Start-ups

NakedWines.com lands $10 million

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

Clinton Stark
08.22.2013 | View Comments
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 NakedWines.com, 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.

WATCH: How NakesWines.com works

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Clinton Stark
Clint writes about Silicon Valley (Churchill Club Academy member), film, California wine, theater (ATCA member) and tech including his trusty Canon EOS 70D and, much to his wife's chagrin, his new Pebble smartwatch. A would-be NHLer if it weren't for the clarinet, he tries in vain to direct Loni on Stark Insider TV. He's held executive marketing roles at Cisco, EMC and Salesforce.com, and is active with start-ups across the valley. Clint's story...