Focus , grit and partnerships are the secrets to a successful new business, says co-founder.
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Start-up Garcon Wines is using a tried and tested delivery model to supply top-notch wines to customers via the post. Here, co-founder Joe Revell explains how the team proved the concept, found a manufacturer and marketed the business through digital and PR.
What's the business?
Using our specially designed bottles, we send wine to our customers through the postal system and directly through their letterboxes so they don’t need to be at home to receive a wine delivery.
Where did you get the idea for your business and why did you think there would be demand?
Garçon Wines started because my friends and I wanted to learn more about wine and decided to join an online wine club. However, due to the fact we were at work during the day, we were never at home to receive the courier delivery.
On one of the many times I knelt down to pick up the ‘missed delivery’ card from the courier, I noticed my neighbour’s Graze Box sat beside it and I thought, ‘why can’t that be done with wine?’.
Plot the growth story to today.
We have three co-founders - myself, Santiago Navarro and Rachel Murphy-Rutland. We launched recently but we already have thousands of potential customers who have registered their interest through our website.
Garcon Wines derived inspiration from other delivery businesses
What is your market sector like for new entrants?
Innovation on the consumer side of the wine industry is relatively low and as a result, when a truly innovative approach is introduced, there can be extreme interest and excitement from both inside the industry and throughout the general public.
The public interest we’ve had goes some way in proving that the problem of wine delivery is a real one and our solution is a valuable one.
Our aim is to be the first-choice service for quality wines that are conveniently delivered across urban areas.
What have been the major bumps in the road and how have you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge was developing a minimum viable product as the upfront costs of manufacturing high grade plastic bottles are high, predominantly because of the mold costs.
This, coupled with the fact that minimum order numbers in PET bottle manufacturing is often in the hundreds of thousands, made getting the physical product difficult without significant investment.
After struggling to progress manufacturing in the UK, we decided to use Alibaba Group’s b2b marketplace Alibaba.com to send out our requirements to hundreds of global PET bottle manufacturers.
We received a large number of proposals predominantly from Chinese factories and were impressed at how they offered both mold cost and minimum order numbers that were 90 per cent lower than we experienced in the UK.
Ultimately, we were able to get our product without significant investment and begin building the momentum we have today.
How have you marketed the business?
We have a digital marketing strategy, but without doubt our most valuable approach has been PR. We have had huge interest from global press on our bottles and editorial coverage is proving very successful in driving traffic signups to our website.
As they say, a picture tells a thousand words and the lifestyle images of our bottles in-situ with food etc., helped get us some great coverage because they’re bright, engaging and interesting.
Wine is delivered in plastic bottles that are easy to store
This, coupled with having had the opportunity to appear on Alibaba and CNBC’s ‘Pop-up Start-up’ show has really helped– driving awareness of who we are as a business, and what we aim to achieve.
What the hardest thing about running your own business and what makes it fulfilling/fun?
The most fulfilling thing is building a product that can shape innovation within the delivery sector and make wine lovers’ lives more convenient.
Running your own business is full of ups and downs, so it’s really important to remind yourself of the ups when having a tricky day.
What sets your business apart from the rest and how have you nurtured that point of difference?
There is no other business offering through the letterbox delivery of full sized bottles of wine, so we are particularly innovative within the industry. Wine deliveries can be a huge inconvenience for those that work and aren’t at home to receive them.
Our bottles solve this issue and is our core point of difference, something we have highlighted to the market and has generated significant interest.
How do you rate government support for growing businesses and why?
The Government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) & Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) are particularly great schemes to attract seed investment without all of the risk associated with early stage startups.
What are your top three tips for people starting a business today?
Just do it – a bit of a cliché and certainly easier said than done as there are always a whole host of hurdles in the way of starting a business, but you have to start somewhere!
Keep plugging away – building a startup really is a rollercoaster ride, and we’ve had some real challenges which ground our progression to a snail’s pace. In these situations, it can be very tempting to lose motivation and start focusing on other things…try to stay focused and you’ll get there!
Contacts are important, work hard to meet the right people who will champion and support your business, whether they’re investors, mentors, partners or suppliers.