News & Analysis

BlueChilli partners with Brancott Estate to launch wine-focused innovation challenge

- February 4, 2016 3 MIN READ

BlueChilli has today announced the launch of Winexplorer, an innovation challenge that aims to find the next big idea in wine tech. Together with Brancott Estate, BlueChilli is looking for the next pioneer in the wine industry who has a product that will change the way consumers enjoy wine.

Winexplorer will be open to entrants in Australia and New Zealand and will see Brancott Estate working with BlueChilli to select five winetech. Each startup idea will be shared via social media and consumers will be invited to vote for their favourite ideas.

“We are looking to change the wine world again by identifying ideas that will fundamentally change the way people enjoy wine,” said Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker and Winexplorer judge.

“Whether it’s an idea about how people choose what wine to drink, or how they share that wine with their friends, if it’s big, bold and revolutionary, then we want to hear it.”

$35,000 is on offer for the entrepreneur who is best able to articulate how their idea will revolutionise the way people enjoy wine. BlueChilli will consider what level of support the applicant will need to bring their idea to reality and based on this the winner will be considered for startup acceleration with BlueChilli and will have the opportunity to work with Brancott Estate to commercialise their idea.

“Often times in the tech startup industry what we’re looking at are industries to disrupt, industries that have seen a long time between a periods of disruptive change,” said BlueChilli’s chief evangelist Alan Jones.

“We think there’s still massive opportunities for disruption [in wine] because it’s still a marketplace where there’s hundreds and thousands of wine brands out there around the world and millions of wine consumers. We think there’s tremendous opportunities for technology to be used in manufacturing, production and distribution, but most importantly the consumption of wine.”

BlueChilli is looking for people who have already acquired experience as an entrepreneur, though experience in the wine industry is not necessary. Applicants will not required to make build the technology themselves – a feasible idea is all that is needed to create an early stage winetech business.

“We think nothing that we see in the wine industry today is going to go away; there are important reasons to have all of the components in the manufacturing supply and distribution chain, but we think one very interesting area is in the consumer relationship with the wine brands and the wine they love to enjoy,” explained Jones.

“At the moment, many of us walk into a wine retailer and browse the aisles and make a decision based on design of the label and the price. And then there’s the small minority of us who are wine connoisseurs and we go to cellar doors and talk to the people who make the wine. We think there’s an opportunity to fill in the gap between those two experiences.”

Jones said Brancott Estate was chosen as a partner because of its resources and “depth of competency in marketing, communication, distribution and supply and building a brand relationship with the consumer.”

“At the same time they’re still small, lean and innovative enough to be ready to experiment with new technologies and new ways of reaching a wider consumer,” he said.

Colette Grgic, GM for Innovation at BlueChilli, believes that the consumer area of wine consumption is ripe for new ideas and involving the customer in the creation process and getting the end user to co-design great solutions is the new norm. Through Winexplorer, Grgic hopes to see big ideas in winetech turned into viable business opportunities.

Having already dabbled in the wine industry, BlueChilli is no stranger to alternative tech solutions to wine consumption. Last year the company backed Sydney startup WithWine, which offers wineries an alternative sales channel with a wine app that helps consumers connect with wineries and follow what their friends are drinking. The app has a whole range of wineries on board across Australia and has begun to receive interest from importers of foreign wines.

Entries to Winexplorer can be submitted online via brancottestate.com between 4 February and 6 March 2016.

Image: Colette Grgic. Source: The Australian