Vinovest’s CEO Anthony Zhang has a pretty inspiring story. He recently turned 26 but has already successfully built and sold two companies, secured funding from Mark Cuban and Mark Burnett, and received a Thiel fellowship grant to build businesses.
Anthony is now the founder and CEO of his third company: Vinovest, and will be sharing details about his fine wine investing platform with us in his exclusive interview with TechBullion.
Please tell us your name and a little more about yourself?
My name is Anthony Zhang, and I’m the cofounder/ CEO of Vinovest, based in Los Angeles.
I previously built and sold two companies: last-mile campus food delivery service EnvoyNow and investor rating platform KnowYourVC.
While I was still in college, I received funding for EnvoyNow from Mark Cuban and Mark Burnett. Then, when I was offered a $100,000 Thiel fellowship grant, I ultimately decided to drop out and pursue my entrepreneurial ventures full time. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is Vinovest?
Vinovest is an alternative investments platform that is democratizing access to fine wine. We combine world-class wine expertise with technology to make wine investing friendly and approachable.
Why fine wine, what inspired you to start a fine wine investing business?
My interest was piqued after upon reading an article about the global wine market, and how it had more or less consistently outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 40 years. Upon looking into this asset class further, my cofounder and I realized there were significant barriers to entry that prevented everyday retail investors from accessing this opportunity to build wealth. First were the major costs involved—the overheads associated with storage and insurance, as well as excessive transaction and broker fees. Furthermore, without the requisite knowledge, it can be hard for novice investors to know quite where to begin. Add to that the industry’s opaque pricing models, and limited access to liquidity channels, and we knew there had to be a better way.
How does it work, could you give us a walkthrough of the unique features and services users get from the Vinovest wine investing platform?
For one low fee, and with a minimum investment of just $1,000, Vinovest takes care of all the headaches traditionally associated with building a fine wine portfolio (selection, authentication, storage, insurance, shipping, liquidity etc.). Our wine council includes three Master Somms who, joined by an Advanced Sommelier and with some algorithmic assistance, help to determine the selection of wines that go into Vinovest investment portfolios. We also aim to foster a community, making the experience fun and educational via perks such as exclusive tasting events for our investors.
What is the current global market size of the fine wine investing market and what is the level of demand for a platform like Vinovest?
Recent estimates place the size of the global fine wine market just north of $5 billion. We’re seeing incredible demand for our offering—in the last 12 months alone, the number of customers using our platform has increased 1900%.
Who are your competitors in this industry and how is Vinovest different from other fine wine investing platforms in the market?
There are several wine investment platforms out there, but there a few key factors that we believe differentiate Vinovest from other fine wine investment platforms:
- Low minimums. Vinovest investors can get started with as little as $1,000, making it easier for everyday investors to enjoy the benefits of this wealth-building asset class.
- Tangible ownership. Unlike some platforms that allow customers to invest in vineyards, or that offer fractional ownership of expensive wine bottles, Vinovest makes it possible for people to buy actual bottles and cases of investment-grade wine outright.
- No liquidation fees. If a user wants to enjoy their wine, Vinovest is happy to make that happen. Our customers can request wines from their portfolio whenever they like, and for any reason—we handle shipping and insurance, leaving them to simply enjoy their wine.
- User-friendly platform. We’ve built a really user-friendly and intuitive technology interface that makes it effortless—not intimidating—for customers to engage with their wine portfolio. We’re keen to place them squarely in the driver’s seat.
- Sustainable business operations. We’re taking a proactive approach to curb carbon emissions through our carbon offsetting program, as well our ongoing commitment to reducing unnecessary travel and shipping in the wine sourcing process.
Please tell us how both the wine producers and investors benefit from the Vinovest wine investing platform?
We help wine producers and merchants reach a much larger segment of younger customers than they might otherwise. Many of our users are individuals just embarking upon their wealth accumulation journey, and subsequently there is tremendous potential for growth. We also partner with wineries by giving them access to our pricing insights that can help them more accurately forecast demand.
For our investors, there is the opportunity to achieve diversified returns with an asset class that has long been out of reach.
What is next on your roadmap and what are the current opportunities available for investors and partners at Vinovest?
Driven by the success of our wine investment platform, and as a response to strong consumer appetite, we’ll be launching our WhiskeyVest offering in H2 2021. Our aim is to also make investing in rare whiskey simple and accessible. Interested parties can visit www.whiskeyvest.co to get on the waitlist!
We’re also hiring for a variety of positions, so if you like the sound of what we’re doing at Vinovest, feel free to review our current employment opportunities (all remote) at www.vinovest.co/careers.
Alternative investing like in stocks and cryptocurrencies always come with high risk, how safe is online wine investing?
Wine is rather different—in fact, it’s generally more stable than most other investments during periods of global economic downturn. It enjoys a low correlation with the global stock market, meaning that its value is largely unaffected by volatility. Instead, value is driven by supply and demand. Furthermore, fine wine is inherently scarce, which allows for greater price appreciation than many other asset classes. On average, in 2020, Vinovest customers achieved returns of 17.8%.
Do you have more information for our readers?
We’d love if you visited www.vinovest.co and checked us out!