The bear market has hit many Web3 companies hard, showing the importance of having a sustainable revenue stream outside of boom-bust cycles. One company that believes this wholeheartedly is Degen Distillery, formed in 2022, as the hype from the last bull started to die down.
Founded by two serial entrepreneurs with serious track records, Degen Distillery aims to disrupt the spirits industry, putting the power (and ownership) back into the hands of the “Degeneration” or its community. Starting with a vodka brand and NFT collection, it has cemented two high-profile partnerships with BrewDog and Google, and is poised for an interesting 2024.
In this Sniper Spotlight, we interviewed CEO and Co-Founder Sammy Verghese about Degen Distillery’s ecosystem and plans for this year — and the years to come. From the company’s origins on a Mexican beach to its unique “Social Distribution” idea, here is the full interview.
Read till the end for a surprise Degen Distillery opportunity.
Could you introduce yourself and the role you play at Degen Distillery?
At the age of 18, I co-founded my first venture in the Oil & Gas sector whilst completing a law degree, successfully growing the company’s revenue to $30 million through strategic moves such as securing substantial bank loans for a fleet of ships. However, facing challenges amid market fluctuations, I experienced a forced exit.
Subsequently, I co-founded a Web2 marketplace which hit 30,000 users in its first month and then co-founded one of the UK’s fastest-growing events companies, hosting 650 events annually by the end of the second year. Additionally, I then took over and revitalized a struggling music venue/nightclub, elevating it to become one of the top five music venues in the UK, collaborating with renowned artists like Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Chase & Status, Stormzy, Idris Elba, and others.
In a series of successful turnarounds, I took charge of failing pub/restaurants, immediately turning them around and helped orchestrate the transformation of a struggling music festival from 6,000 to 15,000 tickets. Over and above that, I’ve advised multiple Web2 & Web3 businesses and [become] a (relatively) successful angel investor. In 2017, I entered the world of crypto, moving [to it] full-time in April 2020.
My role at Degen Distillery is Co-Founder & CEO, which really means I take care of everything imaginable and more.
What is the origin story for Degen Distillery — how did it begin?
Well, as no good story starts with “I had a glass of milk,” our story starts with Tom [Webster] getting drunk on a Mexican beach…
Tom is my business partner and long-term friend. We met as rivals 12 years ago as nightclub promoters and ever since we’ve been friends.
After successful careers founding multi-award winning events companies, a Web2 SaaS business that processes £100 million+ per year, music venues and pub/restaurants as well as being part of the team behind some of the UK’s major festivals, working with some of the biggest music artists in the world, founding rapid growth tech companies, and even stints as a Chairman of a Football (soccer for the American readers) Club, we’ve been around the block.
From dreaming up the radical new concept whilst drunk on a Mexican beach, we found ourselves asking a crucial question that resonated instantly. It sparked an idea: “Why not merge our expertise in hospitality and technology to launch a Distillery collaboratively crafted with the input of thousands of individuals worldwide?”
And that is how Degen Distillery was born.
What perks are there for holders of the ORIGO Origins NFT collection?
ORIGO Origin is an NFT that unlocks the Degen Distillery ecosystem, as well as a bridge to claim physical products released by the Degen Distillery team. Owning one of the 655 ORIGO Origin rewards you with perks and benefits in both the digital and physical worlds including access to our “Social Distribution” concept, an ability to license any NFT in your wallet for use on our bottles, access to exclusive artist editions and partner ranges, access to some of the worlds biggest events, festivals and much much more.
Aside from vodka, what other spirits do you have planned for the brand in the future?
721 Vodka is our first spirit (named after ERC-72, the main NFT token standard). Once our genesis product is fully live, we’ll be opening the future product lines up to co-creation. Essentially, this means that community members will decide whether we produce gins, tequilas, rums, whiskeys, or expand our ranges into flavor variations.
Luckily with BrewDog as our partners, we have access to huge capacity and the worlds only carbon-negative physical distillery.
What is “social distribution” and what role will it play for people who interact with your brand?
Our vision is to disrupt the current spirits industry by transcending traditional business models, by empowering individuals to co-create together with Degen Distillery and have a say in the “next big thing.” With the help of blockchain and the help of our innovative blockchain structure, we want to transform, inspire, and empower a new generation of creators, disruptors, and innovators to co-create one of the worlds biggest spirits brands whilst taking part in a radical social experiment.
Thus, we act as a “social distribution” project and empower our community members to play a decisive role in determining when and where Degen’s distilled products are distributed. We want to blend the digital and physical, leveraging a passionate community, and make holding the NFT more appealing than selling.
At Degen Distillery, we invite individuals and companies to infuse their creativity into our venture, whether through unique bottle designs, music for advertising, or other contributions to product promotion and distribution.
Could you explain more about $DRINK and how it will be used in your ecosystem?
The $DRINK token serves as the backbone of our community. The multifaceted use case of the $DRINK token is the key to unlocking a number of benefits, in both the digital and tangible world. Designed as the ultimate utility unlock within our digital experiences, physical venues, and partner events, $DRINK will be at the heart of our global growth plans.
But as well as being used across a whole host of Web2 and Web3 platforms to purchase products and get access to exclusive events. We have engineered a model that allows us to provide value from the underlying success of the physical product back into the growth and adoption of the token. More information coming soon on that one!
What is the unique value proposition of Degen Distillery — what makes the company special?
The unique part is definitely the “Social Distribution” model. Affiliate programs have been done successfully countless times, but allowing ownership of the revenue streams individuals create hasn’t. With individuals looking for more asset ownership in their lives as well as being owners of their own time, I think we’re uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of a new era of tech businesses.
If you want to get a little more technical, we truly believe we’re pioneering not only ERC-6551 as a token standard, but NFTs and token models as a whole. We’ll be releasing a lot more information in an upcoming whitepaper soon, so stay tuned!
How has Degen Distillery handled the bear market — any lessons learned?
I think the biggest lesson learned from the bear market is that Web3-based companies need a sustainable revenue model that isn’t dependent on [bull and bear markets]. As anyone who’s run a start-up can tell you, having a business that’s almost fully reliant on a 4-year cycle of boom and bust isn’t sustainable in the long term and vastly increases a businesses chance of failure.
We were in a unique position during the bear that still allowed us to attract multi-billion dollar partnerships including BrewDog, Google (more to be announced) as we essentially built Degen Distillery to be bear market proof.
The plan is to use Degen Distillery as a trojan horse for our technology whilst also providing a long-term and predictable revenue stream to forecast growth. So whilst we are planning on opening our technology as a platform for other businesses to leverage and utilize, our biggest lesson has been that businesses that are fully dependent on the Bitcoin or Ethereum price going up are inherently risky. That’s why you’ve seen Pudgy Penguins rally so hard.
Does your team have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2024 and, if so, what are they?
Simple. To be the world’s fastest-growing spirits brand. Are you in or are you in?
When you talk two-three years out, what do you hope will be the impact Degen Distillery makes?
Degen Distillery is more than just a spirits brand. It’s a brand that empowers its community to take true ownership in the value they create from ‘design to distribution’ by tokenising that value on-chain through our use of ERC-6551 NFTs.
So I guess the two to three-year vision is to have built Degen Distillery to be the worlds fastest growing distillery as a proof of concept for our model and technology whilst changing the lives of our community for the better. That will allow us to open the door into thousands of companies across the world to leverage our platform and also improve the lives of their teams and communities.
Talk about your team — what is a day in the life of a team member?
We’re a lean team at the moment, and that’s the way we like it. Each day is totally different from setting up supply chains to legals to token launches to community management. The beauty for our team is there’s always something new and exciting to tackle and we love solving problems.
Where can our readers find you?
We’re across Discord, X, Instgram, e-mail, and more. The best place to find all relevant links and more information is through the Degen Distillery website.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One of the distinct value propositions of our model is forecastable and sustainable rapid growth that’s not dependent on bull market[s] or bear market[s] and short-lived hype cycles. Our ability to rapidly grow revenues through physical product sales, allows us to grow outside of general crypto market conditions. That’s why we’re building both a tech-enabled Distillery and a full tech company at the same time. We’ve learned from the mistakes of countless others who have walked this path and relied on the price of Bitcoin or Ethereum going up forever.
On another note, we’re now looking to expand our community to begin the roll out of the Distillery. We’re driven by innovation, not iteration, and we’re looking for individuals who don’t only seek the next big thing but want to help co-create it. If that’s you, then we welcome you to join the Degeneration.
So, this Monday at 3pm UTC Degen Distillery is opening a Community Sale and will run it next week until Friday 16th at 3pm UTC. Anyone can go to token.degendistillery.com to create their own referral code/link. Community members will receive a 5% bonus in tokens for whatever they are able to raise through their link.
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