Low-alcohol aperitifs maker Haus pledged transparency in its effort to disrupt an alcohol industry it said hasn’t evolved since Prohibition and continues to be dominated by huge liquor companies. It’s doing the same in announcing its own demise.
The three-year-old startup, which uses fruits, herbs and botanicals to make aperitifs like Pomegranate Rosemary, Lemon Lavender and Grapefruit Jalapeño, said it was on the verge of closing a $10 million Series A funding round that failed to materialize when the lead investor backed out.
Helena Price Hambrecht, co-founder and CEO of Haus, told TechCrunch the investor was Modelo and Corona brewer Constellation Brands. The alcohol giant left the deal at the last minute without any specific reasoning other than “timing,” she told the publication. Food Dive has reached out to Constellation for comment.
In a series of tweets, Price Hambrecht said because of the decision, Haus did “not have the cash to support continued operations” and was in the process of closing. Shoppers, she said, had about another month to stock up on its products.
Little is known about why Constellation may have decided not to move forward with the investment. Its venture group has been actively investing in small alcohol brands similar to Haus as a part of its broader commitment to devote $100 million to women-led or -founded start-ups by 2028.
Just this week, Constellation acquired a minority stake in premium canned wine brand Archer Roose for an undisclosed amount. And in April, Constellation bought the remaining stake in Austin Cocktails, a female-founded ready-to-drink cocktail company based in Texas. It first invested in Austin in 2018.
Haus seemed to be in a good position to attract investments as consumers continue to look for different options when they imbibe and increased transparency in what they eat and drink. The startup has made a name for itself by working with aperitifs it says have the complexity of a cocktail but are low enough in alcohol content; they are stronger than wine but lighter than whiskey. In addition to using real fruits and botanicals while eschewing artificial flavors, Haus includes nutrition facts and complete ingredient lists for every product.
The company has raised more than $17 million from more than a hundred individual investors and funds since its founding in 2019, according to Business Insider.
Haus thrived during the pandemic, with online sales soaring as consumers spent more time at home. But as the lingering health crisis slowed the return of social gatherings, the company struggled. Sales doubled in 2021 from the previous year, Business Insider noted, but the growth rate has since declined.
"It's possible that someone will buy Haus in its entirety, and it can continue on under new ownership," Price Hambrecht said in a tweet. "It's also possible that it will be sold for parts."