“FINE WINE RETAILER TANNICO QUAFFS €3.8M IN SERIES A FUNDING,” screams the press release, conjuring up an image of a startup spending all of its newly acquired cash on one giant Dot Com-fueled booze up. Sadly (or luckily for the company’s new backers), this story isn’t that!
Founded by ex-VC Marco Magnocavallo, Tannico is a classic ‘Long Tail’ retail play, matching disparate supply (including wines from smaller wineries) with demand, thus bringing the antiquated fine wine market in Europe online.
It also claims to employ “big data and artificial intelligence” tech to build a “unique taste DNA” of each customer and provide personalised wine recommendations via a feature it calls an “Automated Sommelier”. That sounds a lot like a fancy way of describing a recommendation engine to me. But what do I know…
“After selling Blogo to RCS Media Group and being a VC for several years, I again needed the stress and vibrant energy that only a new startup can guarantee,” Magnocavallo told me in an email. “Having already founded an e-commerce company in the early 2000s, I was intrigued to start a new retail business but in a different vertical”.
Tellingly, he says he chose wine based on two different but strong factors: Italy is the first or second largest wine producer in the world with more than 100,000 wineries, and the Italian online wine market was at only 0.2 per cent penetration and had “huge opportunities of growth in the next few years”. Classic VC thinking that appears to be panning out.
Launched in 2012, Milan-headquartered Tannico already claims a 15 per cent share of the Italian market, stocking over 6,000 wines from over 1,000 wineries. Last year it sold 250,000 bottles of wine to a total of 40,000 customers. Beyond Italy, the company plans to enter the UK market next followed by Switzerland and France.
Meanwhile, Italian VC P101 led today’s Series A, with participation from private investors Matteo de Brabant (founder of Jakala), Maurizio di Robilant (founder of Robilant Associati, described as the Italian market leader in brand advisory and design) and Stefano Saccardi (Board member and managing director at Campari).