This is a story of passion. A story of returning to the roots. It is the story of a friend who involved me early on in his project. It's about a talented software engineer who wanted to continue the tradition of making wine in his corner of Germany. But he also wanted something different: the alliance of tradition and innovation.
Well over a year ago, when Markus told me about the project he and his wife Claudia had to start making wine, I was a bit surprised. You see Markus is a successful and respected IT professional, a fromer colleague of mine; he has three kids and he could really just settle down and live a quiet life. But for Markus and Claudia, creation and challenges are important aspects of life. Aside from this more personal side of things, I was also wondering how somebody could enter an industry about which there is considerable press coverage claiming that it is in a difficult period. Not that this would be entirely new to Markus whose family has been making wine for decades. But still, it is a cut-throat business with high volume producers flooding the market and holding key distribution positions. Markus wanted to do something different: achieve top quality, guarantee remarkable customer experience and go direct to eliminate the cost of distribution. To do that Markus and Claudia went through a process of reviewing each step of production and distribution, workign on marketing communications and sales methods... Now, that's quite interesting...
I am always fascinated by innovative entrepreneurial endavours. They don't have to be in high-tech; innovation can happen anywhere and there is no such thing as a low tech business in my opinion; there are conservative and conventional managers, but not low-tech businesses. A product like wine becomes a commodity only when marketers are tired and become rigid in their ways of doing.
Over a year later, the first bottles of Jostock-Bülhoff wine are available for sale. The site is up and running and the owners have tons of ideas in stock to make this wine experience a memorable one for customers. I purchased some wine with them this day as I am curious to discover the innovative packaging with the stainless steel cap that allows you to reclose the bottle without risks of leaks. In fact I have been lucky to taste their wines and there is no doubt in my mind about the quality of the product itself.
Interestingly Markus and Claudia have found a way to raise funds to finance the growth of their business. They sell shares of future production, which is a sort of asset backed security scheme, again direct and with no intermediaries. Of course, they are not offering that on a large scale and it is not advertised; the system is reserved for their network of supporters. I decided to buy a few shares and to use part of the wine I will be entitled to under the share scheme for business gifts. Let's say it is my way of spreading the word about this fine project.