Constellation Brands Ventures intends to invest $100 million in female-founded or female-led businesses in the beverage alcohol space and adjacent categories by 2028 through a new program, Focus on Female Founders. The company has completed its first investments in two specialty beverage companies: Austin Cocktails and Vivify Beverages.

“Our Focus on Female Founders program reinforces our commitment to supporting the advancement of women within our company, within our industry, and in our local communities,” said Mallika Monteiro, chief growth officer, at Constellation Brands. “This program 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.”

Women-led businesses are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship in the U.S. and generate two times the revenue per dollar versus the average non-women-owned businesses, yet only 2 percent of venture capital funding went to female-led companies in 2017.

The Focus on Female Founders program supports emerging brands and technologies that are in or adjacent to the beverage alcohol space. Interested companies must be founded and/or led by women. In addition to an infusion of capital, funding recipients will have access to Constellation’s experienced staff and hands-on mentors; brand-building, supply chain, governance and finance expertise; strong relationships with distributors and retail partners; and a community of fellow women entrepreneurs who can share knowledge and offer support.

“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 CEO 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.”

Co-founders and sisters Jill Burns and Kelly Gasink established Austin Cocktails, an Austin, Texas based bottled cocktail company, in 2012 using family recipes that originated with their grandfather, Fred.

Funds have also been invested in Vivify Beverages, makers of innovative, premium alcohol beverage products that bring consumers “better for you,” flavorful options that fulfill 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 Brands Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of Constellation Brands, a Victor-based firm.