The Beverage Alcohol Industry’s Many Reinvented Wheels

I’ve made a career of web- and app-focused software Product Management for the past twenty years. I’ve been a wine enthusiast for at least half that time. I’ve been a wine business enthusiast for yet about half of that.  

Leslie Osborne

I’d like to think that I’m the only software product leader living in the Denver area who’s gotten three wine certifications, taken an online course in wine business management, has regularly read Wine Business Daily for fun the past several years, and has traveled specifically to visit various wine regions on nearly every vacation I’ve taken since 2013.  

So when an opportunity arose to work for VineSpring and apply the entirety of my experience and passions towards evolving the DTC eCommerce space, it was as if every wish I’d ever made had been granted. I found my life’s purpose as Head of Product for VineSpring on August 1, 2018.  

Here’s a short list of things I’ve found interesting since then, being a new employee of VineSpring and a neophyte in this industry:

  • My co-workers regularly inspire me.

  • Our company culture is second to none.

  • Our platform has unlimited potential.

  • Our clients are out there getting it done every hour of every day (quite literally).

  • The DTC eCommerce competitive landscape is…ridiculously fragmented.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

VineSpring’s CEO, Chris Towt, talks about how he and many others started their businesses in the beverage alcohol space. They came into winemaking, brewing, or distilling, couldn’t find quite the right tool to manage their business, so they decided to build something better/different/easier/smarter/etc. As a result, the competitive landscape is now littered with everyone’s reinvented DTC eCommerce wheels.  

It seems the beverage alcohol industry has inadvertently made room for all of our reinvented wheels to coexist, though. One platform’s “better” seemingly works better for this winery.  Another’s “smarter” is seemingly a smarter choice for that brewery. And that distiller over there, they just needed something “different” and seemingly found it with a different platform. But are all of these choices truly better, smarter, or different? I don’t think so. We can do better.

Ultimately, our clients want to make and sell their products. They want to serve their customers well and grow their businesses. Their limited resources should be focused on the making and selling, supported by a suite of best systems and practices that enable them to most effectively reach their goals. If we all have shared best practices and processes, the DTC eCommerce industry can then be focused on improving those best practices and working together with our clients, as a community, to collectively innovate towards whatever’s next.  

Just over a couple of months into my new role, I can’t yet claim to know exactly what’s next, but I’m here to make sure VineSpring will. I’m now living out my dream as someone who will work with our community to define that innovative path, at a company dedicated to not simply continuing to reinvent the wheel, but one committed to making a positive change in the beverage alcohol industry.