New York – Distill Ventures (DV), the world’s first independent drinks accelerator devoted to building and scaling the best drinks brands of the future, is pleased to announce the appointment of Heidi Dillon Otto as Managing Director of Distill Ventures North America. In this role, Heidi will oversee the direction and operation of Distill Ventures North America and its team of highly specialized drinks executives. The move comes on the heels of the departure of Managing Director Gonzalo de la Pezuela, a founding member of Distill Ventures North America, who will leave the organization at the end of June to pursue his own entrepreneurial ventures. In his four years at Distill Ventures, Gonzalo played a critical role building the foundation for the organization by recruiting leading U.S. entrepreneurs into the portfolio and securing investment to accelerate and scale their businesses.
Since joining the company in 2018 as Portfolio Director, Heidi has spearheaded DV’s North American portfolio brand marketing and consumer strategy and led the U.S. Non-Alcoholic drinks acceleration portfolio and program. She plays a lead role in category development initiatives, and provides crucial digital and e-commerce support across the full portfolio of Distill Ventures brands. Heidi also serves as a key advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs within the portfolio across multiple spirits categories, from white spirits to whiskeys.
In addition to the work Heidi will accomplish as Managing Director, Evis Savvides will continue in his senior leadership role as Operating Partner, assisting founders in the development and implementation of growth strategy. In his first year at DV, Evis has played an integral role building and strengthening the North American portfolio via oversight on all planning and operations, a key role in supply chain management, and the building of strategic commercial planning foundations.
“I am thrilled to take on this new role as Managing Director, Distill Ventures North America, and look forward to leading our incredible team and portfolio companies as together we enter this new chapter,” said Heidi. “I am deeply grateful for all that I have learned from Gonzalo, and for the strong foundation he has built in his four years leading this organization.”
“Heidi’s appointment to Managing Director, North America is a tribute to the leadership, relationship skills and deep brand building experience she has demonstrated since joining the organization, and we are thrilled to have someone of her caliber to lead the team,” added Distill Ventures CEO and Co-Founder Frank Lampen. “In the near-term, we look forward to her leadership and guidance as together we nurture our portfolio companies.”
In addition to working in tandem with DV’s diverse talent in its UK offices, which provide robust offerings to accelerate existing portfolio companies, Heidi, Evis, and DV’s North American drinks founders will continue to call on Josh Wortman, a three year veteran of DV and a fundamental resource on all things whiskey, Nicolas Proszenuck, who has served as Investment Director since early 2019, and Jules Briant, who joined the team earlier this year to lead as Trade Marketing Director supporting brands in their commercial success.
About Distill Ventures
Established in 2013, Distill Ventures is the drinks industry’s first accelerator for new and growing brands whose aim is to support entrepreneurs to develop, scale and sell the drinks brands of the future. Through a combination of cash investment, mentoring support and access to a network of experts, Distill Ventures works with founders to help brands go further, faster. Distill Ventures operates across both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink categories, and invests at all stages, from pre-launch (or “seed” businesses) through to those requiring significant growth and expansion capital. It is operated independently and backed by Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks company, providing investment funding, as well as resources and access through its global network of experts.
To date, Distill Ventures has invested over $120 million in 15+ drinks brands including: Stauning, one of Europe’s standout new whiskies from Denmark; Starward, a distinctive Australian whisky, exclusively matured in Australian wine barrels; Westward, a leading American single malt whiskey inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s craft beer traditions; Ritual Zero Proof, the first spirit alternative distilled in America that echoes the taste and smell of spirits; Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcohol distilled spirits brand, which exited into the Diageo portfolio in 2019; and Belsazar, a German aperitif integrated into the Diageo portfolio in 2018. Further information on Distill Ventures and details on how acceleration works for drinks brands is available at www.distillventures.com.
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