I haven’t written a Vino Endoxa post in a while though I’ve been privately working on one of its related projects which might really excite some people (still a secret). Last week I read an article in the New York Times and was motivated to spend more Endoxa time. The article that caught my eye was on the increasing popularity of the wine app Delectable. I haven’t followed the wine app space too closely and instead choose to have it filtered through my restaurant regulars. So I only check them out if they tell me about them, though no one has mentioned Delectable. I guess its not exactly mainstream yet.
Delectable has been attracting serious attention. They were able to raise three million in series A financing according to Tech Crunch. The money, according to the founder, is to tackle the large challenges I’ve described before. “Building the data set of every wine and ensuring highly accurate label recognition are just the beginning of enormous challenges we are addressing. This round of funding enables us to continue building the most talented team of engineers to ever work in this space.”
They are headed in the direction I want to be, but do they have any real vision? Do they know what is possible? It is hard to say from their various PRs. The app as it stands is very limited and I see its functionality being casually duplicated by google unless they can carve out more of a niche. One thing PRs mention is curated content from sommeliers. This can be great, but one problem is that sommeliers don’t always recognize quality for purpose or the polarized tastes of drinkers. Somms just don’t seem to understand commodity wines which are the bulk of market and are of staggering economic significance. An app just can’t focus on the top 1% of all wine. I also suspect some of the best content will arise organically from amateur super fans who want to support their beloved wines. A trick to engaging the super fan, I still feel, is gamification. Are you the mayor of Borolo? Trading content for the bragging rights of mayorship is key.
Something unique that supports my original premise is how valuable something as simple as location data can be. Are Orange wines that we keep reading about really a thing? Oh wow, they are, and they are truly drinking them in every major city. Oh they’re not and it doesn’t look they like they’re getting out of Williamsburg Brooklyn. This data alone can be worth the price of a modest subscription for a producer, and there are countless producers. Previous consumption data hasn’t been that reliable and wine writers have likely started trends rather than reporting on trends that were emerging organically. The entire nature of wine trends could possibly shift if an app hit critical mass.
Back to getting the data. One of the most powerful methods of getting the data is creating a tool that is useful to importers, distributors, and sales teams themselves. They see the wines first and many of these players are juggling over 20,000 skus (And often drowning in 20,000 skus). Simple input by one member of that group can benefit hundreds of super user employees within a single firm.
Many of my sales reps are specialists and only intimately know certain chunks of all their offerings (life is short and the art is long). They often don’t know what something in the catalog is like. When this happens they typically just offer to pull a sample and taste you on it. If more was known about the wines through reliable new description systems I’ve been positing, sampling costs could decrease significantly. The amount of savings could allow money for subscription costs and every incentive to input wines complete with descriptions by multiple professionals.
Business Insider noted how Delectable is built on a technology used to fight terrorism. In my previous Vino Endoxa posts, I claimed my technologies would be built on boundary pushing research used to data mine the phenomenology of perfumes. Perfume firms are large enough to conduct types of research wine firms cannot, but luckily they focus on similar types of problems. The latest and greatest ideas in perfumology are the secret to advancing wine.
The app space is getting interesting and I can’t wait to follow the progress. Who knows maybe I’ll give up distilling and join a wine startup?