Vinomofo co-founder Andre Eikmeier has stepped down from his role as co-chief executive, with fellow co-founder Justin Dry taking the reins of the fast-growing wine subscription startup.
Eikmeier will retain his position on the board and as a director, and will continue on at the company in a different role, focusing more on Vinomofo’s branding and customer experience, while also getting involved in a number of other projects in Australia’s startup scene.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Eikmeier said the decision for him to step back as co-chief executive was made some time ago, but the company was keeping it under wraps while it sorted things out internally. The co-founder says Dry was always more focused on the business development and new markets side of Vinomofo, so it made sense for him to take the helm.
“I’ve always been passionate about the company’s culture and branding, and I’d started to mentor some other companies on those areas and I even had some offers to join other startups in that capacity,” he says.
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“It got to the point where I thought it would be nice to have the opportunity to do that sort of thing while still looking after parts of Vinomofo.”
After a discussion with the company’s board, the two decided “it was the right time” for Dry to become Vinomofo’s sole chief executive.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Dry says the decision was both mutual and in the best interests of Vinomofo, and a conversation that “needed to be had”. Dry says Eikmeier will continue to be Vinomofo’s “brand champion”, but the company has decided it is best to have one sole chief executive moving forward.
“Internally we made the decision a while ago, so we’ve actually been operating this way for a while, so it’s been a very smooth transition,” Dry says.
“The history around us as founders is a really important one to the company, and Andre and I really did help each other out in the early days with each other’s skill sets. But change is necessary, and the time is right for it, and what I’m excited about now is where we are and where we’re going.”
Both the co-founders are adamant that the leadership change has not affected Vinomofo’s growth in any sense, with Dry saying the company is “very profitable” and hitting all its targets, and the switchover had been a very smooth transition.
Vinomofo’s plans to expand into the US have been put on hold, however, but Dry says that has nothing to do with Eikmeier’s departure.
“The licensing side was taking way longer than we thought, so other priorities got in front of it, and our activities in other countries got bumped up,” he says.
“It’s still happening and progressing in the background, but it has taken a bit longer than planned.”
Vinomofo raised $25 million in 2016 from Blue Sky Venture Capital to help fund its ambitious expansion plans.
Eikmeier to work with startups
Along with his revised role at Vinomofo, Eikmeier will be focusing on his new branding and customer experience agency Cult Tribal, which he says will be working with select Australian companies on their branding and customer experience initiative.
“I’m really looking for companies that want to do the right thing by way of their customers,” he says.
Eikmeier will also be working with some Australian startups he says he’s “incubating”, and will also be joining a local tech project that’s working towards an IPO in the near future.