Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Danni Lin, Founder and CEO at GREAT WINE:
What does your company do?
GREAT WINE, Inc. is the world's first company to produce wine based on people's wine personality or “vinotype.” GREAT WINE inspires clients to discover their unique preferences and perspectives by providing them with wines that cater to the taste of different “vinotypes.” It is GREAT WINE’s goal to give respect to the uniqueness of individuals and uniqueness of each wine. GREAT WINE was founded in 2015 in the USA and in China.
It collaborates with Tim Hanni, MW (the first American who became Master of Wine), and myVinotype – a smart wine recommendation platform for wine-related businesses and connoisseurs to learn more about clients’ wine personalities. Launched in 2011, myVinotype first started as a website widget and a consumer survey. By 2016, the platform has launched an iOS app, and has become available in eight languages worldwide, including Chinese. All these features are supported by data analytics in order to be more client-oriented.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
As the Founder and CEO of GREAT WINE, Inc., I am responsible for running all facets of the business. I am also responsible for drawing the master plan of the company’s future developments. As an entrepreneur, I have promoted the idea of “vinotype” and my wines PERCIPIO in the American and Asian markets with remarkable success. Like many, I had experiences of going into a supermarket, and got lost in massive product lists and ads. I thought how knowledgeable I was in wine affected my likes and dislikes – until I had a conversation with Tim Hanni, MW.
Hanni is one of the first Americans to become Master of Wine, and introduced me to the scientific concept of “vinotype,” i.e. wine preferences and sensory abilities of people. I then transformed from a wine novice to a wine educator who encouraged consumers to speak their mind – what they really enjoy drinking and experiencing. Before founding GREAT WINE, Inc., I was a data scientist at Microsoft. Having a job and being your own boss is just very different.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
Building brand awareness. GREAT WINE, Inc. is in fierce competition with other well-established wine brands. Our marketing team has built the brand and has successfully created a loyal client-base by managing multiple channels dynamically to communicate with clients. Customers learn about our product via omni-channel marketing, a multi-path experience that seeks to provide the customer with a convenient and seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store as a tool to communicate with customers.
This method provides a seamless, consistent, and convenient communicating channel between the company and customers. Omni-channel marketing creates 1:1 experience between the company and customers. Our wine specialists and even our CEO are just few clicks away from clients. As a result, GREAT WINE, Inc. successfully builds brand awareness and connects personally with customers. We believe that this is hugely different from reading a book, because people come together and participate in knowledge making together.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
Do not over-focus on getting VC or investors. Investors are looking for returns, either short-term or long-term – they are not just buying high-sounding ideas! If you can prove your company has value and can make money, investors will invest. Always remember that investment could help speed up the growth of a business, but cannot change the nature of a company if it is not profitable. Yes, it is very easy to run into a situation that the bank balance is almost zero for startups. Instead of panicking about when money will be running out, be careful with every penny the company spends. This practically strikes a balance between dreams and reality, especially at a time when not everything is perfect yet.