Deal Dive: Doing venture math on the non-alcoholic spirits industry

Hangovers suck. Especially so for those who felt pressured to drink the alcohol that inevitably caused the hangover to begin with.

Drinking is slowly starting to fall out of fad, especially among younger generations. According to 2022 Gallup polling, 60% of adult Americans drink alcohol. This is down from 65% in 2019, and while 5% doesn’t seem like a huge change, it’s a pretty drastic shift when it comes to consumer spending dollars.

Founders are taking full advantage of the shift as numerous startups have popped up just in the last few years looking to offer low- and non-alcoholic options. Aplós is the latest one to secure funding.

The Miami-based startup announced a $5.5 million Series A round this week led by McCarthy Capital, a Midwestern private equity firm. Co-founder and CEO David Fudge told TechCrunch+ that he wanted to launch the company because he’s always considered himself a “reluctant drinker” but didn’t think there was a product that would fill what he was looking for: something that gave the same relaxation benefits and vibes of alcohol but without the next-day regret.

“The vision is to reimagine the adult beverage category for the new era, to create the first super premium non-alcoholic spirit brand,” Fudge said. “We want the sophistication, complexity, versatility and functionality of a high-end spirit. That’s something that we didn’t see in the market and what we were really interested in ourselves.”

As a consumer, I love that there are entrepreneurs trying to both innovate in this category and bring in new options. Non-alcoholic spirit brands like Aplós feel like a win-win because it not only is giving people more of an incentive to choose perhaps a healthier, lower-calorie option over alcohol, but it gives bars and restaurants a better way of providing comparable non-alcoholic cocktails to their customers and can price them the same. Capitalism!

But while I think the growth of this sector has societal benefits, how it plays out for investors isn’t clear.

Deal Dive: Doing venture math on the non-alcoholic spirits industry by Rebecca Szkutak originally published on TechCrunch

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