Distill Ventures Team


Shilen
Patel

Partner & Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder of Independents United, investor, advisor and mentor at Doing Something, Collider12 and Beem amongst others.

Shilen began his career in strategy consulting working on projects for blue chip clients across 3 continents before moving to the strategy department at Guinness. He then moved to Ireland as Marketing Controller Guinness where he was part of a team that turned around over 20 years of decline in the Guinness brand by employing disruptive new marketing techniques. In 2002, Shilen left to found Marinate, a marketing innovation consultancy working for brands such as Diesel, Nike, Lynx/Axe and Orange.

Following the success of this business he co-founded Independents United with Frank in 2006 and has since worked extensively with a number of startups helping them to build and grow their businesses. He has a passion for fabulous food, delightful drinks and scary skiing.


Frank
Lampen

Partner & Chief Tasting Officer, Co-Founder of Independents United, non-executive director of Doing Something, investor and mentor Collider12.

Frank began his career in TV, working for BBC, ITV and Channel 4 where he was part of the team that developed and launched E4. He left to pursue interests in digital media, consulting and starting his own businesses. After working on projects for Nike, BT and MSN, and consulting for companies including Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Retail, he co-founded Independents United with Shilen in 2006.

Frank works extensively with the companies in Independents United's portfolio of investments, helping develop business strategy, consumer propositions, launch plans and team development. He blogs about food and drink at frankaboutfood.co.uk


Dan
Gasper

Partner & Programme Director Dan began his career with Allied Domecq, working initially in on-trade sales and then moving into marketing where he developed a variety of innovative on trade mechanics, including one of the first brand-led bartender training courses. He then played a key role in modernising the Courvoisier brand before moving to a commercial role at José Cuervo International, managing their distribution partners across Europe. In 2008 Dan moved away from the corporate world to co-found a startup which he built to £2m+ in annual revenue.

More recently Dan has helped develop over 40 businesses in a wide variety of sectors (from spirits and street food, to lingerie and brand licensing). The combination of large company and entrepreneurial experience gives Dan a broad range of skills across brand and business strategy, capable of developing businesses at either Seed or Growth stage.

Dan has a passion for all things entrepreneurial and of a weekend can be found hunting down the very best libations and tastes that London’s food and drink entrepreneurs have to offer. Or he’s in the Lake District, half way up a mountain, escaping it all.


Patrick
McMeekin

Programme Manager Patch started out in consumer goods, trade marketing luxury professional haircare at L'Oreal. He then qualified as a financial advisor following three years in financial services, marketing alternative investments. In 2012, Patch founded Dicky Fox, a business helping prepare and place professional athletes into jobs after sport. This experience whet his entrepreneurial appetite and Distill Ventures provides the perfect avenue through which to channel it.

If the sun shines and his Saturdays aren't spent going backwards in a scrum, Patch will hop on his Royal Enfield motorcycle that he had shipped over from India following an England Cricket tour.


Diageo Partners


Helen
Michels

Helen is Global Innovation Director for the Futures Team at Diageo - the team tasked with identifying and developing new and discontinuous growth opportunities for the company. She has 20 years' experience in brand marketing and product innovation, working in businesses such as GSK and Nestle and also has experience working agency-side in advertising. In her 12 years at Diageo, Helen has worked across a number of different markets in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. She has played a significant role in growing the Diageo innovation team from a 'one-man band' into a global function of 120 people. She has worked on a variety of innovation launches across most spirit categories. Helen enjoys good food, drink and friends - preferably together.


James
Ashall

James is Innovation Marketing Manager in the Futures Team at Diageo - working to develop and launch discontinuous growth opportunities for the company. He has 10 years' experience in consumer goods have been across brand marketing, innovation and supply chain within Unilever and Diageo.

In his 5 years at Diageo, James has focused on new brand development and launch marketing, working across a number of developed and developing markets. James was instrumental in launching a number of disruptive format innovations across Western Europe. More recently he has lead the innovation agenda in Russia & Eastern European launching a selection of new to world brands into the region.

James is a big travel fan over the summer months, but for the majority of the year he will be found leading his team onto the hockey field or to the bar for some post game refreshment.

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