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How we’ve created a product business that disrupts consumer buying

With flat, 'postable' bottles of wine, Garçon Wines is convincing drinkers and clients in a traditional industry to buy into something different. Here's how

Names: Santiago Navarro and Joe Revell
Company: Delivering Happiness Ltd, trading as Garçon Wines
Company description: Inventor of the world’s first full-sized postable wine bottle, an innovative slimline design to revolutionise wine delivery, retailing and storage.
Started in: 2016

Describe your start-up barrier:

In disrupting the well-established wine industry, our main challenge was getting our unique bottle prototyped. We had a clear plan and technical drawings but the only companies who could help us were too busy with huge clients.

It seemed impossible until we got the support of global sourcing giant Alibaba. Prototypes were made and the rest is history.

What were the practical steps you took to get clients to buy into your unique idea?

Try it yourself: We did all we could to try and get our bottles prototyped ourselves but our hard work was not producing results and after many, many months we started to lose hope and focus. As an idea-stage start-up competing for attention with the world’s largest FMCG and drinks brands, we had our work cut out for us.

Create a stroke of luck: Luck does play its part in business and start-ups, but you can help to create luck by being strategic.

Our co-founder Santiago is a passionate ambassador, and it was during a dinner party that he was linked to an opportunity to be part of a global TV show. This served to break the stalemate and launch the business.

Capitalise on the power of giants: Being part of a TV show, backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba and broadcast by TV giant CNBC, changed the chances of success for us.

Suddenly the bottleneck was how fast the co-founders and team could act and react, rather than begging with companies to help us get to market. We were riding high and fast on the wave created by giants.

Have something to show: If your business offers something novel, and moreover if it’s a product, then you need to have something to show. As a founder or visionary, your idea is well developed in your own head and you understand it. However, that’s not enough to get your business to flourish.

You need to communicate the product, and you should do all you can to create prototypes or samples to show. Don’t you dare skip this step or you’ll be slashing your chances of success.

Prove your idea is a winning one: We first showed our innovative wine bottles at a pop-up shop in Central London. It took us just one fateful day to realise we were on to a winning idea. The scores of people who visited the stall were totally in love with the bottle and concept.

It was at this point that we realised we could potentially be onto something massive, so we took the time to plan how we would scale quicker, bigger and further. We also took the time to protect our invention and ensure the idea would be ours to benefit from first.

Be ready to pivot: Once we had realised the potential opportunity for our invention and secured IP protection in 35 countries, we decided to stall running our own UK wine club – our initial concept.

Instead, we have started building partnerships with some of the world’s largest wine and packaging companies. Our pivot from B2C to B2B is one we didn’t take easily, but it’s in the best commercial interest of the company.

What was the outcome?

Producing our bottles was game-changing. It allowed our vision to be understood by others. When showing our innovative, slimline bottle on paper as a drawing, few people got it. Many were skeptical. The moment we had actual bottles and could display these, the world fell in love with our invention.

What three key questions should start-ups creating a disruptive new product ask themselves?

  1. Will my target audience or the general public understand what I’m doing? If people don’t get it at the idea stage, it will be very tough to flourish.
  2. Have I taken the best steps to present my product and make it look its best? Never forget you’re selling all the time – you need to present yourself so people will buy in.
  3. Does the innovation serve a real purpose or is it innovation for innovation’s sake? Make sure you’re solving a real problem, not one you’ve invented to justify your innovation.

What one piece of advice would you offer to entrepreneurs who are developing ideas?

If you believe your idea has the potential to fly, even if the chances are slim, never give up. Patience and persistence will pay off.

Is there anything you would do differently?

We learn from the past but spend little to no time deliberating the past, and all of our focus is on planning the future and activating the present.