Vinomofo co-founder Andre Eikmeier has opened up about the time and complexity involved in redesigning a fast-growing company’s offerings, following the launch of the retailer’s new subscription platform last month.
After toying with, and then putting off, the concept for five years, Vinomofo founders Andre Eikmeier and Justin Dry decided to take their online wine retailer’s offerings to the next level with the launch of The Club, after securing $25 million in funding in early 2016.
With a self-explanatory name, The Club operates as a subscription service for Vinomofo customers, delivering 12 hand-picked wines to subscribers’ doors every month, every two months, or every quarter.
The Club is also customisable; customers can pick and choose between wines types depending on their tastes, so they can avoid receiving a box of nothing but Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, for example.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Eikmeier revealed the concept of The Club was something the founders had been cooking up for years. In fact, they had actually released a similar model back in 2012 but it fell by the wayside as they “never took it to the next level”.
Now, Eikmeier says the business is entering a “new era”, developing and building a new platform for customers that The Club will be part of.
“The platform we have now, we’ve had it for three years and it’s not the platform we’re taking into the future,” he says.
“This new wine club represents the new way we’re going about things, a new era of rigour and better stakeholder inclusion.”
A renewed focus on a wine club came after the two founders started to look into other wine subscription services around the world. Eikmeier says they found the market for subscription services alone would often be nearly as big as the entire online wine retail sector.
“We thought, ‘we should be nailing this’,” Eikmeier says.
Vinomofo’s first club launch years ago was a “token effort”, admits Eikmeier. This time round, he and Dry decided to sit down and “take this really seriously” when preparing to launch The Club.
“As a fast growth and agile startup, the way is usually to smash out an MVP [minimum viable product] and worry about everything else afterwards,” he says
“This time we thought: what would we do if this is all we did? We needed to rebuild it all and rethink it all.”
“We built one big sort of beast”
Eikmeier says he and Dry realised Vinomofo’s platform would need to be rebuilt two years ago, having initially built it with an insular focus.
“It didn’t cater to setting up sites in new markets,” he says.
“We had built one big sort of beast, and every change we made impacted everything else. Every new product or feature work took so much work.”
The way forward for the Vinomofo platform is now a “series of modules”, connecting through various APIs so the impact of changes only affect the module the change is within.
“It’s better than everything being just baked in,” Eikmeier says.
Despite the new platform development taking a lot of work, the multimillion-dollar company couldn’t just go to a standstill while it was created. This led to the Vinomofo team building it in tandem with running the current platform.
“It’s a funny thing — we’ve known we need to change and improve for years, but the struggle is where to focus,” Eikmeier says.
“Fast-growth businesses don’t die of starvation, they die of indigestion.
“For companies like us, if you have the resources and the care, you can do it better than anyone else because you care more. If you just care like crazy you can get better at anything”