Niche sites operating in the daily deals space can’t afford to stand still, says the co-founder of daily deal wine site Vinomofo, which has partnered with industry giant Catch Of The Day.
Founded by Melbourne brothers Gabby and Hezi Leibovich, Catch Of The Day has acquired a majority shareholding stake in Vinomofo, which is based in Adelaide.
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Vinomofo was founded 12 months ago by Andre Eikmeier and his brother-in-law Justin Dry. It currently has more than 300,000 active subscribers and more than 25,000 Twitter followers.
It has also established supply relationships with more than 200 Australian wine producers, although Eikmeier insists Vinomofo’s success comes down to its grassroots appeal.
“We actually started in 2006 – we created an online community and customer review site, and built up a community for wine geeks like us,” Eikmeier says.
“That was when social media was really coming to the fore… We hired a Kombi van and rode around the country and put [our stories] online, and that’s what set the tone for what we did.”
“We were digital communicators of the wine industry. We dabbled in selling wine but didn’t take it very seriously until we launched.”
According to Eikmeier, because Vinomofo began as a community rather than a retailer, people were “very interested in our stories and having a bit of fun”.
“The next step was to carry that through when we’re selling stuff… It’s easy to fall into the system of selling – we’re so accustomed to it – but we wanted to fight that.”
In order to remain genuine, Eikmeier and Dry refused to put any product on the site they didn’t fully believe in, and maintained open communication with their customers.
“I like the idea of people feeling like they know the people they’re buying from… I think Catch Of The Day wanted to be involved because that’s what they found so appealing,” Eikmeier says.
According to Gabby Leibovich, Catch Of The Day was keen to access specialised knowledge and established supplier networks within the wine sector.
This led the company to pursue an investment strategy as the preferred method to penetrate the high-growth wine, beer and spirits market.
“We wanted to shake up the wine category with something fresh and exciting, and were very impressed with Vinomofo’s take on the space,” Leibovich said in a statement.
“Andre and Justin not only have an incredible understanding of wine and the sector, they also understand the online world and what it takes to build a successful business in this space.”
“Through the deal, Vinomofo can enjoy access to best-in-class systems as well as warehousing and logistics capabilities to support its growth.”
Eikmeier says Vinomofo was drawn to Catch Of The Day because the team is young and proactive.
“You’ve got to move fast in this space. If you’ve got an idea, you can’t wait until three months down the track [to implement it],” he says.
With regard to other niche sites considering a partnership with a bigger player, he says the most important thing is to know what you’re worth and what you need.
“Know what you need – whether that’s people, capital or expertise – and go for that,” he says.
“Also, make sure there’s a cultural fit. Otherwise, you’ll be slugging it out, feel desperate and it will just unravel… A misalignment could put you in real trouble.”