The Ardent Company founders, Daniel Rowntree, Dan Gasper and Andreas Redlefsen

Dan Gasper: ardent incubator advocate

04 January, 2023

Known for his time with Distill Ventures, Dan Gasper now has a new business stateside. He shares his vision for the company with Shay Waterworth.

Dan Gasper landed in LA during the autumn with 12 suitcases shared between his wife, daughter and pet dog to begin work on The Ardent Company, his new incubator business. Having spent the past 22 years in London, Gasper is best known within the drinks industry for co-founding Diageo-backed accelerator company Distill Ventures.

Along with his two co-founders, Daniel Rowntree and Andreas Redlefsen, Gasper’s vision for The Ardent Company is clear.

“We’re totally independent,” he says. “We’re free to invest in anyone we want and also to exit with anybody. The Ardent Company is a proudly independent accelerator of the brightest founder-led businesses. My time at Distill Ventures was fantastic, but to build something truly independent which could provide long-term fuel for founders was something that I’d always wanted to do, which makes me proud.”

Golden State

Aside from the promise of constant sunshine, Gasper believes the dynamic drinks market of Los Angeles makes it the perfect place for The Ardent Company to blossom.

“I always wanted this business to be based in the US because it’s the number one spirits market in the world,” adds Gasper. “They drink 60% more spirits per capita than Europeans and brands which are successfully built in the US exit for around double the value for those built in Europe.

From my perspective, those brands which succeed in the US tend to last more than those which only make it in Europe. “I also believe that if we’re going to be supporting and coaching founder-led brands then we need to be living and breathing the local bar scene and local off-trade. We need to be in it and not just reading about it.”

Gasper’s impression on the drinks industry is significant. Without him, and ultimately Distill Ventures, brands such as Seedlip, Mr Black and Starward whisky may not have taken off in the same way.

“Somebody described me as a veteran of the drinks industry recently, which was scary – I’m only 43,” he says. “When I launched Distill Ventures I never would have imagined that the biggest brand would be Seedlip and I still believe the low and no-alcohol sector is a significant part of our industry’s future.”

Going low/no

The low and no-alcohol category will be one of The Ardent Company’s biggest focuses, which is another reason for its headquarters to rest in LA.

“I’m particularly interested in low and no and in the States there’s a huge movement towards functional drinks, ones with natural ingredients which will add to your life or health in some way. And then there’s the ‘buzz’ category, things like THC aperitifs or drinks with more active ingredients which will give a consumer the effects of abv without actually having any.

“The cannabis sector also really fascinates me because for the past five years in California you’ve been able to turn left to a cannabis shop, or right to a cocktail bar. We’re not investing in the drinks you can have today, we’re investing in the ones you’ll be drinking in 2027 and beyond, and LA is at the forefront of the drinks industry right now.”

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