Attending a festival in Melbourne, Georgia Beattie was struck by an unusual idea – why not try to sell single-serve portions of wine to consumers?
After plenty of hard work, Beattie’s resulting business, Lupe, is set to launch this week, with four initial pre-packaged types of wine.
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She speaks to StartupSmart about how the venture is faring.
What gave you the idea for the business?
I was at a festival in Melbourne in 2009 and I wanted to get a drink. The line was 100 metres long and all they were serving was beer and Smirnoff pre-mixed drinks.
I wanted a glass of wine, but it would take them far too long to pour the wine, so they didn’t have any. I just thought I wouldn’t bother, as I didn’t want to drink beer or lolly water.
I realised that spirits and beer come in single serve, but why not wine? There’s no reason that wine couldn’t fit into that outdoor lifestyle in the same way.
Once I found out that you have to serve drinks in plastic after 10am, I realised that there was an opportunity to do something different in the marketplace.
What kind of market would this appeal to?
Wine is a lot of people’s drink of choice, if they can get it. A lot of are moving away from lolly water. They have a more refined palate and want another option.
I see it at the retail level as well as outdoor events. I’d like to see single serve products in Dan Murphy’s alongside regular bottles of wine.
If you’re having a picnic, taking a glass is a bit too hard – you can grab a single serve and wine. Also, if you’re going to a social occasion, you can know exactly many drinks you’ve had. Each single serve is 1.6 standard drinks. That’s a good point of difference.
So, what did you do next?
I’d always wanted to start my own business and I’d studied entrepreneurship. My family is in the wine business, so it just seemed ideal.
I realised that it would take a lot of time and money to do it myself due to the cost of the very specialised machine needed to make the single serve products. It would’ve taken me years.
So I partnered with a guy called James Nash, who provides single serve brands Italian Job and Le Froglet in Marks & Spencer in the UK.
He had a tailor-made machine that could manufacture the product. A lot of people said it couldn’t be done, but I used my last $1,000 to fly over to the UK to meet him.
How did you pitch yourself to him?
I found that we have very similar views on business. I explained that I came from a wine background, that I’ve got drive and enthusiasm and that I’ve got good connections in the industry.
He did due diligence, came over to see the wine and stores in Australia and then gave me the rights for Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific under my own brand, Lupe.
I’m glad I got in there quickly as he’s already sold the rights in countries around the world.
Was it a nervy time?
Yes, it still is, every day! When you have a lot of people saying that it won’t work, it does play on your mind. There is a tall poppy syndrome in Australia.
What drives me is that I studied in the US and the kids there were such go-getters. They had the true spirit of entrepreneurialism. We need that attitude here.