With the power of Internet-enabled smartphones, today, virtually every product and service one can think of is available at your fingertips. From booking flight tickets to buying groceries to purchasing gifts, the varied world of m-commerce has enough options to satisfy even the most discerning buyer. So it’s little surprise that alcohol should have dedicated apps and platforms aiming to help people enjoy their favourite drinks in the comfort of their homes without having to step out to look for, compare, and buy them. In such an environment, US-based wine app startup Vivino recently announced that it had secured $20 million in a Series C round led by existing investor SCP Neptune.
Vivino runs on a simple premise: allow users to rate and discuss their favourite wines on an easy-to-use platform, and partner this offering with an online marketplace where users can order wines and have them delivered to their doorstep. Since its founding in 2009, the company has sold $100 million worth of wine, building a 29-million-strong community along the way. This community has, in fact, grown by 16 million since Vivino’s last round of Series B funding in 2016, according to the company.
The latest round of funding brings Vivino’s total fundraising to $56.3 million, with earlier rounds of funding including an undisclosed amount in a Venture Round in November 2011, $11.3 million across two Series A rounds in December 2012 and July 2013, and the $25 million Series B in January 2016. The company aims to sell $1 billion of wine by 2020, a goal that will require aggressive expansion. Vivino’s home US market currently accounts for 50 percent of its revenue, and CEO and Founder Heini Zachariassen is keen to expand further into emerging markets like Southeast Asia through partnerships with local players.
While Vivino’s main offering is still curation and reviews of wines, it is also focused on steadily increasing its retail footprint. A big chunk of this is a Premium service where the company offers an unlimited free wine shipping programme for $47 per year. Heini says that his company finds “half of those purchasing wine from us opting into try Premium”, and the new round of funding will help boost awareness of the service further.
Vivino is by no means the only player in the space. Other competitors offer wine delivery services too, including retail giant Amazon. In India too, Mumbai-based startup Hipcask offers a similar service that lets people get “passports” for discounted deals at select partner restaurants and pubs. Another Indian player in the space is Bengaluru-based First One On Me (FOOM).
However, despite such fierce competition, Heini is unconcerned. He said, “We’re not making big reactionary moves to others jumping in the market. Vivino has slowly and carefully built a community of over 29 million wine drinkers who trust our rating system and who can now shop from the largest online wine marketplace via a seamless purchase experience...That trust coupled with our focus on growing the selection of wines available for purchase is what we believe makes us a clear category leader.”