Hi David please tell us about the creator behind Avina Wine Accessories.
My background is in marketing and design and I set up my own technology marketing business 23 years ago. In 2005 I was ready for a lifestyle change and moved to Valencia in Spain. Being surrounded by vineyards and wineries, I took more of an interest in the wine industry and called up on my tech and design knowledge to come up with a unique bottle stopper design. Then I went on to design corkscrews and wine accessories and worked up the branding and packaging and now Avina is up and running!
Wine is such a staple to enjoy at home. Tell us where the inspiration came from to create these accessories.
The accessories were born out of a frustration of going to the fridge only to find a half bottle of wine had leaked all over the veg. I’m sure everyone’s been through it, you want a glass of wine but don’t finish the bottle, so you struggle to push the cork back into the bottle. Then after the kids have rummaged around you go the fridge and find the wine you were looking forward to drinking is now a puddle to clear up.
So the first product we launched was a locking bottle stopper that doesn’t leak.
What was the process like from concept to launch?
It was enjoyable because in amongst all the hard work were some breakthrough moments, these were the points you remember when you take a good step forward and feel like the grind is worth it. It was like that when we created the brand name, saw the finished packaging design and made the first sale, highlights that give you great satisfaction.
How did you feel when you received your first sample?
It’s fantastic when you get your own branded sample in your hand. I collected dozens of different wine bottles in the office, so as soon as it arrived I wanted to try it on all of them. I had one half full bottle of red wine that I was determined to shake above my head to prove the stopper worked, thankfully it did.
I was equally determined to break the product to see what it couldn’t do; all products have tolerance and I wanted to be clear about that in our communication. With so many different wine bottles available worldwide we knew it would work well with at least 93% of wine bottles, but we didn’t want to let customers down so created our ‘You Break It, We Replace It’ scheme. So, if at any point after you buy any of our products it breaks, you can contact us for a complimentary replacement.
It’s a great feeling when you have a product and can honestly say you would buy it yourself.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not running Avina Wine Accessories?
From the office in Spain we overlook vineyards and it’s amazing how much the scenery changes over the annual seasons. I love photography and exploring new wines so it’s the perfect place to be when I’m not working. Most people in the local villages have a connection with wine, there is a lot of tradition and I love the fiestas that celebrate that heritage.
How did you fund the business in the beginning?
Unfortunately banks nowadays offer very little support to small businesses, despite what the government are trying to offer. I did investigate peer to peer lending but with personal guarantees required it wasn’t right for me when I was unsure of how the market would react to the new products.
Fortunately, with other client work I was able to fund the product development, then use personal credit terms to get the products in stock, but the process did have cash flow issues that weren’t easy to overcome.
What is your favourite product to date?
It has to be the Falcon corkscrew. It’s light and the ergonomic design feels great in your hand, so it’s easy to work with. It also had a fantastic response from customers. I did a demonstration of our products in Barcelona and a very experienced wine waiter chased after me to tell me it was the best corkscrew he’d ever used. When you get feedback like that it’s very satisfying.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first launched?
Everything takes more time than you imagine, but don’t rush and don’t get stressed about it. I’d also say if something niggles you, change it, don’t settle for something at the cost of speed to market. Creating a detailed and structured plan helps, providing of course you can stick to it. With so many tasks and challenges that isn’t always easy.
What are your top tips for marketing online?
Determine your business goals and how online marketing can help achieve them.
Develop a strategy that will have the most impact with the least effort by utilising software tools and apps, free online training and outsourcing to people with specialist skills. Overall be consistent and stick with it over the long term and it will pay dividends. My top three tips for online objectives are:
- Create brand awareness
- Push people to where they can buy your product or service
- Develop a database of customers and prospects
How would you define being an entrepreneur?
To me it’s all about confidence and taking action. Confidence in my ideas, my ability to be rational and critique my own crazy ideas from the sensible ones. Confidence in approaching people, networking, listening and evaluating others advice. Then having the confidence to invest your own money in something you believe in, so you must be prepared to take action, learning both good and bad from the experience to improve as a person.
What plans do you have for Avina Wine Accessories over the next 12 months?
At present, we only sell online, but have had great feedback on the packaging and product quality from retailers. Therefore, our aim this year is to develop a retail presence with High Street outlets, wineries and off licenses in the UK and USA.
We will be expanding the product range with new stoppers and we’re also working on a developing some corkscrews with innovative new design features so watch this space!