder and vice president of marketing and innovation, Vivify. “We know we can leverage their investment in us and their expertise to keep our momentum going.”

The Focus on Female Founders program only supports emerging brands and technologies that are in or adjacent to the beverage alcohol space and have been founded and/or led by women.

In addition to capital investment, recipients will also have access to Constellation’s wider network of staff and brand-building expertise, as well as its supply chain and distribution network.

Terms of the Austin Cocktails and Vivify Beverages transactions have not been disclosed.

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