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Aug 31, 2021

What do canned cocktails, psilocybin-infused gummies and sex tech have in common? They are all concepts that Vice Ventures has invested in.

A seed-stage venture capital fund, Vice Ventures describes itself as “conquering stigmas and striving towards superior returns by investing in good companies operating in ‘bad’ industries.” Launched in 2019 by former equities trader Catharine Dockery, Vice has drawn on its $25 million fund to make investments in 10 companies, including functional beverage brand Recess; Indose, a maker of precision-focused cannabis vaporizers; RTD espresso martini brand Deloce; and Lucy, which markets a line of “cleaner nicotine” gum.

In this episode, Dockery joined us for an expansive interview that delved into her interest in “vice” categories, her process for evaluating innovation and novelty and how the fund utilizes non-traditional data to make informed decisions. She also explained why she believes a shakeup in the distribution of alcoholic beverages is on its way, why she spends most of her day engaging in new business pitches and what it takes for a founder to get a second meeting.

Show notes:

0:42: Interview: Catharine Dockery, Founder, Vice Ventures -- Dockery spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about Vice Ventures’ atypical company retreat, how her father (along with Columbia professor Carl Hart) influenced her perspective on recreational drugs, how university studies in neuroscience and finance paved the way for her career, and the impact of previous career experience -- including a stint at Walmart and raising money for canned wine brand Bev -- had on launching her firm. She also discussed the unusual way that she raised capital for Vice Ventures, why family office “grandpas” buck at the idea of investing in vice categories, why the company’s data scientist researched meth use when evaluating an investment opportunity and the common threads in funding decisions. Later, Dockery explained what piques her interest in a first meeting and how she works with founders and operators to achieve their collective goals.

Brands in this episode: Bev, Deloce, Recess, Mojo, Wandering Barman, DRNXMYTH