How Georgia Beattie created single serve wines

How Georgia Beattie created single serve wines
 

Georgia Beattie doesn’t live up to the Gen Y stereotype. She’s the opposite of lazy, more driven than most people you’re likely to meet, although one thing does ring true, she does have a love of alcohol – namely, wine.

Beattie grew up in the wine industry, as her father was a winemaker, and this gave her an appreciation at a young age of wine and also of the industry’s limitations. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that Beattie realised she wanted to be in the industry.

Beattie, who was 23 at the time, found herself at Melbourne’s Laneway Festival. Not much of a beer drinker, and not a fan of ready-to-drink spirits, Beattie asked for a glass of wine only to be told by the bar manager it was too hard to serve at outdoor events.

This gave Beattie an idea – create single serve wines in plastic glasses which are suitable for the outdoors. Beattie returned home that night and ruined her housemates iron by sealing foil onto plastic wine glasses, experimenting with the design for what would emerge as Lupé Wines.

“I had no idea what I was doing, I did it all wrong,” she says. But now she’s created a product which is shatter-proof, has a shelf life of 12 months and is made of recyclable PET (soon they will be 100% recyclable).

The business officially started production in 2012 and launched in Japan. It is now also in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Australia. In just one year it’s already reached a turnover of $1 million. Beattie has also secured contracts with Treasury Wine Estate, the AFL, Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival and a major golf tournament.

Women’s Agenda sister publication SmartCompany spoke to Beattie about her decision to launch in Asia first, the challenges she’s faced so far and launching her upcoming retail offering.

Mornings:

For Beattie, the mornings are her time.

“I’m a big believer in owning a part of the day,” she says. “So for me that’s between 5.30am and 6.30am before the phone is ringing. I’ll usually run or do Pilates.”

After her morning exercise, it’s time for a coffee and to plan the day.

“I create a to-do list and work out who I’m chasing and what I want to achieve,” she says.

“There are usually three main tasks to complete and other smaller ones.”

Daily life:

Beattie’s days are varied as she regularly visits the production factory, the wineries which produce Lupé’s wine and also her office in North Melbourne.

“I move around where I’m needed, but I I’m constantly wearing the exporting, sales and procurement hats,” she says.

“Because it’s me running the business, I’ll also be doing admin, financing and invoicing. My days are all focused around what I decided in the morning is the priority.”

Not a creature of habit, Beattie likes every day to be different.

“I don’t even go to the same coffee place; I’m always mixing it up. As soon as you get comfortable I like to throw myself in the deep end again because I find that’s where I get the most out of myself and I’m pushing myself to new limits,” she says.

“At my age it’s a good time to give everything an absolute belting, as I have nothing to lose.”

At first Beattie struggled to convince the wine industry of how her innovation was worth embracing, but it was her fearless attitude which helped make Lupé Wines so successful.

“It was a challenge to get the wine industry’s head around what this innovation meant to them and how it would make them money, as it wasn’t a risk to them,” she says.

“If you’ve spent 50 years developing a brand like a lot of wine brands have, they’re not going to want to jeopardise that. So we had to prove it was safe by using our own wines in the glasses and show them with sales and behind the bar.”

Beattie made the decision to launch her product in Asia first because she believed the market would be more open to single serve wines.

“I studied in Beijing and have always wanted to do business in Asia. I’ve always learnt and understood how business works in all the countries I’ve visited.

“We’re on the doorstep of a very large market, so it was about leveraging that.”

Beattie has spent this week in China and she’s already travelled to Japan, Korea and Indonesia this year on business.

“That will be a trade show and also a sales round. We’re constantly innovating, which I consider to be a big part of what our point of difference is,” she says.

“I thought putting wine in a plastic glass would be a walk in the park, but it’s bloody hard. Plastics haven’t had much to do with wine and there is no other benchmark in another industry to use. So we had an engineer, a winemaker and a plastics person in a room for a year working on the product.”

To help Beattie in developing her business idea, she took part in the first Springboard Australia program to help Australian women get their businesses off the ground.

“It helped us with capital raising and getting our businesses ready to go through that process. We were given mentors and advice and our businesses were put through a boot camp and tested to see how robust they were,” she says.

“It gave me an insight into what my business would look like in 10 years. That was in February and my business is quite different now in terms of its strategy and business model.”

Eventually Beattie wants to be the leader in the single serve packaging industry across all alcoholic beverages, but her interests extend beyond business.

“I’m actually also really interested in the non-profit sector. I studied in Boston in the States and they have this attitude that you create a commercial, profitable business, but at the same time it has to give back to the community,” she says.

“It’s really different here in Australia and I’m not sure which industry I would go into, but I will increase my not-for-profit participation. I’m also interested in entrepreneurial teaching involving people of less fortunate backgrounds and also fee-paying students. I think the dynamic could be very interesting to get the venture of the ground.”

Beattie’s proudest moment has been seeing her products in some of Australia’s biggest sporting stadiums.

“I have friends taking photos at the MCG of the wines and sending it to me and it’s only the start of what I’m doing.

“I also do a lot of speaking at RMIT and other universities and corporate firms. While I’ve just started my business, I get a lot out of passing on what I’ve learnt.”

Leisure time:

A few years ago Beattie was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease) and this has reshaped her outlook on life.

“I’m a big believer in healthy body, healthy mind. It’s changed the way I eat and sleep and look after myself.

“I was diagnosed not long after I started and now I’m all about having the right amount of sleep, exercising and eating clean raw foods.”

Beattie also has a love of travelling and in India she studied Buddhism and meditation alongside a monk, but ultimately for her working is not a chore.

Future:

Beattie is in the process of launching the retail division of the business, Beattie, which she hopes will be a “force on the retail shelves” come summer, and creating a colourful range of glasses for the warmer months.

“At the end of the day I’d like to be a respected business person in Australia, so I can use that to create social benefits and change which is commercially feasible,” she says.

I also want to create businesses around social change and have money go toward a service which is actually part of building a community.”

Beattie says her biggest challenge is convincing the Australian wine industry of the benefits of single serve packaging.

“It is a game changer in the wine industry and we have a point of difference on the shelf,” she says.

“For individuals who aren’t educated in wine, wine is perceived as intimidating if they don’t have an understanding of wine-growing regions and understand the communication of quality. Our little glasses are cheaper and if you’re very new to wine, you don’t even need a wine glass.”

Mums@Work 17 Oct 13
Source: Womens Agenda
By: Yolanda Redrup / Oct 15, 2013 8:15AM

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