A few weeks ago we met with Matt, co-founder and CEO of VINEBOX, in a coffee place in San Francisco.
I first discovered VINEBOX on a Facebook Ad (great targeting!) and contacted Matt immediately after because he was a great fit with our series on the startups in the wine industry.
VINEBOX is the first monthly wine by the glass club. Founded with a mission to bring exclusive wines from around the world to everyone, VINEBOX encourages discovery and the freedom for members to develop their palates without committing to an entire bottle. Although the initial memberships are sold out, when I met with Matt he mentioned additional spots may become available around Thanksgiving for the holidays! So stay tuned, I know I will!
A few days before our meeting, Vinebox was covered on Techcrunch as well.
Matt founded VINEBOX with Rachel and their story starts with a situation many of us have experienced: they were both working as corporate lawyers in New York and going out for drinks after work, dreaming and discussing… “how to get out of here”.
Soon Matt quit his job and moved to France: he worked in a winery in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande – La Tour De Chollet – for a few months for two reasons: getting into the wine world and practicing his French before doing an MBA at Insead. During his time at the business school in Paris and Singapore, he was already working on developing his idea: he had come across the vials in the picture above while working at the winery. He didn’t miss the opportunity to practice his pitch and see his schoolmates’ reactions and thoughts: he literally offered some tastings with VINEBOX at school.
The patented rebottling technology is quite advanced (it can run at 600 vials per hour) and guarantees taste and quality for three years on the shelves. In the beginning, the VINEBOX boxes will be imported from Europe, but there is already a plan for bottling in the US in the future. They even transfer the same font and style of the wine label to the vials, which makes it cool and meaningful as a consumer product.
Matt searched a co-founder among his schoolmates first and later among his friends in New York. Rachel was enthusiastic about the idea and eager to jump on board. After about 3,000 surveys, they decided to structure the offer as a monthly subscription with a box of three “glasses” per month.
Now they are already sold out for the first shipments (with some new spots opening up soon) and they are connecting with local retailers in San Francisco. They quickly learned that the conversion of a customer is very effective when you put the product in her/his hands. I wrote “her” first because the initial results were showing many female enthusiasts together with wine geeks attracted by the discovery experience.
It’s not easy to organize wine-themed tasting parties where everyone brings a bottle and you can taste a glass of each wine. VINEBOX helps with the procurement of rare wines even in remote towns.
Unfortunately, as you can imagine, the technology doesn’t allow the bottling of sparkling wine, so it won’t be easy to taste rare Champagnes. Let’s see if Rachel and Matt will find a solution for that in the future!
They are already learning a lot from their current customers and thinking of introducing recycling packaging in the future, as well as offering the option of receiving either the beautiful and elegant box or a more basic one. Indeed, many customers shared their concerns on receiving the original box every month.
The conversation with Matt was very engaging and time went fast. We both had to leave quickly and I closed the interview asking the usual question about his favorite wine and food pairing:
Saint Émilion Merlot Premier Cru with baguette and cheese.
How do you discover new wines?
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