Eric is a new friend although he seems like one of those guys you've known forever. One thing Eric has plenty of is charm and ambition, both of which are evident right off the bat. Perhaps it's Eric's Southern roots and having grown up in Virginia or his love of life but he's an easy guy to do business with, especially since his business involves wine. Eric is the Consigliere at Wine Awesomeness. Haven't heard of it? It's a game-changer. Subscribe to their monthly wine club and get 3 - 6 white, red or mixed varietal from a diverse set of wine producers sent straight to your door. The mixed bottles are high quality yet still adventurous and the services eliminates the distress often faced when at the wine store debating what wine to purchase when "trying to be adventurous."
1. What exactly is the role of a consigliere at Wine Awesomeness and how did you land this position?
Consigliere is a term used, mainly in the mafia, for a person who councils the head of an organization. This is very apt in the world of early stage startups where you wear a ton of different hats. Ben Lerer of Thrillist actually gave me when I started there and was doing 1,000 different jobs and we couldn't figure out a job title.
My day to day is a lot of business development, marketing, product, editorial, and just meeting with as many people as possible. I love what I do because I get to have my hands in all aspects of a business and really get to make a difference.
I landed the job with them because I have a ton of experience in high growth startups and that's what the team over at WA are going through right now. They needed someone who could make deals happen as well as get their hands dirty doing the tedious things that startups have to go through to get to that next milestone.
2. It seems that wine is having a moment amongst millennial drinkers. Can you shed some light on how much of America consumes wine and why Wine Awesomeness needs to exist?
The millennial generation is the fastest growing and largest wine drinking generation ever. Over 40% of all wine consumed in America last year was done so by millennials and we are talking about a 40 billion dollar industry.
Even with those large numbers a lot of millennials have only been drinking wine for a few years and have not developed their palate. That is why we have steered away from quizzes about what customers like and focused on discovery which plays into the millennials mindset. Our parents and their parents were more of the coca-cola generation where they found their brand and stayed with it. Millennials love discovering something new. That is why we source 6 bottles a month around a theme that is not only fun, but you will be able to impress a date with some really cool knowledge.
First of all we love the Skimm. Their team is so smart and so much fun. We found a ton of commonality between us, our readers, and our vision about making discovery fun.
This deal was fought over by a ton of different power houses in the wine world and we won because our drive to really make wine approachable but without sacrificing quality. These wins have to push you past the lows because that's what drives entrepreneurs.
Everyday is a new challenge in startup world, this is not a game for people who are risk averse. Even if you figure something out there is always a better way to do it even if you are Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber, etc. Now imagine doing that with a team who can fit in an Uber XL.
4. What I love about Wine Awesomeness is the educational component that accompanies each monthly shipment. How do you find your amazing wines and who is behind these great themes?
Education is super important to us, although education done in a fun and inviting tone is even more important. Each month's box comes with editorialized content, tasting notes, recipes, DIYs, music to listen to.
We have an amazing team of people who really love wine and they do a lot of the research (aka drinking wine everyday, tough job I know). However, we also rely heavily on Birk O'Halloran who is an amazing wine maker himself and has an awesome knowledge of wine I have never even seen on a wine store shelf or at a restaurant. Our latest example of this is from our Back to the Bloc box, it is this amazing wine called Črnko Jareninčan from Slovenia. It is the perfect summer drink, just chill it a little bit and you will be hooked.
That is why I love our themes. It allows us to branch out from what you see everyday but it also allows us to have a really cohesive story each month and work with some of the top people in the food and wine world. Last month we did the Pizza Box where we teamed up with the best pizza makers and paired some amazing wines with them. The typical wine establishment would never tell you to do that which is an issue because I guarantee that 90 percent of the people eat pizza with wine more than they do a big steak or fish. Our goal is to really take an industry that can be a little stuffy sometimes and make it super approachable.
5. If you were to meet with 21 year old Eric Kramer, what advice would you bestow?
FOCUS AND DON'T RUSH!!! There is no point of doing 10 things half assed when you can do 1 or 2 things really well.