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Wine Business Services: Wendy Burridge

A start-up business harnesses technology and CRM to create stronger connections between wine producers and the people who love their tipple.

Juliet Pitman

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Wendy Burridge of Wine Business

Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that have the biggest impact. Ask Wendy Burridge, founder of Wine Business Services and recent winner in the 2008 FNB Enablis Business Launchpad Competition. Her business is based on a simple customer relationship marketing concept, but it’s unique in that it targets the wine industry, offering it something no other business has before.

Using a combination of bespoke technology, electronic database management tools and targeted marketing suss, the business offers wine producers a service that enables them to market directly to a database of customers drawn from visitors to the wine farms. Burridge has over 15 years’worth of experience in the wine industry. Having previously produced her own wine, she worked for five years as wine buyer for the Wine of the Month Club. She holds a post-graduate diploma in Wine Business Management and is currently completing a Masters Degree through UCT Graduate School of Business Management.

Seeing the gap

“The degree is done in conjunction with the University of Adelaide in South Australia,so I’ve been exposed to a lot of their wine industry thinking, which sparked the idea for the business,” Burridge explains.“While South African wine farms usually distribute their wines to restaurants and the bottle store trade, very few of them have ever marketed directly to the people who visit their farms on wine tasting trips.

When an individual visits a wine farm, they usually leave their contact details in the visitors’ book, but after they taste and maybe buy some wine, they never hear from the wine farm again.”In Australia and the United States, wine farms actively target this market, but the idea has been slower to gain traction in South Africa.

“I think it’s because our wine farmers’ core competence is making great wine,but not necessarily marketing it, so this opportunity has been overlooked,”Burridge explains. It was a missed opportunity she knew she could rectify. “We help wine farms use and manage this database, and we market the individual farms’ wine club to people on their contact list. This helps to increase their sales in a market sector they previously hadn’t tapped into, and it builds a relationship with this market over the long-term,” she explains.

Drawing on experience

Burridge’s experience as Wine of the Month Club wine buyer gave her an in-depth knowledge of what a wine club needs, which approaches work best with customers and how to manage a database to optimum effect.“It’s not that some wine farms don’t already have wine clubs, but most of them lack the technological infrastructure, staff and expertise to manage them professionally.

What we offer in services like bulk sms’ing, newsletter capacity and online mailing adds a whole new dimension,”she says. If wine farms don’t yet have a database, Wine Business Services helps them to create one.

Conducting research

Burridge’s experience also gave her a solid contact base within the wine industry and when the time came to test her idea, she conducted research among various top-end wine farms to gain their opinions. “I had put together a basic business plan of how I thought the concept would work, and what the benefits to them would be, and I tested the waters with it.

The response I got was very positive. In fact, of all the wine farms I approached when conducting research, only two did not sign up in the end, and this was only because they didn’t have enough stock for wine club purposes,” she explains.

She invested 15 months’ worth of research into the concept before deciding to leave her job and open her own business. “While I looked at the international market, I also spent a lot of time considering how it needed to be tweaked for the local wine industry,” she explains.

Developing the business model

These adaptations make Burridge’s business model unique. “We use a basic wine club model in which members sign up and agree to make a certain number of purchases each year. That’s standard but our approach is far more personalised.

We operate as an extension of the wine farm’s marketing function, and our concept gives people far greater choice in the wine they receive,” she says.The business’s operations are geared not only towards marketing and delivery, but also towards getting to know customers really well.“My IT knowledge is very limited, so I partnered with an IT expert, George Bottome, who developed unqiue software that meets all our needs,” says Burridge, who describes the partnership as “the smartest thing I could have done,”.

The system is a one-stop database management and marketing shop – it allows us to do everything, from making personal notes on conversations with customers, to doing direct invoicing, sending out newsletters and tracking the activities of call agents,” she adds.

Internal growth

Burridge currently employs three full-time call agents to conduct marketing and sales calls, an office support manager to handle the logistics operations of the business, and a temporary sales agent and data capturer. Wine Business Services, like many small start-ups, had humble beginnings, but this hasn’t hampered its growth.

“I started the business with just R20 000, which I used to buy a computer and printer, and I operated out of my mother’s garage,” Burridge explains. She resigned from her full-time job in March 2008 and had signed up her first client by May in the same year.“I didn’t take a salary for five months – all the profit I made was ploughed back into the business.” This gave the business the crucial capital it needed to develop bespoke software and invest in more sophisticated systems.

Capturing the market

Because she’s offering something unique in the South African market, Burridge has found it relatively easy to sign up clients. “Other than the research I conducted among various wine farmers, I never marketed the concept. But I’ve managed to sign up 12 clients in the first seven months,” she explains.

These clients include some of South Africa’s best-known and prestigious producers – Spier, Rustenberg, Glen Carlou, Rupert &Rothschild, Lanzerac, Graham Beck and Simonsig are just some of them. “South Africa has around 4 000 primary wine producers and over 780 cellars crushing grapes, but only 15% of these are really high-end producers.

We’ve targeted this upper-end segment of the market for a number of reasons. Firstly they are already well-known and have a good reputation, and they make a product that’s of the highest quality. This is very important because if I am to promote their wine, I need to believe in it.Secondly, their size means they are more likely to have the capital to invest in the monthly retainer we charge,” Burridge says.

Benefiting from Launchpad 2008

The FNB Enablis Business Launchpad Competition will open new doors for the business. “I’ve never entered anything like this before, and it was really exciting to be nominated first as a finalist and then to be chosen as a winner.

In addition, the process has been very valuable as we’ve been exposed to some fine entrepreneurial minds,” Burridge says.This network will continue to widen. In addition to a package of technology prizes that include a laptop computer, cell phone equipment and software, all winners have been offered a free year’s membership in the Enablis network of entrepreneurs.

This membership brings with it the benefits of business training and online resources and support. All winners also benefit from 12 month’s worth of high-level mentorship support from an experienced business achiever. As a winner, Wine Business Services will also receive a profile in The Sunday Times.

Although competition winners do not receive a cash prize,they are allocated to a funder who will work with them as a funding partner to tailor-make appropriate funding. This could take the form of a loan guarantee,a loan on special terms, or an equity investment. Businesses such as Burridge’s are typically unable to get funding from banks on ‘standard commercial terms’.

Consolidating and looking to the future

“Our biggest challenge at the moment is to consolidate, to fine tune our systems before we grow,” says Burridge, who’s well aware of the dangers of growing beyond the business’s capacity.“Our goal is to remain small enough to be able to offer our unique personalised and niched service, but to be large enough to have the infrastructure to deliver and get the job done,” she explains.

She’s also looking at opportunities in the wine distribution market through direct marketing and telesales and has already signed up one distributor. With increased call agent capacity the business will be able to market special offers and new releases to distributors’ restaurant and bottle store clients, thereby boosting the services of their representatives.

“The next exciting thing on the horizon involves marketing to wine farms’ international visitors. We’ve installed a VoIP system and will make use of the farms’ existing overseas distribution networks. The international visitor is not just a pop-in guest. These are usually people who’ve done research, and carefully selected which wine farms they want to visit.

They’re an interested, motivated, ready-to-buy market and one loses out on such a great opportunity by not tapping into this,” she concludes.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 28 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 28 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

Related: Albert Van Wyk Of Gazzaroo Gives Top Advice On How To Make Your First Million

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Meet Jan Grobler: Serial entrepreneur, Advocate, And Job Creator

It is the authors’ sincere hope that young South-African entrepreneurs will learn from wiser business men such as Jan Grobler and co-create a vibrant and legacy driven entrepreneurial environment in our country.

Dirk Coetsee

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Jan Grobler has either directly or indirectly created 10 000 jobs and he is not done with forming a lasting legacy. The author can call on various titles in an attempt to describe this serial entrepreneur: Advocate, Founder, Franchisor and Project manager, yet no label can fully embody his unique skill set, experience, and entrepreneurial spirit.

As a highly enthusiastic observer of business leadership traits in others, I noticed Jan’s’ strong willed and passionate intent to create more businesses, ignite exponential growth within them, and ultimately deliver numerous job opportunities to South-Africans, from the onset of the interview.

As an advocate and MBA graduate Jan had a solid academic foundation that served him well on his entrepreneurial journey. “Working back” the bursary he had from Sanlam he values the learning he received from older and wiser entrepreneurs that he had established trusts for. He learnt to be a good listener and increase his emotional intelligence by making mental notes when the older entrepreneurs imparted some of their wisdom and experience and then taking action on the accumulated learnings.

Related: The Anatomy Of Peak Performance

The value of being a “Global Citizen”

coffee2go

Jan is a global citizen and has “back packed in 46 countries” accumulating cultural and business learnings as he travelled. He shared an example of waitresses in a South-American country “doubling up” as secretaries offering additional services such as fax and the recording of minutes of meetings thereby adding more dimensions, services, and income streams to a coffee shop operation.

The words rolled of his tongue with enthusiasm as he described how modern times has provided multi-dimensional opportunities for an entrepreneur such as being in your office in Centurion, South-Africa, purchasing products online from China , and then selling online to purchasers in Italy. Jan sees the future of franchising in South Africa as moving more and more towards “mobile outlets”. He has extensively researched the international “mobile franchising market” and is very excited about the possibilities for growth in South-Africa with regards to this market segment.

He is one of the founders of Fit chef and is currently developing the franchise system “Cafe2go”(Mainly a mobile concept) of which there are currently twenty five outlets. On his entrepreneurial journey Jan has developed eighteen brands of which he was a cofounder and as a contracted project manager he has assisted in facilitating the exponential growth of hundreds more companies.

Channels and revenue streams

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As the aroma and taste of another Cafe2go Cappuccino held my attention Jan elaborated on four more revolutionary franchising concepts that he is co-developing. He said that success in business is highly dependant upon doing things better than others and offering a unique service and product.

Related: Business Leadership: Leading A Culturally Diverse Business Team

Jan pointed out that he sees himself as a “channel creator” and it was clear to the author that through his vast experience and entrepreneurial acumen he has a high vantage point from which to see opportunities for the creation various funding models, sales channels and revenue streams, that combined causes exponential business growth.

This entrepreneur is very proud of his first start-up company of which he is still the CEO called Curator. Curator was started to, and still does assist entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, whether it be through growth interventions or for example raising capital or franchising the business.

Jan has never stopped learning whether it be from learnings accumulated from engaging other entrepreneurs or knowledge obtained from books. More importantly he continues to apply this learning in helping businesses to grow and create more and more jobs. Jan is building a legacy that any entrepreneur can be proud of. It is the authors’ sincere hope that young South-African entrepreneurs will learn from wiser business men such as Jan and co-create a vibrant and legacy driven entrepreneurial environment in our country.

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Bob Skinstad On Making An Impact With The 80/20 Principle

The 8020 principle is one of the most powerful success secrets in the world — provided you implement it. Most people have heard of it, few put it into action. Bob Skinstad is re-energising an age-old principle by sharing a collection of real-life examples from highly successful people of 8020 in action. Here’s how you can start embracing an 8020 mindset today — and see phenomenal results in return.

Nadine Todd

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Bob Skinstad
  • What he does: Bob is an ex-Springbok rugby captain, businessman, entrepreneur, a director at venture capital firm Knife Capital and has recently developed an online course for millennials, 8020 Mindset.
  • Visit: www.knifecapital.co.za and 8020Mindset.com

When Gary Kirsten arrived in India in 2008 as the new coach of the Indian cricket team, he recognised he had a key problem. Many of the players on the team were not only more famous than he was, but more skilled as well. How do you coach Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest batsmen of all time, on his stroke? You tell him to keep doing what he’s doing, and get out of his way.

But Gary did need to find a way to build trust between himself and his new team. There were many superstars in Indian cricket, and yet the national team’s results weren’t good, mainly because they didn’t operate as a cohesive unit.

Implementing the 80/20 principle

To really make an impact, he turned to the 8020 principle. What small but significant area could he turn all of his attention towards, to achieve 80% of the results he was looking for?

Related: 8 Lessons Rugby Can Teach Us On Achieving Peak Performance In Business And Life

He realised that the one thing he had that most of the other players on his team did not, was time. Cricket is extremely popular in India, and the members of the national cricket team had a lot of endorsement deals, which meant they were very busy. Whatever happened, Gary knew he could outwork them. For the first 200 days of his contract, he spent every day at the batting nets, from 6am to 6pm. Each time a player came to the nets, he was there, ready to assist them, or simply to show he wasn’t going anywhere. He also spent those 200 days really studying his team members and listening to them.

By leveraging this one key area, Gary built the trust he was looking for, and learnt an enormous amount of information about his players. He found the one place that would make the biggest impact. Three years later, that team went on to win the World Cup.

Game-changing principles

“What’s incredible about the 8020 principle is that it’s relevant in every single facet of life,” says Bob Skinstad, an ex-Springbok rugby captain, businessman and now venture capitalist.

“Gary is just one successful person in his industry who has shared his 8020 experiences with me; there are so many real-world examples. I first discovered it while I was playing rugby in my early 20s, and I read Richard Koch’s book, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less, but I use it in my business development capacity at Knife Capital today, and have applied it in various ways throughout my life and career. It’s an absolute game changer if you understand how to apply the principles, and the success that putting pressure on the right levers can achieve in your life.”

To say Bob is passionate about fostering an 8020 mindset is an understatement. In fact, he believes so strongly in the principle that he approached Richard Koch himself to discuss how he could help millennials to embrace 8020 to lay the right foundations for their own futures and careers.

Sharing and teaching lessons learnt

“Richard has a house in Cape Town. I managed to get his contact details and sent him a long email explaining how we had used his principles in the Springbok rugby team. We were a young team, and we used 8020 to figure out who needed to get their hands on the ball at which times of the game to make the biggest impact. Our game improved markedly once we started applying Richard’s principles, and that led me to implement it in everything I did. Richard loved the fact that we had applied it in such different ways to how he’d laid the principles out in his business management books.

“I really wanted to share all the lessons I’d learnt, and also the experiences of so many other sportsmen, business leaders and entrepreneurs whom I know have used 8020 to achieve success. I didn’t want to write a book though — I thought a course would be more immediate and practical, particularly for millennials, who I believe can really benefit from fostering an 8020 mindset early in their careers. Richard and I collaborated on the course. I wrote the content, recruited a number of my contacts to share their own success stories, and Richard reviewed all the material before it went live. It’s been a great experience, and one I hope will spread the word of how significant a shift to the 8020 mindset can be. Once you understand the principles in action, it becomes the lens you use to make all of your decisions, which has an exponential impact on your life, business and career.”

80/20 in Action

8020-mindset

In all business and personal development theories, there is a vast gap between understanding the theory and actually putting it into practice. Using the 8020 principle on itself, only 20% of the people who are exposed to 8020 will actually implement it, but they will reap 80% of the rewards as a result.

The problem is that reading about a theory is easy. Putting it into practice is hard. It takes discipline, and a real understanding of how the principles work.

If you’ve been exposed to 8020 (also known as the Pareto Principle) before, you know that 20% of a sales team is responsible for 80% of a company’s revenue, 20% of clients bring in 80% of business, and 20% of your actions each day impact 80% of your life. Imagine if you knew which 20%, and could put all of your attention into those key areas. Imagine how you would supercharge your own growth and success, opening hours each day to concentrate on high priority tasks instead of getting sucked into the quagmire of ‘busyness’ we all fall victim to without even realising.

80/20 principle in action

“A few years ago, I was involved in a restaurant in Cape Town. We realised that 80% of the food customers ordered came from 20% of the menu. Through this simple insight, we were able to take a 36-page menu down to two pages. We saved costs on wastage, streamlined kitchen processes, and increased our efficiencies and customer service levels through this one simple change.

“The hardest part is getting started. Once you see success in one area though, you naturally start looking for the 8020 in other areas of your life, and before you know it that’s how you look at everything,” explains Bob.

Related: 5 Things Businesses Can Learn From Rugby

“I see examples of 8020 everywhere, but I also see a lot of what I call ‘2080’ thinking. Take the ‘latte factor’ as an example. A few years ago, the idea took hold in the US (and South Africa) that if you just stopped drinking a latte once a day, you’d save $250 in 100 days. I disagree completely. If you really want to impact your savings, renegotiate your bond with your bank once a year. That will give you a far greater saving than cutting out lattes, and you haven’t deprived yourself of something that makes life pleasant. One key negotiation at the right time will have a much bigger impact on your life — speak to your bank, negotiate a raise — but look at the key area that will have an 80% impact, instead of an almost insignificant impact. That’s where you should be putting your willpower, energy and self-discipline.

“Gym is another great example. We’re told to spend 20 minutes a day at gym. That’s great for your health, and you should do it, but in terms of weight loss and body shaping, it’s negligible if you compare it to changing your eating habits. Gym is 20% of your body. Eating is 80%. Where should you be putting your focus? Instead, we see people gyming and then eating two packets of chips, and wondering why they aren’t losing weight. It’s all about what levers you pull, and where you put your focus.”

Small changes, big results

In 2017, Bob brokered local VC firm Knife Capital’s expansion into the UK. Based in the UK, Bob’s role as a director at Knife Capital is business development — how can Knife Capital assist its investments to build high-impact businesses from a small base?

“Once again, 8020 hits the target every time,” he says. “We’ve recently invested in a Swedish-based business called MOST, which develops environmental monitoring solutions for the transport and shipping industry. An early investor in MOST is King Digital Entertainment, the creator of Candy Crush. We love MOST. It’s tracking really nice numbers, the management team is excellent, the product is next level, the business model allows for recurring revenues — but our aim as an investor is to grow the business. We needed to analyse which areas to concentrate on that will have the biggest impact on growth. Through applying 8020 we realised that 12% of MOST’s current customers are responsible for 82% of the business’s revenues.

“How much energy, time and resources are put into the other 88% of clients who are only responsible for 18% of the company’s revenue? And what can be done to bring more customers on board who are like the 12%, and not the 88% of MOST’s customer base? Focus on the right areas, and you’ll exponentially grow your revenues without increasing overheads or expending more energy — in fact, you could actually do more in less time, with fewer people, if you know where to concentrate your efforts.”

How to apply the 80/20 principle

Bob believes that at its core, 8020 is common sense — you just need to apply your mind to the principles, and ask the right questions: What’s your 8020? Who are your biggest customers, where are you spending most of your time, which actions have the biggest impact, and where are your waste areas? And in each case, can you 8020 the results you’re looking for? What’s the 20% that will generate 80% of your returns, or impact 80% of your success? What’s the 20% that will affect the world and your customers’ lives and businesses?

Local entrepreneur Keith Rose-Innes shares how he increased Seychelles’ fly-fishing tourism industry by 600%:

Keith Rose-Innes built his profile and expertise to become the go-to-guy for building fly-fishing trips around the world. Based on this expertise, Seychelles tourism hired him to increase visitor numbers to their islands.

The Seychelles is isolated and expensive. Keith did his research, and discovered that only 20% of fly-fishing agents were responsible for most of the fly-fishing trips booked around the world. Instead of spreading his efforts, he concentrated exclusively on those top agents, pitching the reasons why they should promote the Seychelles to their clients. Within six months he’s increased year-on-year sales on the islands by 100%. This grew to 600% over the course of four years — simply because Keith focused his efforts where he would have the greatest impact.

Related: Joel Stransky Shares His Insights On What Makes A Great Leader


Take the course

8020 Mindset is a five-hour online course endorsed by Richard Koch and presented by Bob Skinstad. It’s designed to help participants think like results-orientated super-performers.

Visit: 8020mindset.com or email info@mindset.com for more information on the course and corporate talks.

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