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People are sick of drinking. Investors rely on the "sober curious"



I ordered a carrot and ginger bush and hoped it would be tasty. I was pleasantly surprised, drank it all and was, voila, not even tipsy. Even more exciting: my bill. For two drinks and a bread bowl it was only $ 15 – to absorb the soft drinks.

Getaway is a sober bar, a new kind of dry nightlife emerging in New York. The idea is to provide outlets for people who want to meet in a bar-like location, but do not have to drink alcohol.

They are part of a bigger trend. People pay more attention to their mental health and well-being, and many Americans are working hard to reduce their alcohol intake. People of all ages drink less beer, while millennials drink less. And Silicon Valley notes that technology companies are re-evaluating their alcohol policies and investors are trying to benefit from people who prefer not to drink.
"It's such a part of the culture, especially here in San Francisco, for which I would go out for dinner and two to three drinks a day," said Silicon Valley entrepreneur Justin Kan, CEO of the law-tech startup Atrium , to CNN Business. He said he has experienced a change in his technical circle lately. "I was at a dinner with many technicians last night and probably half the people did not drink."
Kan announced in a post on Twitter last month that he renounced alcohol. He called drinking an unhealthy habit that stood in the way of his experience of life. It was not uncommon for Kan to reveal personal details about himself: he once streamed his life through startup Justin.tv, which he co-founded in 2007, and eventually became Twitch, the popular live streaming platform for gamers now owned by Amazon

On the same day he tweeted, Kan started a group in the Telegram chat app to connect with others who had similarly decided to sober up on alcohol. He had not expected that more than 1

,000 people would join.

New products for the sober – and "sober curious"

The sales of alcoholic beverages declined, large alcohol companies, ranging from Heineken to AB InBev (the owner of well-known beer brands like Budweiser) see a chance : You invest in soft or low-alcohol drinks. Even start-up investors and entrepreneurs hope to be able to respond to the "sober curious" who, for reasons of well-being, reevaluate their relationship with alcohol and know how often they drink.

The emergence of sober bars is one of the signals that investor Anu Duggal points out when it comes to the trend not to drink. Duggal, who lives in New York, said she, like Kan, "notices a number of people who choose not to drink."

Duggal's Female Founders Fund, which supports well-known startups such as Rent The Runway, recently invested in Kin Euphorics.
Kins first product is a soft drink called "High Rhode". It is a part of adaptogen (a non-toxic plant that is claimed to reduce stress), a part of nootropics (a supplement supposedly supporting cognitive functions), and a part of botany. On its website, the company states that its statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and that its product is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease.

Kin is not a treat, but the reason why consuming his product is more of a "self-care". It wants to create a new market for products that do not contain alcohol but that are not loaded with sugar.

Kin is co-founded by Matthew Cauble, co-founder of the Silicon Valley start-up for meal replacement, Soylent, and Jen Batchelor, who serve as CEO. It has already attracted venture capital firms, such as Canaan Partners, Refactor Capital, Weekend Fund and Fifty Years, who want to invest in companies that use the business to solve the world's biggest problems. The company declined to disclose how much money it has received.

"Sober curiosity is a real thing," Batchelor told CNN Business.

Batchelor says Kin is trying to create more options for consumers. Many people feel that they either go out and drink alcohol or stay home alone. "If those are the two options, something is broken," she said. "You can do that & # 39; feel good & still be in a bar, and still get a customer out."

The company expects to launch its second product later this month.

Techs Complex Relationship with Alcohol

While investing in new alcohol-free businesses, Silicon Valley is also exploring its own relationship with alcohol.

Over the years, alcohol has been one of the strengths associated with technology and startup cultures, with young companies straining to collaborate with colleagues over a drink or more. The availability of alcohol in offices has inevitably been put to the test when companies come across flatter alcoholic incidents. One of the most memorable ones was when the startup of HR Services Zenefits banned alcohol consumption after allegedly finding cigarettes, beer mugs and used condoms on the company's stairwell.
  Kin believes that consumption of his product is more for

After coordinated strikes by employees and contractors in November over In response to sexual harassment allegations, Google announced a number of changes in its work culture, including the reduction of excessive alcohol consumption. "Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse, but one of the most common reasons for Google's harassment today is that the perpetrator drank alcohol (~ 20% of the cases)," the company added, adding that the workers to prevent excessive drinking. Some teams limit employees to two drinks per event.
WeWork, the monster of the cooperating community, said last October it is investigating curbing beer consumption in some of its New York City locations and limiting the number of members to four 12-ounce glasses of beer a day. Previously, WeWork offered unlimited draft beer as a perk for hiring co-working spaces. The company's corporate culture and the prevalence of alcohol at corporate events was called into question by a continuing lawsuit filed by a former employee.

Not drinking the hip

Kin is not the only novelty A brand that seeks to alleviate the stigma of drinking a soft drink that attracts the attention of start-up investors.

Last month, Liquid Death caused waves at the start. The startup applies the bold marketing of energy drinks to a drink that contains only water. The slogan is "Murder Your Thirst". Like its name on an alcohol brand, it has an age gate on its website that states, "This water can cause nightmares for people under the age of 18."

The idea is to make consumers look cool while staying hydrated, and for the unsuspecting eye, you never know they're dropping off simple H2O.

The original impulse, according to CEO and co-founder Mike Cessario: was for heavy metal and punk rock fans. But the ability to drink water from a can (which is more environmentally friendly than plastic) and look like you're drinking a beer or an energy drink has a broader appeal.

  The Slogan

Investors have already raised $ 1.6 million, including Science, an incubator and a technology studio, the company how Dollar Shave Club supports.

Los Angeles-based science partner Mike Jones Angeles told CNN Business that many years ago he decided not to drink alcohol. "There are many people in my circle who have chosen not to drink and to selectively decide what they put into their bodies," Jones said. "We are increasingly seeing an awareness of it."

Concerning Kan, he says it is difficult for him to unpack why he now sees a growing number of people who similarly stop drinking.

Is it part of aging (Kan is now 35 – in a completely different life) stage than his early years in Silicon Valley more than a decade ago)? A technology industry thing where engineers are constantly working on and iterating on themselves? Or is it a little wider? He recently pondered on a phone call.

Whatever it is, Kan, who also invests in startups, says he's not overly optimistic that non-alcoholic alternatives will take over. He said it was "very unlikely" that alcohol would be replaced on a large scale. "It's hard for me to see it disappear from the American zeitgeist."


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