A lot of people ask me where the idea for Find Wine came from. The answer, rather boringly, is that I don’t really know. It came out a lot of conversation between me, John and plenty of other people, the most influential of which was Mike Awin from ABS Wine Agencies, who has always been a great believer in what we are trying to do with Find Wine.
However throughout all of our planning there was one case study that we kept coming back to as the best online wine merchant and that was Naked Wines.
For those of you that don’t know about Naked Wines it is another purely online merchant, however the idea behind Naked is to take a lot of dead weight out of the supply chain in the wine trade. So instead of buying their wine traditionally through importers and agencies, they go straight to the vineyard and offer them cash upfront in order to produce wines that Naked can market, this saves wine makers spending lots of money travelling the world promoting their wine…money which eventually finds it’s way into the price of the bottle. This innovative form of buying twinned with a very strong website based around a social network of customers recommending wine to other customers has produced a seriously successful wine company in a very short period of time.
Recently Naked have even gone one step further and begun asking their customers to stump up the cash to pay for the wines before it is even produced. Despite much muttering and doubting they have pulled it off and have ,apparently, queues of people clammering to buy wine that hasn’t even been made…now that is customer loyalty that I wish I had!
Therefore I was fascinated to read a recent article in the Telegraph about some of figures involved in the world of Naked Wines. 78,000 active users, sales double from £4m to £9m in a year, 1,000 new customers a week.
The man behind this fast growing force is Rowan Gormley, one time employee of Richard Branson. Origionally a consultant with Bain and Co, Rowan was asked to look into the idea of Virgin Trains, soon after he was running Virgin Money. Then apparently after much persuasion Richard Branson agreed to let him set up Virgin Wines. It was the Virgin philosophy of “disrupting” an industry that has clearly inspired Rowan to come up with a novel and successful new model to buy and sell wine or “wine venture capital” as he calls it.
Naked are most certainly doing a fantastic job of shaking up the wine trade and I will certainly be keeping an eye their success as it grows and grows. And trying to work out how I can even begin to compete!