CellWine is a Taiwan-based startup that developed wine management software and provides wine storage and marketplace services. The CellWine app was launched in June 2017 and has attracted over 300K downloads, with over 30K MAU.
In a recent interview with CIO Bulletin, CellWine founder Mario Fang discussed his seven-year journey in providing a complete wine experience for all wine lovers, collectors, enthusiasts, and explorers.
Q. Tell us about CellWine founding journey and how did you guys get started?
For over 20 years, I managed a PR and marketing firm that worked with companies like P&G and SONY. In 2016, Publicis Groupe, an French base communication group firm bought out my agency. I started pondering what I should do next at that point, and that’s when CellWine was born.
I have had a 15-year fascination with wine. ‘The Drops of God,’ a Japanese manga story about wine, was the inspiration for everything. I have amassed more than 3,000 bottles of wine over the course of the previous 15 years, and as my collection grew faster, I began to wonder, “Why is there no way for such a wine fanatic as me to organise my collection?” CellWine enables wine lovers to recognize, track, manage, share, exchange and even trade their wine with each other.
I feel that the whole founding journey was like a bottle of Burgundy. At first, it had a sour flavor, but as time went on, it developed a bitter-sweet taste.
Q. Among other popular wine apps such as Vivino, Decanter, VinoCell, etc., what makes CellWine stand out from its competitors?
We are not making a Google for wine, but an end-to-end wine management system.
It took us some time to build a solid wine database and collect wine price on the market, because there is no central database for wine valuation. So far, we already have 1,200,000 kinds of wine in our database. Meanwhile, we’re also the top five wine management app in the world with 120,000 active users in Taiwan, Korea, followed by France, Italy and Canada.
Recently, we launched an exclusive ‘on-demand cellar service’ for members. You may have a space exclusively for your beloved wine by spending only NTD $20/bottle for a month. CellWine users typically have 50 bottles in their collections, and the majority of these users are in their 30s or 40s. In the past, there was no ideal solution for this category of wine collectors. You can only buy a wine fridge at home or rent a wine cellar outside with other people. (Each wine cellar may accommodate up to 120 bottles at a time.) Being an amateur wine collector is too costly, that’s the main motivation of how mini wine cellar idea came up. We have already received more than 15,000 bottles since this service was launched, and the market price for those wines now hits more than NTD $50M.
With this O2O service, we aim to build a ‘Wine bank’. Wine is not only a consumer product, but also an investment that you may want to collect, exchange and trade. We offer a well-organized platform and a high-quality control procedure to maintain the maturity, humidity, and general condition of our users’ wine collections. In the future, we hope to offer our C2C solution, which allows users to not only manage their own collection, but also buy and sell wine on CellWine.
Generally, we regard wine as an investment, instead of a consumer product.
Q. Just out of curiosity, could you tell us more about your global expansion plans?
We notice that there’s growing need for wine management solution in some countries such as Korea, Japan and Thailand. In some big cities like Seoul and Tokyo, they encounter common difficulty due to limited storage space. Among 300,000 users on CellWine, more than 15% of them are from Korea. We have nearly 45,000 Korean users second only to Taiwan. That’s why they become our target market now.
CellWine now has its own cellar in the center of the Taipei city. We provide our users with wine storage service, and will launch our C2C platform soon, as I said. In terms of our expansion plans, we intend to extend our service to the whisky market.