This is no stuffy wine-and-cheese party at the Country Club… This is Club W, a brand new wine club and retail site for the contemporary set – a collective of easygoing, affable, stylish drinkers with perhaps a tad more class than cash. This club’s all about bringing fantastic but lesser-known wines at a great value out of obscurity and right into your home. Club W is a revolutionary online business model for a new breed of current, connected consumers. This club does more than just send great wines you might never have tasted right to your door: it educates and unites curious wine-lovers, and popularizes lesser-known boutique vineyards and brands. Club W is about the simple joy of sharing wine with friends and reminding us to give strange and unfamiliar (grapes) a try.
MO: How did you come up with the name Club W?
Mark: We wanted to create a community of people that loved wine but hated the snob factor. We wanted it to be a place that people could come and feel the fun and excitement that we felt when we had a passionate wine maker tell us their story. The name ClubW just felt like a natural extension of that feeling.
MO: How did you ever manage to take your initial concept to shipping the product in less than 90 days? That’s a remarkable turnaround!
Mark: I was actually sitting in the office of major national distributors office the other day and he said “The wine business is no longer about passion, or even good wine. It’s about Money, end of story” We decided that ClubW could help change that. Exposing the public to small, sustainable and passionate winemakers. Once we realized what was happening in this particular segment of the industry we know we had to act fast. Collectively our founding team has started over 15 companies, so we knew the drill. However, 90 days is a sprint and it took a lot of sleepless nights from our team.
MO: How much experience did you have in the wine industry before deciding to start Club W? What was your source of inspiration?
Mark: Geoff and I had been in the food and beverage business in some capacity for 7 years. We had a deep network of sommeliers and producers to draw on. Xander’s back round is in technology but he has been a wine enthusiast all his life.
MO: Club W was launched in August. How easy has it been to attract customers? What kind of marketing tools have you used and how do you keep people coming back? We are the first company to offer monthly credits for referring new costumers.
Mark: Once people receive their first shipments and try our wines they tell everyone they know, which we try and make easy by having Facebook and Twitter integration on the site. Referrals have been the single largest source of new business but over the coming year you will see lot’s of partnerships with likeminded companies.
MO: Why do you think it’s important to tell the winemakers stories in a way that is true to their art and brand?
Mark: It’s hard to truly appreciate something without understanding it. When you hear the stories and see the passion that these people put into the product that you get to enjoy it truly makes the experience better.
MO: What are your current plans for expansion? Has customer feedback influenced how you plan to develop Club W?
Mark: We plan on attracting 100,000 active users on the site in 2012, while launching features that are totally new to the wine buying experience. Customer feedback is totally fundamental to our business model. The advent of the Internet has created more choices than ever before (look at Blockbuster), if you’re not listening to your customers, and trying to be one step ahead of them, your days are numbered.
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