An innovative "humanist" crowdfunding system, which selects people before capital, tailor-made mixology recipes, openness to new markets, algorithms, big data and attention to sustainability.
Matteo Fornaca, co-founder: "What we are implementing is truly a change from a model in which there are few producers and billions of consumers, to a scenario in which potentially, in 2030, every bar, every starred restaurant will have its own products".
Word of Matteo Fornaca, Elisa Cravero and Matteo Dispenza , founders of the Turin startup The Spiritual Machine , which aims to innovate the beverage galaxy. A startup that is also a community, that of "I Botanici", which are not mere members, lenders or stakeholders, but the result of a " humanist crowdfunding ", which selects people, ideas and values before capital.
In fact, The Spiritual Machine has chosen a less traditional approach to raising capital, through "controlled" crowdfunding, which brings investors closer together, gathering not only economic resources, but experience and intelligence. " Ours is not just a fundraising process, but one of skills, market players, suppliers, professionals, which can be strategic for us. We aim to develop the business by combining different experiences and creating a common culture, which binds us on a plan of ideas and values ,” explains the founder of The Spiritual Machine Matteo Fornaca .
THE SPIRITS OF THE ITALIAN STARTUP ARRIVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Internationalization is one of the most relevant results produced by crowdfunding of "human capital", which is bringing The Spiritual Machine to the markets of Latin America and the Persian Gulf, where the spirits will arrive in the Arab Emirates, Qatar, Maldives, Seychelle, signing agreements with large international hotel chains. It might almost seem like a paradox to sell alcohol where there is a strong perception that it cannot be consumed, but market analyzes confirm instead that these are strategic, very receptive areas, because there are the headquarters of large corporations from Asia and the Middle East , cruise companies and many international brand hotel chains. Maldives and Seychelles are also large tourist hubs, which have their own procurement in Dubai.
An international expansion that also looks beyond the Atlantic, in particular to the Latin American world, a rapidly accelerating market, with growth rates of 5%. A continent with a young population, which sees Millennials and Generation X more attentive to a conscious consumption of alcohol, who prefer stronger flavours, drink less and better: therefore they look to made-to-measure drinks, where the tailor made spirit can be a product of great impact.
MIXOLOGY, THE INTEREST IN SPIRITS IS GROWING IN ITALY
In Italy, the world of mixology is shaping up as a growing trend, with increasing interest from both the consumer and the business world. A trend confirmed by the numbers of the startup The Spiritual Machine, with the company going from the five thousand bottles produced in 2019 to 80 thousand in 2022, despite the impact of the pandemic which has effectively paralyzed the entire sector. The target is to reach one million by 2025 and five million in 2027.
" The market is taking off, artisan productions are growing by 22.5% year on year ( source: Technavio report. Forecasts and Analysis 2022-2026) . The premium is growing and we see a demand for training, information and craftsmanship every day. It is a very fast change and I think the peak will be reached in the next four years, because what happened with beer will happen, in the sense that a few and small brands are acquired by the big ones. Today, craft beer constitutes 14% of the American market and the phenomenon is repeating itself in the same way on artisanal spirits as well ". Words from the CEO of The Spiritual Machine Elisa Cravero, who in a still very male sector, in agreement with the partners, has built a company with an 80% female team.
The growing interest in the spirits world on the part of consumers - looking for new products to have an increasingly personalized drinking experience - is also confirmed by the data relating to the recipes: in its three years of life, the startup has created over 150 proprietary recipes, to which are added the over 200 created in 2022 alone. A research and development work that will have its heart in The Spiritual Machine Lab, a laboratory where recipes for finished products can be created.
WHAT DO YOU DRINK? THE AI TELLS YOU
"Alembics" and test tubes that marry with technology, thanks to the partnership with the startup Vedrai, a company that develops solutions based on Artificial Intelligence to support SMEs, which closed a 40 million euro capital raising last April. This agreement will allow The Spiritual Machine to obtain forecasts of the consumption of various spirits on the global market 36 months in advance. Starting from these trends, the company is working on the creation of a predictive algorithm which, by aggregating sales data, market trends and community feedback, will make it possible to develop increasingly tailor-made recipes for a given audience or market segment.
ZERO EMISSIONS AND GEOTHERMAL DISTILLERIES
" All of us founders care deeply about sustainability ," says Fornaca . The commitment to sustainability is one of the fundamental points in the startup's development strategy, which has given itself a roadmap, with a series of objectives to be achieved year by year. Thus in 2022 The Spiritual Machine obtained the compensation of all CO2 emissions and aims in 2023 to have 50% of its production in recycled glass. In 2024, the agenda calls for working with carbon negative distilleries, such as those powered by geothermal energy which already exist in other countries and which are also being studied in Italy.
"In the world of spirits - concludes Fornaca - today there are enormous opportunities for innovation and a growing demand for novelties that are not always able to fully grasp. We are here to fill this gap. What we are implementing is truly a change from a model in which there are few producers and billions of consumers, to a scenario in which potentially, in 2030, every bar, every starred restaurant will have its own products. It is the great revolution of spirits ".
Public and market interest in Vermouth di Torino is growing, a highly topical European Geographical Indication and at the same time a product with three centuries of Piedmontese history.
An ancient Italian distillery and liqueur factory based in Finale Emilia (Modena) for over 200 years, Casoni has been producing liqueurs and spirits distributed in Italy and around the world.