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WineFriend: the wine buddy that delivers

31 May 2016

WineFriend: the wine buddy that delivers

An innovative wine company has been described as “primed for growth and investment” thanks to its focus on getting the basics of business right.

WineFriend, which launched late last year, is a subscription service that takes the hassle and guesswork out of choosing a great bottle of wine at a reasonable price. It is the first company of its kind in New Zealand, delivering a customised selection of wine to its subscribers, based on their individual taste preferences.

Co-Founder and CEO Debbie Sutton says the idea came about from her own experience of buying wine.

"Wine is the largest choice space in the modern grocery store. It's 10 times richer in terms of the number of options than breakfast cereals, the number two area, and much more complex. Wine buyers have never had it better in terms of the number of choices available from around the world - but they've never had it worse regarding the possibility of confusion and the pressure to find the perfect wine."
"For the everyday New Zealander, choosing a nice bottle of wine really isn't that easy. Worst of all, the place nearly all of us buy of our wine – the supermarket – is missing many of the real gems. We saw people standing in the wine aisle struggling to choose that night's bottle and thought “there must be a better way”.

Sutton's business partner and WineFriend’s chief tasting officer is Yvonne Lorkin, a trusted wine expert with a huge following across TV, radio and print. Lorkin tastes thousands of bottles of wine each year and it is this 'tasting library' that WineFriend draws on for its customers. WineFriend uses a simple eight question taste survey that gives insights in to a customer's thresholds for sweet, sour, bitterness and intensity of flavour. It then creates a profile which enables it to select wines that are tailored to the individual customer's tastes and delivers them to their door for around the same price as what they currently spend at the supermarket.

The taste profile also allows Lorkin to include a ‘wild card’ wine in every delivery to extend customers’ wine tasting experiences. It could be a new variety, style, region or producer that they probably haven't tried before but all with the framework of their individual taste preferences.

“There are hundreds of fantastic, small, boutique wine producers in New Zealand, and thousands around the world, and we're thrilled to be opening up a whole new route to market for them and to introduce our customers to wines that they wouldn't ordinarily see" says Lorkin.

WineFriend is a “unique and interesting” business with a promising future, according to Marc Van Den Heuvel from James & Wells.

The commercial and intellectual property law firm has worked with the company on everything from shareholder agreements to the terms and conditions on its website.

“We work closely with start up businesses from an early stage and always issue the same advice: get the basics right up front.

Unfortunately, but understandably, there are thousands of places to spend the initial time and capital resources available in this stage of the business lifecycle. Debbie and her team realised the importance of timely, quality advice and ensured a solid legal foundation,” Marc says.

“Doing so has enabled WineFriend to build mutually beneficial relationships with investors and customers. WineFriend is now primed for growth and investment.”

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