“One day we believe we can turn this business into a Unicorn”.
It’s a grandiose claim but one that Tai Alegbe, co-founder of Baacco, the online marketplace for UK wine merchants, is not afraid to make.
An entrepreneur, twin brother (his twin also runs a startup), and ex-city of London broker, Alegbe is also a wine-lover; he has the WSET certificates to prove it. Baacco was launched in 2015 after Alegbe, who had taken time out to research different business sectors in order to give himself the best chance of success, delightedly realised that there was no single dominant player selling wine online.
Baacco offers something different. The chance to shop wines that you won’t find on the supermarket shelves or even at your local warehouse store. The Eureka moment for Alegbe came when he discovered how hard it can be to source great wines online – where local merchants struggle to make themselves noticed. By aggregating all of these merchants onto one marketplace Baacco helps to solve all of their problems at once, and empower consumers at the same time.
Baacco has 4 founders – Federico, a fellow wine lover, is a software engineer whose experience working at OpenTable will be crucial to setting up an effective and efficient platform.
Cosmin, a self-confessed science buff has 15 years’ experience of consumer applications and marketplace technologies, including a stint at Europe’s favourite on-demand online delivery service “Unicorn” JustEat.
Raj is a passionate entrepreneur with 20 years development experience encompassing GoCompare, JustEat and Broadband Choices. A wise old head – always handy in a crisis.
Together the 4 say they are certain “we are onto a good thing here”, and are developing and launching the product in true lean, bootstrapping startup style, first attending the Oxygen and then the Mass Challenge startup accelerators – the experience, they say, has been invaluable, and instrumental in the development of “Decanter”, the firm’s proprietary algorithm that uses machine learning to understand customers behaviour and make appropriate recommendations. The team have also developed a proprietary payment system which they use to pay the merchants after orders have been placed and deliveries made.
Of course, Baacco is an ambitious platform with all kinds of possibilities. Brand or bottle promotion, ratings, reviews, delivery aggregation, and the chance to establish a nationally recognisable brand, to name a few. Doubtless there will be tough times too; hurdles to overcome, investment to attract, traction to demonstrate – but these are the challenges Tai says the team relishes. “We want to get people talking about, buying and celebrating great wines”, says Tai. If we can do that, we’ll have accomplished our goal, but we can keep growing.”
“We’re totally committed to this project”, he says, not to mention excited. The sites’ blog is a revelatory celebration of all things wine-related, from picking the right Burgundy, to the latest gourmand craze, matching great wines to, erm, great insects, apparently.
Tai and his fellow founders are at the forefront of a group of young London entrepreneurs who promise to be the most exciting generation yet. True millennials, they keep in touch via Whatsapp groups where the banter flies and the competition is relentless. It keeps everyone on their toes. Tai’s old workmate, Ryan Shaw, founder of Shoreditch Vape, is another group member.
The upshot of all this competition should be an improved experience for the customer and the wine merchant clients, who so far, are flocking to sign up to the platform, the team says. They can be demanding, and have reputations to uphold.
Baacco may just have the bottle to keep everyone happy – the beauty of the business model is its transparency – the better the service, the bigger the profits. We’ll drink to that – bottoms up!