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Babson Business: Draconis Vineyards


Name of Business:  Draconis Vineyards.  Website currently offline for federal compliance; contact Matt Powell at for more information.

Mission:  California Winery Start-up

Founder:  Matt Powell;; 916-690-4953; MBA FastTrack Grad

Began:  2006

Revenues:  I've pre-sold enough of vintage 2006 to break even…I'll have a 2007 vintage now.  Since the wine cycle is the fall of each year for smaller wineries, most revenues are generated at release and through marketing events.

Initial Investment: Most of the initial investment was for compliance work, lawyers, and other misc. start-up costs.  Since I also have one foot in the technical industry, I was able to barter my skill sets for things such as new barrels, chemicals, and fruit.  I guess that's about as low cost as you can get… (smile).

Broke Even:  Already, although the product is still in barrel.  I don't actually collect revenue until the wine is done and ready to ship.  Only then will I actually have some cash flow.

Where:  Lodi, California

Employees:  Wine is a seasonal business and so are the employees.

Founder's Past Life/Business:  Technology Engineering Manager

How the Idea Began:  I've been studying the Wine Industry for the better part of 15 years, guess it was time to actually do something about it!

Initial Preparation:  Ramped up on my ideas with a business plan, financial models, and a milestone chart.

Favorite Thing about the Business:  The freedom to choose my product and how I want to present it.  It's a labor of love that gives me the feeling that I've actually accomplished something that people…really seem to enjoy.

Worst Thing about the Business:  Being covered head to toe in grape juice—you end up super sticky.

Biggest Challenge:  Selling

Lesson Learned:  Never underestimate the generosity of people.