Swiss wine subscription site looks to raise money through crowdfunding

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Crowdfunding could enable Swiss online wine subscription service Wiine.me to incorporate an innovative online wine education platform, The Wine Academy, into its offering.

Wiine.me chief executive, Timothée Bardet, sees crowdfunding as an effective strategy to earn necessary funds and more importantly to gather customer feedback about the new project. “The main reason we chose crowdfunding over investors is that crowdfunding allows us to build our client base and to get feedback about the new course offering,” he said.

Originally operated as Discovery Box, the wine subscription service employs a team of sommeliers to create two- or three-bottle “wine boxes” delivered monthly to subscribers. In July of last year, increasing customer demand led Wiine.me to add an educational component to its offering, including group courses and tastings specially tailored to the wine shipments. “All of our customers expressed interest in learning about the wines at some point, they didn’t feel wine tasting was enough and wanted something more,” said Bardet.

Initially the Wine Academy operated as a series of courses and tastings where interested parties could be educated by trained sommeliers in physical classroom settings. However, increasing enrollment numbers required plans for a digital classroom. Champagne Ambassador and Wiine.me sommelier Kat Morse said: “With the wine discovery service, so many people wanted courses but there just wasn’t the time to teach everyone. With the online academy we can reach everyone.”

The company operates in eight countries, mostly within the EU, with plans to launch in the US in 2015 and also China, allowing customers across the globe access to wine deliveries and education. “Wine knowledge is a mark of status in China,” said Bardet. “We are hoping to be successful there.”

The aim of Wiine.me is to give consumers access to wines from lesser known wine producers in New and Old World wine regions and work towards getting rid of the “dusty” impression many consumers have of old world wines.  “We are not looking for big names. We want the up and coming, interesting producers that show people great wines at affordable price points,” said Morse. “Anybody can buy a €50 bottle of wine, but to get quality at €15 is hard. We want to show people that it can be done.”

The online offering will include interactive videos, live participation with skilled sommeliers and links to external sources including podcasts, videos and books by other authors and professionals in the wine trade. The crowdfunding campaign, which began on June 2 and will run to the end of the month, has currently raised over €3,000.

 “We are quite confident because word is just starting to spread. Some of the perks are quite high, such as private tastings and champagne tours,” said Bardet. “We are confident in achieving a good following.”

More information on the innovative online wine services is available at the Wiine.me website: http://www.wiine.me/.

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