Last weekend we visited some boutique wineries at north east of Turkey (Trakya). After having wonderful conversations with winery owners, I realized the similarities with startups.
Both start ups and boutique vineries are run by entrepreneurs who want to do something different or change the way others do the things. All work with passion and want to build something great. Of course like any other business, “me too” types who want to make quick bucks exist in this business, too.
Like any new venture, wine making requires lots of planning and will power. It starts with finding the right team (oenologist,viticulturist, etc) to work with. Then you have to find the right terroir and type of grapes to plant, type of wine to produce, validate the market for pricing strategy. It’s all about producing a product that can be recognized and bought by consumers. Sounds familiar?
Similarities with tech startups continue after this stage, too. Just like tech companies, wine makers have to monitor and measure everything. Monitoring and measuring each cycle of process (grapevines, fruition, harvesting, production, storage, bottling, and finally sales and marketing) are very critical to wine makers. I can argue that this stage is actually more important for wine makers than tech startups. In a tech company, after receiving negative feedback, you can change or roll back that feature, whereas in a winery, you can lose the entire vintage! So every action and process has to be well calculated and thought. Then circling back to start every year helps them make better wine in every vintage. That’s how they can stay alive in the market.
Another,and maybe the most critical similarity, is that neither start ups nor wineries make money until they grow into a consistent and sustainable business. Once both businesses come to this stage in their life cycle, as demand increases, bottle prices for wineries , and customer base for tech companies will increase.
Long story short, without execution and passion you can’t be successful in either business.