Naked Wines: Baring All to Boost Indie Winemakers
What happens when a company applies an entrepreneurial spirit to the craft of winemaking? Massive investments in delicious wines. Napa-based Naked Wines disrupted the traditional wine club subscription service by establishing a crowdfunding model for its business. It calls its customers ‘angels,’ and when they buy in (typically starting with a $40 deposit), they “invest” in independent winemakers in exchange for exclusive access to wines at wholesale prices. Originally launched in the UK, Naked Wines (so named because founder Rowan Gormley wanted the business to be “incredibly transparent”) began operating in California in 2012.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Gormley said one of the biggest challenges they faced at launch, “was getting winemakers, who can be very traditional people, to change the way they wanted to work. We had to find the crazy people who were tired of the system and hungry for change, and get them to be our cheerleaders. We were lucky to find five or six great people early on who are still with us today, who are respected by their peers. By them coming on board, more followed.”
And the model has worked. To date, the Naked Wines angel community has grown to 75,000 and has invested $38M in 130+ winemakers around the world..