Imagine ordering a bottle from your favorite local winery online and having it delivered in time for dinner. That’s the goal of Mike Lawler and Mike Barefoot, the founders of Haymarket, Va.–based VinoWine, an app and website that connects wine enthusiasts with everything wine-related across the country.
Lawler and Barefoot, both former military veterans, became friends in 2009 while working as defense contractors for Courage Services. It was on a business trip in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics that the pair were drinking at a pub when Lawler decided to cut through the confusion and created a pub-finder app on his iPhone. After the trip, a friend had an idea for a similar app for wine.
“I was very shocked that with today’s technology and the Internet that 60 percent of U.S. wineries can’t afford to distribute their wine,” Barefoot said. “It is impossible to find their wines, and there is no central marketplace to sell their wine. Once we discovered that we knew we had something.”
Fast forward four years later: Lawler and Barefoot participated in Y Combinator’s Startup School and became members of 1776. After four years part-timing it, they recently quit their secure defense contracting jobs, and, last month launched Vinowineapp.com. They have personally signed up more than 6,000 wineries from around the country, 600 of which have claimed accounts and now engage on the platform by providing products, information and wine deals.
“There really was no outlet for small-to-medium sized wineries to sell directly to the consumer,” Lawler said. “The only way for them to get their wine is to go into their tasting room.”
They see an opening in the market. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods has effectively put an end to Amazon Wine, which will stop selling online Dec. 31. That means all of Amazon’s vendors will be looking for a new marketplace.
“We own a marketplace that every winery wants to join,” Barefoot said. “We’re not charging wineries, but we take a small convenience fee on every transaction, like Ticketmaster.”
Lawler and Barefoot are thinking big. That means going bigger – a global one-stop shop for wine.
“Eighty percent of wine bought today is for same-day consumption,” Lawler said. “Our goal would be to support same day delivery locally, and then scale it across the world. We can make this work globally. That’s our plan for wine domination.”