Georgia Beattie doesn’t live up to the Gen Y stereotype. She’s the opposite of lazy, more driven than most people you’re likely to meet, although one thing does ring true, she does have a love of alcohol – namely, wine.
Beattie grew up in the wine industry, as her father was a winemaker, and this gave her an appreciation at a young age of wine and also of the industry’s limitations. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that Beattie realised she wanted to be in the industry.
Beattie, who was 23 at the time, found herself at Melbourne’s Laneway Festival. Not much of a beer drinker, and not a fan of ready-to-drink spirits, Beattie asked for a glass of wine only to be told by the bar manager it was too hard to serve at outdoor events.
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This gave Beattie an idea – create single serve wines in plastic glasses which are suitable for the outdoors. Beattie returned home that night and ruined her housemates iron by sealing foil onto plastic wine glasses, experimenting with the design for what would emerge as Lupé Wines.
“I had no idea what I was doing, I did it all wrong,” she says. But now she’s created a product which is shatter-proof, has a shelf life of 12 months and is made of recyclable PET (soon they will be 100% recyclable).
The business officially started production in 2012 and launched in Japan. It is now also in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Australia. In just one year it’s already reached a turnover of $1 million. Beattie has also secured contracts with Treasury Wine Estate, the AFL, Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival and a major golf tournament.
SmartCompany spoke to Beattie about her decision to launch in Asia first, the challenges she’s faced so far and launching her upcoming retail offering.
Name: Georgia Beattie
Company: Lupé Wines and Single Serve Packaging
Location: North Melbourne, Victoria
For Beattie, the mornings are her time.
“I’m a big believer in owning a part of the day,” she says. “So for me that’s between 5.30am and 6.30am before the phone is ringing. I’ll usually run or do Pilates.”
After her morning exercise, it’s time for a coffee and to plan the day.
“I create a to-do list and work out who I’m chasing and what I want to achieve,” she says.
“There are usually three main tasks to complete and other smaller ones.”
Beattie’s days are varied as she regularly visits the production factory, the wineries which produce Lupé’s wine and also her office in North Melbourne.
“I move around where I’m needed, but I I’m constantly wearing the exporting, sales and procurement hats,” she says.
“Because it’s me running the business, I’ll also be doing admin, financing and invoicing. My days are all focused around what I decided in the morning is the priority.”
Not a creature of habit, Beattie likes every day to be different.
“I don’t even go to the same coffee place; I’m always mixing it up. As soon as you get comfortable I like to throw myself in the deep end again because I find that’s where I get the most out of myself and I’m pushing myself to new limits,” she says.
“At my age it’s a good time to give everything an absolute belting, as I have nothing to lose.”
At first Beattie struggled to convince the wine industry of how her innovation was worth embracing, but it was her fearless attitude which helped make Lupé Wines so successful.
“It was a challenge to get the wine industry’s head around what this innovation meant to them and how it would make them money, as it wasn’t a risk to them,” she says.
“If you’ve spent 50 years developing a brand like a lot of wine brands have, they’re not going to want to jeopardise that. So we had to prove it was safe by using our own wines in the glasses and show them with sales and behind the bar.”
Beattie made the decision to launch her product in Asia first because she believed the market would be more open to single serve wines.
“I studied in Beijing and have always wanted to do business in Asia. I’ve always learnt and understood how business works in all the countries I’ve visited.
“We’re on the doorstep of a very large market, so it was about leveraging that.”
Beattie has spent this week in China and she’s already travelled to Japan, Korea and Indonesia this year on business.
“That will be a trade show and also a sales round. We’re constantly innovating, which I consider to be a big part of what our point of difference is,” she says.
“I thought putting wine in a plastic glass would be a walk in the park, but it’s bloody hard. Plastics haven’t had much to do with wine and there is no other benchmark in another industry to use. So we had an engineer, a winemaker and a plastics person in a room for a year working on the product.”
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