Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Andre Eikmeier, co-founder and CEO of online wine community Vinomofo .
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Vinomofo is all about good wine, real people, and the most epic wine deals on the planet. From cult classics to indie gems handcrafted in the sheds of tomorrow's legends, we source and sell wines that we drink and love to our members.
There's no wine snobbery at the 'Fo. No bowties or bullshit. We have fun with wine. Our deals are the best wine deals on the planet. Whatever someone wants to spend on a wine — $5 or $50 — we'll give them a better wine at that price.
But you get more than deals at the 'Fo — we also share our wine discoveries, experiences, knowledge and passion with our community.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We've got a cash-flow positive model, so we've generally sold a wine before we have to pay for it — that was key to self-funding our initial growth. Then we partnered with The Catch Group, Australia's largest online shopping group, to accelerate our next phase of growth, tapping into their capital, resources and audience.
Now we're independent again, profitable and self-funding the growth. Through our time working with the founders of The Catch Group as part of their Sketchbook incubator program, we have taken away some powerful lessons in financial management, the importance of product and how to build a sustainable, profitable business.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
It's all about product — sourcing good deals on good wines. Without those good deals being out there, and without building and nurturing the supply relationships necessary to get hold of those deals, we wouldn't have a business. Wine is an agricultural business, so sustaining supply on a vintage where crops are down is a challenge.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
We're not trying to stock EVERY wine, and we're not trying to stock cheap, distressed inventory. Our range is highly curated, and we're a members-only site. We build relationships with our members, learn what they like, and offer those things to them. We're not just a big online warehouse full of commoditised wines.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Just one? I couldn't live without Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Google Docs and more, but if I had to pick one I'll say 15five.com. It's an awesome, simple team management tool that allows me to stay in tune with results, challenges, morale of each employee, every week.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Invest your marketing money in your product and your service. Get that right, and your customers will take care of your marketing for you.
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