Retail and Direct To Consumer

SevenFifty Drinks Up $23M Series B For Online Alcohol Marketplaces

Illustration of liquor being poured from a smartphone-shaped bottle

SevenFifty, developer of beverage alcohol technology, closed on $23 million in a round of Series B funding led by Level Equity.

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Aaron Sherman co-founded the company, headquartered in New York, nearly a decade ago and has raised just over $31 million in funding, he told Crunchbase News.

SevenFifty provides web-based and mobile technology based on a three-tier platform that connects buyers, distributors and retailers across the supply chain in an integrated sales and marketing toolkit.

“Even though COVID had a big impact on the industry, it is still far behind the technology adoption curve,” Sherman said. “There is an opportunity to move more quickly, and we wanted to have the funding to do that.”

The industry is still new to technology: The share of alcohol sales made online was just 1 percent in 2019, compared to groceries at 3.4 percent and 38 percent of apparel sales during the same time.

International Wine & Spirit Research now expects the total value of alcohol e-commerce across 10 global markets, including the U.S., to exceed $40 billion by 2024. That’s after the figure reached about $5.6 billion in 2020, up from around $3 billion in 2019.

Since 2016, global alcohol e-commerce startups have taken in $2.06 billion in funding spread over 608 investments, according to Crunchbase data. In the U.S., investors poured $1.06 billion into 285 transactions over the same period.

SevenFifty spent eight years talking to distributors in each state to put together a marketplace designed to provide a complete picture of the beverages available. That means producers can build out marketing campaigns inside the site for promotions to the end customer, while retailers can build their orders based off of what is available. In addition, the platform provides tools for retailers to create an e-commerce storefront — think “Shopify for wine and spirits retailers,” Sherman said.

“The alcoholic beverage industry has been working off of regulations that were put in place when prohibition ended with almost no technology,” Sherman said. “There is a federally mandated three-tier supply chain with the producer required to sell to a wholesaler in each state, who then sells to the licensed retail tier.”

Even though the three-tier system offers security and authenticity so that fraud doesn’t enter the system, there is a complicated patchwork of regulations.

Today, the company has more than 90,000 retailers on the platform, and experienced 100 percent year-over-year revenue growth last year. Sherman intends to use the new funding on R&D and hiring to scale the business. SevenFifty has 100 employees currently, and he expects that number to be around 170 by the end of the year.

Sherman is also looking to make more acquisitions. The company acquired Bridge, which was also developing technology and data-driven tools for the beverage alcohol industry, last June.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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