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Naked Ambition: ‘We can be the Netflix of wine’

Crowdfunded winemaker and retailer, Naked Wines, is bullish about the future as it moves to “mainstream its revolution” of the liquor industry.

Before heading to the US for three months, Luke Jecks, CEO of Naked Wines International, spoke about the growth of Naked’s global family.

“I think Naked can be the Netflix of wine,” Jecks said.

“Netflix has changed the way people enjoy movie and TV content and Naked has started a revolution of the way wine is produced and the way it’s enjoyed.”

Jecks believes the company is now on the cusp of “mainstreaming the revolution.”

Naked Wine’s business model relies on angel investors to fund independent winemakers in return for discounts. Jecks said his company is leading a rebellion against the commoditization of winemaking.  

“It’s a complete revolution of what is happening in the wine industry. Everybody is working out ways to reduce the price of wine and, to do that they are taking value out of the juice.

“Naked is doing to opposite by saying: wine should be diverse, it should be creative and it should be of high quality and it should be about the human story behind that.

“The industry is still in a race to the bottom on price. ‘Lowest prices guaranteed’ doesn’t work with a creative product like wine, where it is supposed to be social, it’s supposed to be enjoyed and passionate people make it.”  

Naked Wines is focused on proving it can succeed because of those values not despite them, as it grows its global business.

Earlier this year, Naked Wines was sold in a deal worth $137 million, to Majestic Wine, the United Kingdom’s largest independent wine specialist.

Naked Wines, which now operates in the United States, UK and Australia, has 300,000 angles globally, supporting 150 winemakers.

“One of the things that is really big for us at the moment is ensuring as we pass through this stratospheric growth that we hold on to those values that made us what we are and we don’t caught in a price war or getting too commercial on the pricing [and] that we hold onto the values that underpin the growth of Naked,” Jecks said.  

This month Naked gathered together 30 of its winemakers and 500 angles for its annual Angel Tasting event in Sydney. When the business launched in July 2012 it had an event with three winemakers and 60 people.

“This is not a revenue generating event for us. It’s a large party and a chance for the people who make this work – the angels and the winemakers – to get together and celebrate what they do which is the product.

“In an online world we can really tailor the shop, you can tell us what you like, so we are able to really personalise that in a digital sense. But there is nothing more personal than just getting people together in a room and just really talking about it.”

Jecks said they are hoping to take the event on a tour of the other capital cities in the future, and there’s some “very cool tech” on the horizon for the business.

This story first appeared on Internet Retailing’s sister site, Inside Retail. Click here to subscribe

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