CEO Nick Rellas and the Drizly team have a unique vision for improving the entire wine and spirits industry with technology. It is truly an industry that is untouched by the software led revolution happening across the American economy. What’s unique is that it’s also an industry hungry for technology and Drizly is leading that charge by offering a technology platform that allows retailers to give their customers an online shopping experience and delivery in 45 minutes or less.
When I started my career as an investor, I said “My plan is not to be a high volume investor, but a high impact one instead.” What I’ve learned is that to be a truly selective Series A investor, ideas are important, but it’s really all about teams and people.
As an angel investor in Drizly, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Nick, Cory, Justin and many other members of the Drizly team for over 18 months. They are an incredibly tenacious and ambitious group. Nick, in particular, has a unique blend of confidence and deference that has allowed him to chart a course through an incredibly complex, regulated industry. Yes, he won the support of numerous investors (including me and my partners at Polaris) in this financing, but he’s also rallied an entire industry behind him.
When I invested in Drizly’s seed round there were three unique attributes I was excited about: the social nature of the product, retail excitement, and distribution allies. I believe those three ideas are proving themselves to be true and Drizly has significant tailwinds propelling it forward. What has transpired in the last year and what is truly remarkable about their business model is that Drizly has been embraced by key members of the industry as their desired eCommerce solution. Last week, the company announced a strategic alliance with the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA). The alliance expands Drizly’s presence with retailer partners across the country, enabling Drizly to serve more consumers and to provide those consumers with unparalleled choice and convenience.
Given the above, as well as a few other competitive advantages the company is in the process of securing (stay tuned), the decision to invest in Drizly’s Series A would seem like an easy one — and it was. But every decision process is unique and this one was no exception.
Nick and I got together in November of last year to discuss a potential Series A. Like any great entrepreneur, he pushed the conversation off, intending to drive a competitive dynamic after the New Year. In December, I broke my leg skiing, had surgery, and spent a month on my back. When I finally came to, I sent Nick the following by email,
“Hey, I was planning to be all over you after the new year, but I was in a really bad ski accident over Christmas. Broke my leg/knee and tore my ACL. Surgery. Can’t go home for another month. Anyway, I was serious when I said I was interested in leading or participating in any fundraise you do. I’m finally able to think. First thought was to reach out.”
Nick offered his sympathies and, naturally, advanced the game another turn. On my end, my injury really provided clarity. I had to clear the decks of things I couldn’t prioritize from a couch in Idaho and picked the one thing I cared about: Drizly.
Polaris is proud to be partners with a company that is using technology to transform a $100 billion industry and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team.