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Tampa software firm aims to be the ‘Nielsen of the beverage alcohol industry’

Margie Manning



Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

Proof Network Ventures wants to bring data science to the global beverage alcohol industry.

The Tampa company is collecting information that will provide insights to those who make, distribute and sell products and help them make better decisions, said CEO Alex Miningham.

Data is increasingly important in the global beverage alcohol industry, with a $1.3 trillion market value in 2015, a white paper from Proof Network Ventures said.

In the United States, there’s a three-tier system of producers and suppliers, distributors and wholesalers, and retailers, with regulations that preclude members of one tier from having an ownership interest in any of the other tiers. That’s led to fragmented single-tier technologies, information silos and poor data quality, according to the white paper, which spells out Proof Network Ventures’ plans for growth.

The company, which raised $900,000 in the fourth quarter of 2018 and was featured in the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, plans a larger Series A funding this year for an aggressive acquisition strategy.

Alex Miningham

“Our mission is to own and control the underlying technology ecosystem that powers the industry and the data pipeline that controls it, with the end goal of becoming the Nielsen for the beverage alcohol industry,” Miningham said. “In order to do that, we believe that acquiring and rolling up the industry in a strategic way to consolidate, to control the technology to capture that data — whether it’s wholesale or consumer purchase data or supply chain data —all of that is valuable and we can make sense of it through data science.”

Miningham is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded and sold companies in the higher education and travel industries. After he sold his second company, Discount Park and Ride, he started 150 Elm, a data science company focused on wineries. That company eventually acquired a partner, Tipsi, an ecommerce solution that integrates with point of sales systems at retail beverage alcohol stores.

The combined company now operates under the Proof Network Venture umbrella, which Miningham described as “a venture studio for the alcohol industry,” that builds, scales and acquires software and technology products within the sector.

Two products are currently in the market.

BevCon is the largest database in the world for beer, wine and spirit products, while Tipsi is an ecommerce solution for beverage retailers to create a web or mobile online store.

“Small or medium-size beverage retailer online store typically have only a handful of products. To get the SKUs [stock-keeping units, or unique identifiers for each product] online they have to manually insert the product content, so they typically only look at the highest-grossing items and get those products on their website,” Miningham said. “What our solution allows them to do is put all of their 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 SKUs [in their inventory]on the website with relative ease. This opens up the entire store to the digital shopper.”

The two products are in use at 250 stores across the U.S., with 500 more stores in the U.S. and Southeast Asia expected to come online this year through partnerships.

Proof Venture Networks also plans to offer data consulting, an online wholesale purchasing platform, a point of sale system, a supply chain solution and a blockchain-enabled product that would integrate everything the company offers.

Proof Venture Networks has a staff of about 20 people, with Miningham and most of the management team in Tampa. The company also has offices in New York, Philadelphia and Maryland, and some staff is overseas.

Miningham plans to use some of the new capital for strategic hires in management.

He’s a big fan of Tampa, where the company is headquartered.

“With what [Jeff] Vinik is doing and Channelside and new development schools popping up, particularly in St. Pete, I think there’s going to be a huge influx of technology and intellectual property coming to this area, which will bring capital with it. I’m very bullish on Tampa long term,” Miningham said. “I personally would like to generate more buzz around the startup scene in Tampa. I think there’s a lot of potential. We may not be there yet, but I think we’re well on our way.”

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