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25% of the UK’s 28 million regular wine drinkers now buy online, a byproduct of consumer demand for convenience and speed.
With over 25,000 orders delivered to consumers’ doorsteps in under one hour since launch, Drop is capitalising on an underserved market, bringing quality, expertise, technology and more consumer choice than ever before to the table.
We sat down with founders Ian Campbell and Will Palmer to discuss the enormous global market for wine delivery and how Drop plans to serve it.
What were you doing previous to this and why did you decide to take the entrepreneurship route?
I spent most of my professional career running restaurants and building eco lodges in the south pacific.
Drop was just one of those ideas that hits you in the face – there really was just no obvious or straightforward way to get quality wines delivered with the same ease with which you can order a taxi. It just seemed there was a clear gap in the market for on-demand wine delivery and no one appeared to be doing anything to fill it.
What was the first order of business in getting the company off the ground?
We first ran a trial through our restaurant, The 10 Cases. We built an MVP and tested it with our existing customers, and found out pretty quickly that we didn’t have enough staff to fulfil the number of orders coming in. Then came the not-so-simple task of building an app, finding a premise to trade from, jumping a lot of hurdles and learning a lot of lessons – some painful, some inspirational, but all incredibly useful.
Covid has caused many businesses to pivot and innovate – what did Drop do to adapt to the circumstances?
We’ve been very fortunate that our business model has been pretty resilient to what has happened in this past year, though it has been a great shame not to welcome people into the shop for purchases and tastings.
Who are the core members of your team and how does their experience contribute to the mission?
There are many facets to Drop, each performing pretty essential tasks. On the ground, we have our wine buyer Victor Guyonnet who ensures our list is always interesting, fun, approachable, delicious, and great value…you could say he’s Drop’s beating heart. We also have CEO Robert Watkins and CFO Paul Jaftha, the two hemispheres of the Drop brain, guiding the business in the right direction and bringing a wealth of experience – at Acer and Sony in Bobby’s case, and Lindt in Paul’s – that we couldn’t do without.
What’s been the biggest milestone so far, and how did your team celebrate?
Getting a fully functioning Android app up and running was surprisingly challenging but we’ve got there in the end. Naturally we celebrated by ordering a couple of bottles from an Android phone.
We also recruited top players in the industry was a bit of a lightbulb moment for us – realising that to take Drop to the next level we needed to move beyond our own love and knowledge of wine and focus on the business side of things. We’d already built a fantastic app and a respected brand, and it was time to call in the A Team to take things forward.
Hitting 25,000 orders felt like a remarkable achievement, given how relatively little marketing we’d done and how limited our original radius was. That was actually 4 times last year’s orders, a milestone even we hadn’t predicted.
Lastly, securing our first franchise was a major success – this is central to our business model moving forward and to have made this first step pre-raise is incredibly encouraging.
What’s the biggest thing you’re building next?
We have our sights on AI-enabled tech which will serve each customer a fully personalised experience and recommendations that suit their preferences and budget. We also plan to launch a virtual wallet to make buying and gifting wine, sharing cellars and favourites, and generally having even more fun with Drop much easier. Finally, we’ll be building a new subscription model that will be able to make the most of individual tastes and effortlessly curate personalised monthly cases.
What’s something you’ve done to maintain company culture remotely?
We’ve always been very hands on, whether that’s daily check-ins via Slack or WhatsApp. That said, we’d always prefer to be able to check in face to face, not least in order to taste the new wines… it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. And we’ve never been shy of sending the odd bottle here and there to our team as a thank you for all their hard work.
What are three things you look for in new hires?
A good sense of humour, a better attention to detail, and an even greater willingness to learn – we’re not looking for masters of wine, just people with the right attitude.
What wine would you advise anyone to try from the app right now?
Part of the beauty of the wines on the app is that we do not take any shortcuts or put wines on just because they will shift. All the wines have been tasted and all are superb. If that’s too much of a cop out then we’d say the Viano Vineyards Cabernet – it ticks so many of our boxes, in that it’s not the big bruiser you might expect from a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, and is incredibly good value for a wine of that quality and depth.
What tips do you have for staying sane during UK lockdown?
Exercise has always been pretty much top of our list of things to do to stay sane. Particularly since next on the list is a good lunch with friends and that is very much verboten at the moment!
To find out more about Drop and the investment opportunity, visit the campaign.