Bright Cellars' technology will change how you discover & purchase wine by RICHARD YAO - CEO, Bright Cellars
We have all experienced this problem in the wine aisle: seemingly infinite selection with no good idea on which wine to pick. Ultimately, we make a wine purchase based on whether we like the label, or whether the price seems reasonable. Other times, we will just purchase the same wine over and over, or go with a wine that looks familiar.
Milwaukee-based Bright Cellars solves this exact problem by using technology to help its members discover and learn about wine they love. Here’s how it works:
1. Members take a quiz that matches them to a unique four bottle-per-month wine subscription.
2. After trying each bottle, members have the opportunity to rate and review their selections.
3. Using these ratings, Bright Cellars’ proprietary algorithm gets better at matching members to wine every month.
Bright Cellars' members discover wine from all over the world they love at an affordable $15 per bottle. Bright Cellars removes the guesswork from the wine purchasing process. With its individualized algorithm, Bright Cellars takes each member’s unique preferences into account, matching members to a diverse set of wines.
Serving a new market
With an emphasis on discovery and education, the company largely serves an underdeveloped wine market – millennials and wine drinkers who are just trying to learn more. Bright Cellars focuses on enabling members to learn about wine in a enjoyable, unpretentious way.
Founded in 2014 by MIT grads Joe Laurendi and Richard Yau, Bright Cellars has been growing fast. With over 16,000 members and ten-fold growth in the last two years, the model is working well.
“We’re resonating with our members,” Yau said. “They’re looking to try wine they wouldn’t otherwise pick up off the shelf and we’re improving the algorithm’s ability to match them to wine.”
Building in Milwaukee
“We started the company in Boston and had no idea we would find ourselves growing it in Milwaukee,” said Yau. A conversation with startup accelerator gener8tor’s partners Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller led to Bright Cellars participating in the program in 2015. Local venture capital firm CSA Partners, backed by Chris Abele, led Bright Cellars $2 million seed round.
“CSA Partners and gener8tor have been champions of Bright Cellars since the day we met,” said Laurendi. “It was 100% clear to us by the end of our three-month program that Milwaukee would be the absolute best place to grow the company.”
At the end of the accelerator program, Bright Cellars moved to the Ward4 co-working space in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. The company has since grown to 30 employees, with the majority of those employees coming from UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.
“We’re excited to continue to build Bright Cellars in Milwaukee and hope to become a leader in a $56
billion-a-year industry.” said Yau.
To learn more about Bright Cellars and take the wine quiz, visit www.brightcellars.com.
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