June 25, 2018

Coravin - Wine Tech Made for Enthusiasts, by Enthusiasts

For anyone dining out at an Italian restaurant or a swanky steakhouse, having a glass of wine can make that meal that much better. Some people enjoy attending wine tastings, and some people want to sip it during an evening at home.

Entrepreneur Greg Lambrecht is one of many wine enthusiasts across the country, and his appreciation for drinking wine led him to start his fifth company Coravin.

Coravin’s Origins

Even before starting his wine tech company, Lambrecht is described as a “wine lover,” by the company’s CEO Frederic Levy.

“He has quite the collection of wine in his cellar,” said Levy. “He is determined to try at least one wine from each country in the world.

Greg Lambrecht
Greg Lambrecht, Founder and Chairman of Coravin

It was something he shared with his wife until she became pregnant with their second child. Without wanting to waste a whole bottle, he began to build a device strictly for personal use that would let him pour and preserve wine without removing the cork. It was not long until he started showing it to friends and family, and he quickly began to realize that this device has a wider appeal than he first thought. In 2011, the company was founded.

“The first name was Wine Mosquito. But, for obvious reasons it didn’t catch on,” the CEO joked. “Instead, with the name, he went with something a little different. Coravin is a rough translation of ‘heart of wine’ in Latin and French.”

Levy has two decades of experience working at Nestlé as the President of Nestlé Nespresso - North America, and before that, he was building out the company’s eCommerce platforms in Europe. On top of his business experience, he is also a fan of drinking wine.

After leaving Nestlé, Levy met Lambrecht in person through a headhunter for an open CEO position. Levy was impressed by Lambrecht’s passion for the product. Having been a customer of Coravin for a little while up to this point, it was a natural fit for Levy and he joined as the company’s CEO in February 2015.

How Does A ‘Wine Mosquito’ Work?

Coravin allows avid wine drinkers and restaurateurs to preserve their wine and pour a glass without having to pop the cork.

Regardless of bottle price, wine goes bad after being opened and exposed to air for an extended period of time.

Frederic Levy
Frederic Levy, CEO of Coravin

“Coravin allows you to have that same bottle of wine tomorrow night, the next week, the next month, whenever,” said Levy. “Say, if I have a party where our guests have different tastes, we can enjoy 20 bottles without having to waste them. It’s about giving absolute freedom to those who drink wine in your household. It’s also a game-changer in the restaurant industry.”

While the website does showcase several different models, the core technology and purpose has remained consistent. Lambrecht, who is also an MIT graduate, knows a thing or two about engineering, created it to be as simple as possible. The Coravin has a needle pointing down that pokes a hole through the cork. All a user has to do is slide the Coravin over the neck of the bottle, and push the needle through the cork. From there, the user pushes down on the trigger of the Coravin and argon gas pushes through, pouring out the drink. Since the product does not destroy the cork, the hole in the neck closes itself.

The company’s newest model, dubbed Model Eleven, has more of a focus on social drinking. The Model Eleven connects to a user’s phone through Bluetooth, and they can order wine bottles and receive recommendations from other users. This model also allows one-handed pouring. Apush of a button on the app will prompt the device to deliver the right amount of argon gas to pour a glass or a smaller taste.

And Now, Some Advice from the CEO...

Since its founding, Coravin has been able to raise close to $64M to date with investors coming from all over the country.

“We are very lucky to have investors who are passionate about our product,” Levy said. “They are looking to help more than just providing capital, and having the added competency is important to helping your business grow.”

For someone looking on the outside, Coravin appears to be a niche product with a specific audience in mind. In fact, rather than Boston tech events, the company participates in wine shows and tastings.

A company with a slant towards a particular demographic is, of course, nothing new in the startup world. Many companies develop applications or build products with a particular group of users in mind.

However, the CEO offered advice to those up-and-coming entrepreneurs out there who have a ‘wine mosquito’ of their own.

“First off, everything will take longer than you think. Most companies should start raising when they are either six months or one year old. Second, don’t be blinded by your product and don’t love it too much. Even the best products need marketing, distribution, and a full plan. Retailers don’t wait for the products to come.”

Colin Barry is an Editor & Staff Writer to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash

Images courtesy of Coravin