WineFriend business attracts top-flight investors

By Alice Lock

1 comment
On the up: WineFriend has drawn in investors to help expand the business and ramp up its customer and wine experience. Photo/Paul Taylor
On the up: WineFriend has drawn in investors to help expand the business and ramp up its customer and wine experience. Photo/Paul Taylor

A business enterprise started by a local wine writer has attracted some heavy-hitting investors.

Roby Fyfe CEO of Icebreaker and Trilogy and the former CEO of Air New Zealand along with co-founders Sarah Wickens and Catherine de Groot have jointly taken a 25 per cent stake in WineFriend.

WineFriend was set up by Hawke's Bay Today wine columnist Yvonne Lorkin and wine marketer Debbie Sutton last year with the intention to create a distinctive wine tasting and delivery service.

It was the country's first online wine retailer, which matched wines to individual customer's taste preferences and then had them delivered.

Ms Lorkin said it was built around taking the guesswork and hassle out of buying the right wines for the right palates.

WineFriend uses a simple eight-question taste survey which provides an insight into the customer's thresholds for sweetness, bitterness and intensity of flavour.

"It then creates a profile which enables us to select wines that are tailored to the individual customer's tastes and they are then delivered to their door for around the same price as what they would currently spend at the supermarket," Ms Lorkin said.

Ms Lorkin said this investment would ramp up the whole experience and enable them to make two key things happen.

"A, we will have the resource to get a premise, as we have been operating out of Debbie's house and B, we can develop a software to fine-tune how to match wine and allow people to place feedback and interact with us."

She said the pair wanted to make it as easy as possible for customers and this investment would help them do that.

"We just want to connect people to wines which are smaller brands around New Zealand or groovy companies overseas that people would never see in the supermarket or pick if it was there."

The investment would also allow for a bigger marketing budget and the pair could bring on more staff.

Ms Lorkin said since they started last year they had been operating on a minimum buyable platform so she was looking forward to what the future would bring.

"We love what we do and just want to grow the business organically. It makes me so happy connecting people to wines they would not normally choose and receiving the positive feedback from our customers," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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