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From Entrepreneurial Stage to $100 Million in Revenues in Less Than 10 Years An interview with Winc Beverage CEO Geoff McFarlane

By John Stanly

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Q. You and your team helped take Winc from an idea to a company targeting $100 million in revenues the coming year or two. What's driving the growth?

Our growth has been driven by our core brands that have gained top ratings from critics, a cult following from consumers, and significant growth at retail locations throughout the country. Among these brands is Summer Water, a rosé that captures the essence of laidback, easy drinking lifestyle creating tremendous social following and growth at retailers like Whole Foods, Walmart, and Albertsons. Another example is Lost Poet, a wine we created in partnership with Atticus, an Instagram poet with over 1M followers, and that has found rapid success at Target. These brands have helped drive explosive growth in our wholesale channel, which more than doubled in Q3 2021.

Our brand development process and the amazing products it helps us develop are at the heart of what we do. We're able to leverage the feedback we receive through our direct relationship with customers to test and refine products, preparing them for distribution in the broad market where we are able to amplify successful brands through our national wholesale distribution network.

And of course, all of this couldn't be done without our world-class team - from our winemakers to supply chain analysts to brand strategists and marketing team.

Q. So, while team passion is an ingredient, institutional investor interest is a driver as well. They just helped you to complete a $22 million IPO. What inspired their interest?

Investor interest was and still is primarily from our innovative brand development process that has produced our national portfolio of brands and our upcoming innovation pipeline that will soon span across multiple beverage categories. At Winc, we are leveraging consumer data to inform brand and product strategy in a way that differentiates us within the industry and allows us to scale brands in a much more capital efficient manner than our peers.

Q. While they want to make money, your customers only care about a great product. Who are you targeting and what allows Winc to deliver on that part of the equation?

Roughly 75% of our consumers are 44 years or younger, the key Generation X and Millennial demographics - these consumers are the next generation that will dominate the wine and beverage spaces in the near future. Everything we do is centered on our customer connection and the modern path to consumer we've created through our digital expertise and wholesale network - from our brand aesthetics and values to our social media engagement to our commitment to sustainability and organic wines. For example, informed by industry reports and our own proprietary surveys and data, we believe that sustainability and organics are among the most important buying factors for the younger consumer - and we've listened and acted on it, nearly tripling our organic selection in 2021.

Q. With that said, you recently said that the supply chain issues won't slow your growth. Have you sourced, obtained, and harvested enough to drive 2022 revenues higher?

We have a flexible sourcing strategy for our wines; therefore we are not bound like a traditional winery to the supply from a specific vineyard's harvest for a season. We also have been agile in sourcing other raw materials like glass which helps us navigate supply chain disruptions like those that have affected the industry as a result of COVID.

Q. So, with that need met, you could gain a competitive advantage in both the DTC and wholesale markets, right?

We believe Winc is the only beverage company leveraging the "best of the old", at-scale wholesale distribution, with the "best of the new", a direct digital connection to consumers with data-driven brand development.

Q. Winc had one of its best quarters ever in 2020 - with COVID cases spiking again, do you expect a similar growth pattern in 2022?

We accelerated our online growth in 2020 due to lower online customer acquisition costs that were a result of COVID and customers turning online for alcoholic beverages. In 2020 we don't expect the same growth pattern - instead, we're focused on growing our core brands, launching our innovation products, and continuing rapid growth in our wholesale channel

Q. You've provided an ample dose of optimism at a time when businesses need it most. And a lot of folks, investors and consumers, are cheering on Winc. What do you intend to deliver in 2022 to keep them happy?

We're really excited about our upcoming 2022 launches that include a bag format for our Dime brand (read: Dime Bag), a canned cocktail called WKND, and as well as a celebrity-backed brand that we hope to launch in the second half of the year. We're also launching new vintages for our current brands and exploring some partnerships with exciting retail accounts throughout the country. Stay tuned!

John Stanly

Start-up mentor

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