Featured Alumni Business – WineKick: The Wine Sidekick
Dano Qualls, M’ 14, is the cofounder of WineKick: The Wine Sidekick. As an entrepreneur, he loves building and running his business. For Dano, the best part is imagining something beautiful and useful, then facing the creative challenge of bringing it into existence. He reveals the inspiration behind his business, the biggest surprise so far, as well as his favorite (and least favorite!) parts of running WineKick.
What’s the mission or description of your business?
We create wine recommendation kiosks for liquor and grocery stores. If customers have questions about the best wine to pair with dinner, bring to a party, or want a particular flavor profile, our kiosks recommend a style of wine, give a reason why it’s a great match, and then recommend specific bottles of wine. The bottle recommendations include descriptions, label photos, and a map of where to find it in the store. We help customers choose wine with confidence and try new things, while helping stores sell more wine and sell higher-priced wine.
Where is your business located?
Right here in Boston, but our free mobile app is available to any iPhone user
What inspired your business?
We started off creating a wine recommendation app for mobile phones, but the B2C marketplace is incredibly crowded and we couldn’t find a good business model. B2B was far less crowded and had the potential for profitability much faster than B2C, so we pivoted.
How did the idea begin?
I love wine. I’ve loved wine for years. I would often get texts from friends asking me for recommendations, and I thought “There has to be an app for that.” Turns out there are a few, but they aren’t any good. I wanted to create one that would be easy and intuitive for beginners, with a beautiful design, and have the depth to explain why to try a new wine with a difficult name.
What is your favorite thing about the business?
Watching the kiosk make people happy.
And your least favorite?
Going store to store trying to sell the kiosk.
What is your most recent business accomplishment?
We are in two stores now: Colonial Spirits in Acton, owned by fellow Babson alum Tim Bush M’10, and BLM in Allston.
What’s been your biggest surprise with the business?
Two friends of my co-founder think it’s a great idea and want to sell it to local stores, so now we have a salesperson in Florida and one in California!
For more on WineKick:
- Listen to the WineKick podcast, “This American Wine”
- Dano can be reached at email@example.com