Entrepreneur Report – Henry Olson – 8 Bells Winery

I’ve lived within a literal stones throw from an urban winery for the past three years. Despite my proximity, it took me a good six months to realize it even existed. Eight Bells Urban Winery is based in a cramped little warehouse. It isn’t necessarily small but it certainly feels that way as you stand next to a forklift while barrels of future vintages tower over you. The winery is run by three retired sailors who have been making wine together the last five years but whom hold almost 90 years of combined experience.

The winery is unlike any other I have seen. Their nautical theme is more a collection of personal memories strewn across the walls. The certificates of their passages through the Antarctic or across the equator shine down and grant an air of authenticity. There is no frilliness to this place. They have positioned themselves beautifully by displaying their qualifications and asking the customer to trust them. The odd part is how well it works. Despite this rough sounding exterior, Frank, Tim, and Andy make some amazing and moderately expensive bottles of wine. The cheapest bottles come in at ~$20 while the more expensive will top $50. At the few restaurants they let sell their wine, the prices triple. The authenticity the owners and winery exude keeps their clients coming back for more, forming a valuable brand loyalty in a market saturated with “new and exciting”. It is important to note that this authentic theme works well because of who the owners are. Perhaps the best lesson is that each company can sell best in a particular way and that one of the keys to success is to find your strengths and capitalize on them.

I suppose in some ways their business model is similar to others. They enjoy selling directly to the consumer, forgoing a distributor in favor of remaining small and stable. Their weekly wine tasting is where they do the majority of their business. In the age of rapid growth, I asked them why they wouldn’t want a distributor helping them sell. They have been receiving numerous awards, including USA Todays “Top 10 Urban Wineries”, and top ratings for their individual bottles. Franks answer boiled down to personal and professional positioning. Eight Bells Winery could expand. They could follow Red Hook Breweries example and move out to a larger facility in Woodinville. Frank, Tim, and Andy could hire on help and begin mass producing their wine. And if they moved and changed, both the original community market and positioning would be gone. Every business ties together both human and corporation positioning. The pure business reasons for not expanding are few but the personal reasons are enough to convince the Eight Bells owners to stay. The community business model and authentic positioning are profitable enough and give the owners the freedom to keep experimenting.

As the interview is winding down, and the wine tasting is ramping up, I am about to ask Frank where they got their first customers. The answer becomes fairly obvious as I ask and Franks answer confirms it. By making a consumable, they were able to give free sample to their personal networks. The barrier to experimentation by the consumer is very low and the experience enjoyable. Their first customers are actually part of the exclusive Plank Owners Club. Each member was acquired through a free sample tasting and agreed to fund a portion of the original large batch of grapes for the first commercial vintage. In return, each member was given a substantial lifetime discount and early access to the new wines.

Eight Bells has built itself up in a similar way from its first customer to its most recent. They make a great product. They give some away and sell the rest. Their target market is loyal to their brand and they are happy with their position in the market. They may still decide to grow into a major producer one day and if so they will face the challenges of maintaining their identity while growing their market but for now they seem to have found a great balance.


Retention and Referral – Panel Write up

Team AlControl (Henry Olson, Carl Petrillo, Ryan Delacruz, Damian Moreno)

Panel Write up – Referral and Retention (Leigh, Steve, and Brant)

This panel was a pleasure to oversee. The three speakers had a great connection that carried the discussion with very little help from the panelists. While there were many fantastic points made, we would like to focus on three ideas that were brought up regarding retention and referral.

Retention – The best way to retain your customers is by continually astounding them with new content. As a company, you want them to be thinking about how lucky they are to have found your service or product. Retention strategies based on making it difficult for them to leave your service will work but only for a short time. When another service comes along that lets them do without you, they will leave.

Referral – Referral strategies boil down to making a great product and politely giving the client the opportunity to spread the word about you. Referral is much more effective when you simply ask if there is anyone they know who might want this product. You should not bog down the customer with survey requests on your performance as this will seem tedious and they will then be less likely to refer you to their network.

Referral – Offering a reward for referring a new client can be a great way to get people to bring in new customers for you but you must always make the reward match the target group. Brant mentioned a shirt designing company that sold $300 dollar shirts but offered a $20 referral reward. While $20 is nice for a student, if you are buying $300 shirts, it is almost meaningless. In this case, the referral reward wound up being small enough that Brant was unwilling to refer his friend as it would seem odd when his friend found out that he had gotten $20 for it.

These are just a few of the stories and ideas we walked away with. The three speakers seamed very knowledgeable and would have been easy to talk to for hours rather than just the 45 min we had.

Blog 4 – A reflection upon jewelry and AdBlocker

I started this assignment wondering where to find these adds. I hadn’t seen any in quite a while. Then I uninstalled AdBlocker. It turns out there are quite a few.

I visited the Forbes website and was scrolling through some articles. I kept noticing ads for jewelry stores. As I had just picked up something for my wife, these ads were not too surprising. They were, however, ineffectual. I had already made my purchase and was not planning on picking up any more. Jewelry seems to be a poor thing to market in this fashion (to me at least) since I only buy it periodically and never really make an impulse purchase of it.

While it seems that online advertising has potential, it needs to be marketing the right product. It also needs to find a way to deal with AdBlocker.

Blog #3 – Mitoo – Mobile Sports Network

I choose to examine Mitoo, a mobile sports networking app for smart phones. Mitoo allows for parents and players to keep track of their sports leagues. Mitoo helps you track where and when your games are as well as the statistics from previous matches. Mitoo also appeals to sports teams and leagues as it allows them to advertise for new players.

Mitoo is a highly convenient app that could go very far with the right press. For that reason I have chosen to follow two local recreation sports leagues as well as a Seattle Times writer who might be able to help them expand greatly.

Local reporters

Bob Condotta – Reporter for the Seattle Times

While it might be a bit of a stretch for Mitoo to get coverage from a major local writer, Bob Condotta could be just the person they need to help them get in the spot light. Sports writers are slaves to the seasons that they cover. When there is a lull in sports and they still need to write an article, they may turn to an exciting start up in their field. Mitoo shouldn’t expect much anytime soon but by laying the groundwork they may be able to get in an article in the Seattle Times.

Underdog Seattle – Recreational Sports League

This website runs multiple sports leagues for adults in Seattle. This would help Mizoo reach out to the adult community which wants to stay active but already has a busy schedule. Mizoo can help simplify their lives and thus gain them as customers

Seattle Parks and Rec

By following the twitter account of Seattle Parks and Rec, Mizoo can target those people who will be signing up for leagues through the Parks website. Additionally, by proving their value, they may be able to get an endorsement from the P&R Department, thereby funneling many new customers to them.

Assignment # 2 SanTasti, Online Channels


What online channels have they chosen to focus on?
SanTasti has a focused presence in both Twitter (1000 followers) and Youtube. This focus on exposure successfully helped them create a new class of beverage  – the palate cleanser.
–What seems to be their Positioning in the market? – SanTasti has positioned itself as a product that enable its clients (primarily wine tasters) to taste longer and more thoroughly without getting “Palate fatigue”.
–What is/are their Value Proposition(s)? SanTasti is the only beverage that truly clears you palate after tasting food or beverage. This lets the taster continue to accurately taste for longer.
–Do you think they are they successful communicating to their target customer?
Yes – They appear to set up demos at wine tasting events and based on their youtube channel, people love them. Free samples (which gave immediate benefit) were used with great success.
I believe that this product matches well with AlControl, our product which will hopefully revolutionize the way that people think about the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Assignment 1 – Adaptive Biotechnologies, Market Analysis

Adaptive Biotechnologies

There has been a movement occurring among life science researchers and physicians over the past two decades (or more in the physicians case). We have come to the end of the age of the renaissance person; that individual who can complete a scientific project or treat a patient all on their own. There is simply too much for any one individual to know.  Adaptive Biotechnologies (AB) works by taking samples provided to them by researchers or physicians and sequencing the DNA or RNA of the T cells and B cells (the key players in the immune system). This service is desirable by many researchers in the fields of immunology as it allows for a holistic view of activity in B and T cells. AB also provides a valuable tool for physicians as B and T cells will often show activity towards a relapsing tumor prior to when that tumor is evident under current diagnostics.

AB has recognized the need for large scale genomic analysis in a field that has been begging for a solution to lack of qualified genome scientists. What’s more, their market is enormous and growing. The life sciences research market is expected to exceed 37 billion dollars this year while the cancer diagnostics market is forecast to by upwards of 5 billion dollars by the end of 2015 (and go to $138 billion by 2020).  Immunology is estimated to make up 21% of the life sciences research budget which gives AB a 7.7 billion dollar research market and a 5 billion dollar diagnostic market to work with.

The genomic analysis the AB offers is not going to capture that entire market. There is too much diversity of need for their single product to fill. However, they will be able to capture subsets of each market. Immunology researchers who lack training in computer science (currently no Comp Sci courses are required in most immunology programs) but want to do large scale genomic analysis will flock to AB. Likewise, physicians who want to test for cancer relapse but lack sufficient in house testing capabilities will find AB’s product of tremendous value.

Based on their high quality product and booming market, I believe Adaptive Biotechnologies will continue to grow its market share.