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Owen’s Craft Mixers Raises $7.5M for its Premium Mixer Brand as Interest in Drink from Home Surges




The pandemic has driven fundamental shifts in the business of alcoholic beverages as well as domestic behaviors within the home.  With strict at-home orders, Americans began bringing more and more alcohol into their homes to combat stress in some cases and boredom in others; interest in at-home cocktail making rose sharply.  Owen’s Craft Mixers is a premium mixer brand that offers an array of flavors and mixes to allow consumers to make the perfect cocktail from the comfort of their home.  The mixers are available in 14,000 physical stores including Public, Kroger, and CVS, and online through the company’s website and Instacart. Owen’s Craft Mixers are also available at bars and restaurants, sports venues, and golf courses.  This omnichannel strategy led to a 378% increase in sales year-to-date as compared to 2020.

Alleywatch caught up with Cofounder and President Joshua Miller to learn more about the company’s impressive traction, future plans, latest round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $9M, and much, much more.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

The investors include Lee Brice (country music star), Mario Lemieux (NHL Hall of Famer), Darius Rucker (Grammy Award-winning musician/star) Ryan Hurd (Country music star), Maas Family Fund (Founder/Creator of Rumchata, recently sold to Gallo), Larry Levy (Levy Family Partners, Founder of Levy Restaurants), and Todd Bondy (VC investor, Drink Owen’s Mixers LLC). The round is Series B and we raised $7.5 million.

Tell us about the product or service that Owen’s Craft Mixers offers.

Owen’s Craft Mixers is an award-winning, premium mixer company. Created as a solution to perfecting a quick and delicious craft cocktail, Owen’s has become a key component in the nation’s leading retailers, bars, stadiums, and restaurants. Owen’s Craft Mixers are made in the USA from real ingredients (real juice and pure cane sugar) and quality you can taste. Today its award-winning portfolio includes Ginger Beer and Lime, Grapefruit and Lime, Mint, Cucumber and Lime, Tonic Water and Lime, Cranberry and Lime, and Margarita Mix. Owen’s is proudly the Official Cocktail Mixer of Barstool Sports, and the Owens-Barstool Transfusion Mix is currently available at multiple retail outlets and golf courses, including Troon golf clubs throughout the United States.

What inspired the start of Owen’s Craft Mixers?

Tyler (cofounder) and I started Owen’s based on a common experience that most people have in a bar or restaurant. We were at a local bar on a Friday night, and we were looking to enjoy some cocktails to start off the weekend. We noticed there was a specialty cocktail on display and we decided to order since it sounded enticing. The cocktail took a long time to produce, mainly because the recipe required multiple steps and the bartender was super busy with many incoming orders. We waited for about 20 minutes and then finally the cocktails were served. Within that amount of time, we started talking about the popularity and rise of craft cocktails in all sorts of bars/restaurants. The cocktail didn’t live up to the expectation and when asking the bartender what they thought, they replied “yeah I’m not really sure how to properly make the drink.” It was at that exact moment that we decided to create a solution that was both quality-driven and help improve the efficiency of making the actual cocktail.

How is Owen’s Craft Mixers different?

Owen’s unlike other brands is made with the base of real juice and pure cane sugar- offering a low calorie and sugar, high-quality cocktail mixer. Each Owen’s Mixer incorporates multiple ingredients in the bottle allowing consumers to simply combine their favorite spirit over ice with Owen’s providing a high-quality cocktail in two easy steps. We are also proud to be made in America, as well as family-owned and operated. Our team consists of incredibly talented industry professionals that we consider family as well. They are a major driver of our success.

What market does Owen’s Craft Mixers target and how big is it?

There is a massive opportunity within the “adult beverage” space, specifically in the premium cocktail mix segment. We remain demographic agnostic, meaning we are focused on a quality solution for anyone looking to consume a high-quality cocktail or mocktail. The total addressable cocktail mixer market is over $4B. During 2020, premium cocktail mixers grew over 60% according to IRI data. Owen’s is the fastest-growing premium mixer brand in terms of total sales for the past 6 quarters in a row.

What’s your business model?

Owen’s takes an omnichannel approach: brick & mortar retail (off-premise), bars, restaurants, stadiums, golf courses (on-premise), and e-commerce (direct to consumer). We work through liquor and beer distributors nationwide that provides us with an extremely powerful DSD network.

What was the funding process like?

The funding process was surprisingly enjoyable and seamless. It’s clear that all the people we spoke with had heard of Owen’s previously, but more importantly, saw a massive opportunity. Our discipline and focus on being the best non-alcoholic cocktail mixer provided prospective investors with clear confidence that we could scale our business and do exactly what we have set out to do.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

It was a unique process given COVID prevented any real face-to-face meetings, so the majority of the conversations were either virtual or over the phone. There was also a lot of uncertainty over the past year, so it was imperative to provide a clear path to success and exactly how we were going to scale the business coming out of COVID.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Overall growth and focus led our investors to write the check. Each entity involved had confidence in the plans we have laid out, and more importantly, they see our team as the perfect group to become #1 in the space.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

As the on-premise (bars/restaurants/stadiums) start to reopen, we want to welcome back our partners and be the supporting cast in their beverage program to create high-quality cocktails for guests returning to their spaces for the first time in over a year. We are also focused on expanding our retail presence within the stores with greater floor displays and programming with top spirit brands.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Managing emotions is the hardest obstacle I have personally faced as a founder. You can’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. Showing discipline and focus with your emotions will help you make more shrewd and strategic business decisions. And the age-old saying, “Patience is a virtue,” couldn’t be any more relevant. Stay the course and adapt when necessary.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

We see Owen’s as becoming THE go-to premium cocktail mixer for any demographic and occasion. I love that Owen’s can be used in so many ways and paired with essentially any type of spirit. We firmly believe that Owen’s presence across the country will not only continue to grow, but we will start to become top of mind for any consumer looking for a quality and convenient cocktail solution.

What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC

I’m biased, but Bareburger will always be my favorite since they were the first to serve Owen’s. My second favorite is Olio E Piu. Those espresso martinis hit differently on a Saturday afternoon in the Summer…

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Don’t wait for legislation banning NDAs: Write ethical policies now




Companies across the United States should be closely following the California State Legislature hearings on the “Silenced No More Act,” which would prevent the use of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence employees from speaking up about all forms of discrimination and harassment.

The legislation was introduced in response to the stunning claims brought forward by former Pinterest employees alleging a pattern of racial and gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation. They courageously called attention to the hypocrisy of Pinterest’s aspirational comments on social issues even though the company had required them to sign NDAs.

As attorneys who work with shareholders to hold companies accountable for this misconduct, these allegations have deeply impacted our work. They formed the basis of an ongoing shareholder derivative lawsuit that a state pension fund we represent brought against Pinterest’s board of directors and top executives for participating in and otherwise protecting powerful executives who are alleged to have discriminated against Pinterest employees.

Failure to recognize this necessity will lead to future corporate scandals as multiple accounts of the same type of misconduct in the workplace come to light.

The Silenced No More Act would extend existing laws that limit the use of NDAs. Such laws are important because NDAs are intended to protect executives by keeping their harassment, discrimination and retaliation under wraps. That NDAs chill the voices of employees who have already been victimized makes them even more toxic. NDAs cause women to fear reprisal from the company, sometimes even incorporating financial penalty clauses, long after their individual claims have been resolved.

The Silenced No More Act should pass swiftly and be a model for other states, but this is what all companies throughout the country should be doing on their own, rather than waiting for legislation to drag an ethical NDA policy out of them.

Failure to recognize this necessity will lead to future corporate scandals as multiple accounts of the same type of misconduct in the workplace come to light. It will continue to uphold an unsustainable corporate system where executives in positions of power assume they will be protected no matter how unlawful their behavior toward others in the workplace.

We have seen from our investigations the compounding impacts of NDAs and how they allow problems to fester over years.

The two of us, working with others and on behalf of Alphabet shareholders, were part of the team that led a groundbreaking $310 million settlement with the tech company that led to historic diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) reforms at the company. That settlement was the result of a shareholder derivative lawsuit where stockholders alleged that executives and board members violated their fiduciary duties by enabling a double standard that allowed executives to sexually harass and discriminate against women without consequence.

In that case, we believe Alphabet’s “culture of concealment” was driven in large part by the silencing effects of NDAs.

The duration of misconduct, enabled by NDAs, goes far beyond Alphabet and Pinterest. There is no shortage of #MeToo scandals at powerful companies, many with presences in California, that were exacerbated by muzzling NDAs. Weinstein Company, Wynn Resorts, NBC and 21st Century Fox are prominent examples of companies that first tried to keep allegations quiet through the use of NDAs and later faced a firestorm of allegations from former employees.

Fortunately, the landscape surrounding discrimination and harassment in the workplace is changing. Shareholders, workers, customers and other key business stakeholders are becoming more active in demanding that companies stop protecting harassers.

All of this should send a message to boards and C-suite executives that they must set the tone from the top and they are far better off being proactive than reactive. That means actively creating a company culture where DEI is a foundational component — not an afterthought. It also means intentionally prioritizing transparency and proactively doing away with policies that are antithetical to that goal, like NDAs that are intentionally designed to suppress the voices of employees.

The public and shareholders want to be associated with companies that do right by their employees. Business should recognize this change from a culture of compliance to one of equity and inclusion and embrace this new reality by stopping the practice of requiring complainants to enter into NDAs and fostering a culture of inclusion and accountability.

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The Briefing: Cyral Lands $26M For Cloud Security, Impress Raises $50M, And More




Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Cyral lands $26M for cloud security

Milpitas, California-based Cyral, a security provider for data in the cloud, announced that it raised $26 million in new funding from existing and strategic investors.

The financing brings total capital raised to date to $41.1 million.

Funding rounds

Impress picks up $50M for orthodontics: Barcelona-based Impress, a developer of orthodontic technology that offers invisible aligners, raised $50 million in a Series A round led by CareCapital, an investor focused on the dental and oral care industry.

DeepScribe raises $5M for medical record-taking: DeepScribe, an AI-driven platform for medical record-taking, announced it has raised $5.3 million in a seed round led by Bee Partners.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

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BRD’s Blockset unveils its white-label cryptocurrency wallet for banks and other enterprise clients




Blockset, the blockchain infrastructure platform for enterprises by BRD, announced early access to its Wallet-as-a-Service today. The white-label solution gives clients, like financial institutions, the ability to launch wallets that have the same features as BRD’s own mobile cryptocurrency wallet, which now has about 7 million users with over $20 billion assets under protection.

Blockset’s clients include some of the largest ATM networks and Japanese investment bank (and BRD investor) SBI Holdings, CoinFlip, Welthee, CoinSwitch, Coinsquare and Wyre. BRD’s other investors include Ripple and it has raised $56 million in funding so far.

One of Blockset’s selling points is access to real-time data about several kinds of cryptocurrencies. This not only allows users to see how their assets are performing, but also enables institutions to perform compliance tasks, fraud detection, anti-money laundering and other important services. Blockset also claims that its multi-chain API has up to 99.999% uptime.

The platform currently supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Tezos, Hedera, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV, and will add more chains based on customer demand.

Blockset already offered a white-label solution called WalletKit, before launching its current Wallet-as-a-Service with more features. BRD co-founder and CEO Adam Traidman compares its Wallet-as-a-Service to Google Maps, because both aggregate large amounts of constantly-changing data and can connect to other apps, while remaining user-friendly.

“The concept is really a result of learnings from working with our customers, tier one financial institutions, who need a couple things,” Traidman told TechCrunch. “Generally they want to custody crypto on behalf of their customers. For example, if you’re running an ETF, like a Bitcoin ETF, or if you’re offering customers buying and selling, you need a way to store the crypto, and you need a way to access the blockchain.”

“The Wallet-as-a-Service is the nomenclature we use to talk about the challenge that customers are facing, whereby blockchain is really complex,” he added. “There are three V’s that I talk about: variety, a lot of velocity because there’s a lot of transactions per second, and volume because there’s a lot of total aggregate data.”

Blockset also enables clients to add features like trading crypto or fiat or lending Bitcoin or Stablecoins to take advantage of high interest rates. Enterprises can develop and integrate their own solutions or work with Blockset’s partners.

Other companies that offer enterprise blockchain infrastructure include Bison Trails, which was recently acquired by Coinbase, and Galaxy Digital.

Blockset differentiates by focusing on real-time data. It looks at a smaller number of mainstream blockchains in order to ensure depth of information and speed.

“If you’re a financial institution, you can’t accept anything other than instant, accurate and highly-scalable kinds of data. Right down to the millisecond of latency is really important because it can give traders an advantage,” said Traidman.

In a press statement, Wyre chief executive officer Ioannis Giannaros said “Blockset is the clear industry leader in offering enterprise-grade SLAs [service-level agreements] that we require to guarantee high scalability, uptime and data integrity across multiple blockchains.”

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Start Ups

Auto parts data platform PDM Automotive raises $4M after doubling revenue in 2020




New funding: PDM Automotive, a 3-year-old company that runs an automotive product data platform for manufacturers and receivers, raised a $4 million round led by Fuse. The startup provides information on aftermarket automotive parts and other data to companies such as Walmart, Advance Auto Parts, Autozone, Amazon, and eBay. Large automotive parts companies also manage their catalog data with PDM.

The startup spun out of Velocity Automotive, an e-commerce leader in Europe for U.S. auto parts. PDM is led by founders Johannes Crepon and Philipp Crepon.

“The automotive aftermarket is antiquated when it comes to data exchange and procuring business,” Johannes said. “Our platform overarches several segments from data generation, data maintenance, data integration, and business connections. We make it easier to provide better data and streamline the exchange of data.”

The company’s revenue doubled in 2020. Johannes said the pandemic has helped drive demand with used car sales rising, an increase in accessory purchases, and supply chain issues all providing tailwinds. PDM has 20 employees and plans to hire.

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