Start-ups lands $10 million

According to CEO Rowan Gormley is a way to make “rich people’s wines affordable to normal people.”

Would you buy wine from this man and his virtuous circle?

Would you buy wine from this man and his virtuous circle?

Even though SI HQ is based here in Silicon Valley, we don’t write often about venture capital or financing rounds. However, this one caught my eye for one simple reason: it involves a wine start-up. There’s not many headlines about nascent wine businesses receiving valuations, getting acquired or landing VC money.

But, here we are, with, who just scored a $10 million round.

The five year old online retailer will reportedly use the money to back international expansion.

Either brilliant, or possibly disturbing, is the so-called “virtuous circle” business model the company employs, whereby “funds from regular customers (called ‘Angels’) are invested into independent winemakers, in exchange for exclusivity and wholesale pricing – typically 40-60% below retail prices. ”

SNEAK PEEK: Sonoma Wine Country Weekend (Video)

According to CEO Rowan Gormley it’s a way to make “rich people’s wines affordable to normal people.”

Last year the company generated $60 million in revenue, and $1.5 million in profit. Formidable numbers for such a a young company.

The “customer-funded winery” employs a bit of that trendy self-deprecating humor in its promotional videos that we’ve seen perhaps used too often of late. Then again, they can certainly help break the typically mundane ad rotation.

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Clinton Stark
Clint is based in San Francisco and has produced videos for Stark Insider since 2006. Film projects recently completed include short MORADO shot in the Baja, doc THE ART OF HALL WINES in Napa, and music video WRONG'S WHAT I DO BEST at the San Francisco Art Institute. He regularly writes about Canon DSLR and filmmaking. His Broadway features have garnered praise, including SHREK UNMASKED which is the most viewed BTS video for the musical on YouTube. In addition he's worked with DreamWorks, Disney on Ice, and Cirque du Soleil, among others. Interview highlights include James Franco, Gia Coppola, Colbie Caillat, Vincent Kartheiser, Dana Carvey, and Dany Boyle. Clint is a member of ATCA and covers the SF theater scene. He also writes about Napa and wine, and Silicon Valley news and trends. More: Clint's story...