After Establishing Online Platform, Provi Looks to the Future
November 15, 2022
After college, Taylor Katzman, CEO of Provi, joined a technology startup to help scale the company's sales arm. When it was acquired, Katzman moved to Chicago so his wife and father-in-law could start Rhine Hall Distillery, a fruit brandy distillery.
"It was then that I realized this enormous, and complex, industry is operating through pen-and-paper and there was a huge opportunity to better connect buyers, distributors and suppliers using technology."
One of the first employees for Drizly, Katzman's job was to scale their go-to-market in the Midwest. He said the job helped him learn how to turn an idea into a solution to help the overarching growth of the sector. He started Provi in 2016, fusing his backgrounds in beverage and technology to simpli- fy the process of ordering wholesale alcohol by connecting buyers, distributors and suppliers. With its online marketplace, the company streamlines the beverage ordering process between retailers and distributors via its communication system, allowing restaurants, bars and stores to order their beverages.
Other digital solutions have sprung up attempting to bridge the efficiency gap between the three tiers. But Provi claims to be the largest online marketplace, growing from one buyer in its early years to 10% of on-premise buyers in the U.S. They have 1,500 distributor customers with 15,000 distribu- tor sales reps using the technology each month. The company has received a total of $150 million in funding and, earlier in 2021, was valued at $750 million. Investors include D1 Capital Partners, Nosara Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, among others.
"The investment we received to-date enables us to onboard experts to help us build a better solu- tion and create more connectivity for the industry," he said.
Lately, it seems like every month the company is onboarding a new high-profile hire or announcing a promotion, building a roster of beverage and technology industry veterans. Earlier this year Provi brought on Erica Golden, who spent 13 years at Apple, as the senior vice president of people. David Wojnar, who was previously at the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), also joined the team. Last month, Andrew Levy, a former Facebook executive and beverage industry veteran, was promot- ed to senior vice president of strategy, and David Herman, who served in leadership roles at Chewy, Amazon, and Hulu joined the company as chief product officer. At the start of 2022, Provi joined forces with SevenFifty, another B2B marketplace with a unique approach from Provi. While Seven- Fifty excelled with their distributor tools and offerings, Provi set out to build the best possible mar- ketplace experience for buyers, explained Katzman. The focus is now building out the best tools and resources under one marketplace solution.
"We are also going to continue to innovate tools for distributors built on SevenFifty's technology," he said. "What unities the distributor tools and the marketplace is a shared database- the largest and most up to date in the industry."
Like Drizly's BevAlc Insights, Provi has also dug into its rich database to provide context behind buy- ing trends through its reports and blog. A quarterly report it published last month
(https://www.provi.com/[company-news][beverage-alcohol-buying-trends-reflective-of-growing-consumer-consciousness-ac]- cording-to-provi-pulse-report?) illustrated the impact of increased consumer demand for no and low-alco- hol, sustainable and organic products, and products from brands owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color entrepreneurs.
But its growth hasn't been without challenges. In April, Provi filed a complaint (https://www.bevnet.com/[spirits][legal-experts-provi-suit-against-distributors-a-major-antitrust-case])against South- ern Glazer's Wine and Spirits and Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC), alleging that the companies have unlawfully stifled the growth of its platform. The complaint alleged that the defen- dants have acted together and individually to "boycott, disparage and tortiously interfere with Provi's business." Provi defended (https://www.brewbound.com/[news][legal-update-provi-continues-antitrust-fight-upslope]- sued-over-electrolyte-infused-hard-seltzer/) the antitrust lawsuit in July, after Southern Glazer's and RNDC filed a motion to dismiss it, describing Provi as a disgruntled "online matchmaker" whose business relies on distributors. The CEO declined to comment on ongoing legal matters.
Meanwhile, the company is building more partnerships- part of the goal to offer deeper services to some of its customers and connect with the hospitality industry.
"It's somewhat challenging, especially on the heels of the global pandemic, for suppliers to navigate how to optimize their reach to on-and-off premise buyers," he said.
Katzman sees the platform's marketing services for suppliers as contributing to the omnichannel trade marketing strategy necessary for companies to optimize their presence in the evolving digital landscape. Alliances include a partnership with BevStrat, a sales and consulting firm that advises small and emerging brands, that will leverage Provi's tools to showcase products online and BevS- trat's on-the-ground approach.
As he looks to the future, Katzman is also looking to improve Provi's products and solutions, citing Herman's leadership as central to mapping out what new features the company can bring in for a better marketplace experience.
"In the last six years we've been able to make great strides, but we've really just scratched the sur- face," he said. "There is still so much work to be done in terms of digitally transforming and modern- izing the space."