An interview with Andre Eikmeier, Co-founder and CEO, Vinomofo
Why did you feel the traditional approach to buying wine needed disrupting?
For us, it was about the attitude towards wine. The wine world was in many ways conservative elitist and intimidating. A whole younger generation wasn’t being included. Both Justin and I have always been wine-nerds, we love the stuff. We are educated on the stuff, but even we felt intimidated by the current wine landscape at the time and we both thought ‘if we feel this way, how does the rest of the population feel’?
We wanted to create a wine world without all the bowties. Something that opened up this industry and threw elitism out the window. We wanted to create a tribe of people, or mofos as we call them, who loved good wine, who could talk about good wine in a real, raw and human way.
How sustainable is the model?
Our model wasn’t exactly sustainable initially. Well, let’s say it was very useful to people who had a stock/cash flow problem and good wine. It was VERY good for wine consumers, and solved a short-term problem for wine producers, but not a long-term one. Since then, we’ve opened up our proposition and now producers can really grow their businesses with us.
How do you stay innovative?
Stay paranoid. Always be looking outside at what people are doing, what they are responding to, what problems they have. And look inside, always, with humility, and ask yourself if you’re still the very best solution to their problems. Disrupt yourself, as they say, or someone else will.
How did Vinomofo come about?
Short version: My brother in law (Justin) and I got drunk on Christmas Eve 2006 and decided to start a business together. Created Qwoff, a wine community/review site, which we tried to make work, but just couldn’t turn it into revenue. Four years later, broke and very nearly bankrupt, we launched Vinomofo.
Is Australia unique in the way we buy and consume wine?
No. We’re quite parochial, but so is the US, and indeed so are most wine producing countries. Wine is becoming more and more ingrained into our food lives, but we’ve got a little way to go for the mainstream consumer. As compared with, say, Italy or France.
What were some of the key challenges in growing the business from the startup phase?
It changes as you grow. First, it’s being able to pay yourself, support a family. Then it’s your time resource, you need to work 80-90 hours a week just to keep up. And then it’s people, and capital, and cash flow. But always, it’s about your ability as a founder/leader to grow. Unwavering self-belief balanced with brutal self-awareness.
Visit our lobbies to pick up a hard copy of Edition 3 of It. or download and view