Communication Media Group Drinks+ since the first days of existence keeps a close eye on the World’s first Incubator in the wine industry – Incubator Bernard Magrez Start-Up Win.
Because of this initiative more than half a hundred talented and creative wine startups and their teams received their tickets to the big world of wine business. Earlier this year, this fantastic initiative joined the Wine Travel Awards project and very shortly became a winner according to public voting results! Veronika Busel, WTA Managing Partner, spoke with Mr. Sebastien Labat, who is the Director of the incubator and the advisor to the CEO at Bernard Magrez Grands Vignobles, owner of 42 wine estates around the world, among which 4 grands Crus Classés around Bordeaux, France.
Tell me about the concept and philosophy of Bernard Magrez Start-Up Win? Where did inspiration come from to develop the concept?
Bernard Magrez Start-Up Win is a Philanthropy initiative that was launched by Bernard Magrez to help entrepreneurs in the Wine Sector to launch and develop their start-ups. Bernard Magrez thinks he has always been lucky in his career and he wants to “give back” this luck to people who deserve it.
By helping those entrepreneurs, our incubator helps the wine industry to innovate as Bernard Magrez has always done, especially by launching his own internal Research and Development department in 2016 with drones, robots, etc.
As you know, this incubator is the first of his kind, 100% dedicated to start-ups related to wine and wine tourism.
Is this project a personal bet from its front man Mr. Bernard Magrez or it is a collective team work?
This is an initiative from Bernard Magrez. He shares his experience, his network, and his visibility with the young start-ups. But he also asks his team members to share, train and help the start-ups. And of course, we have a full training and support program managed by a dedicated team at the incubator facility, a château now called the Relay of Château Pape Clément. This château is also the headquarter for our R&D Team and for our brand new craft brewery. Our team also produces wine right on the spot there, making it an even greater location for start-ups working in the wine industry.
What is your role within the incubator? Tell about the people and teams that are standing behind this project? Who are the main partners of the project?
I am the Director of the incubator. I have been Bernard Magrez main contact to launch the initiative, establish the strategy, the budget, etc. with him. I have built the support program, I have found some partners, and now I manage 2 great team members, Eva and Elisa, who are on the spot running the operations and the communication with the start-ups, our teams and our partners.
We have many partners on this project: Unitec, Innovin, The Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce with its entity Great Wine Capitals, Digital Aquitaine, KPMG, Aquinov, the CIVB, Ethik Consulting, etc. I can’t list them all but I want to thank all the people who came to visit the incubator, meet the start-ups, participate in the jury, and share their great experience. This is so useful for those entrepreneurs.
What is the difference between programs (PRIMEURS, CEPAGES, CLUB MILLESIME)? Tell about the selection process and the people who are shortlisting the start-ups and about the most important dates not to miss during the year? How to apply to become a participant? Application form is in French, does it mean that your focus is French startups?
We have 4 levels in the program because we want to support start-ups from their “birth” up to the time when they will be fully up and running. The first level, “Cepages”, helps newcomers to know what they will need to work on during the main level “Primeurs”. During the “Primeurs” level, a start-up manager will help the start-up weekly, even daily if needed. The “Alumni” level is for the former “Primeurs” to keep growing and participating in our support program. When they reach the “Millesime” level, they are ready to share their experience, mistakes, and tips with the 3 younger levels.
The common part to all the programs takes place every Thursday when we organize workshops, lectures, meetings with people from the wine industry, videos filming, follow-up meetings, etc.
The selection jury gets together every year in October. Candidates can apply all year long through September. Our jury is made of different members from firms doing accounting with KPMG, intellectual property with Aquinov, coaching with Ethik Consulting, Wine Innovation with Inno’Vin, Wine Tourism with “Great Wine Capitals”, Start-up training with UNITEC and of course the jury includes members of Bernard Magrez Team from R&D, Digital, Wine Tourism, etc.
We have start-ups from the US, Italy, UK, Czech Republic, etc. participating in our program. We are open to international applicants. Those can easily apply thanks to the “Google Translate” tools – Google Digital Workshop is also a partner, they provide our start-ups with an online training workshop every other week.
As I understood the project is non-profit, what are the main objectives for the project and what added value do you want to bring to Mr. Magrez’s business?
As we said earlier, the main target is to “give back” and to help the wine industry to innovate. Of course, when we work with some of the start-ups and become their first client to help them launch their products, this makes us first to use innovating solutions but this is not our main goal.
Since January 2021, how many startups have passed through the incubator and how many of them came to the ¨first league¨? How did you help in the development? Do you already have some cases you would like to share? Tell about some wine tourism startups that are rising and which we should follow?
Today, we have 50 start-ups registered in the 2022 program. We have received about 195 applications in 18 months and have already helped a total of 60 start-ups.
Here are a few examples of actual projects we have started and a few examples of help we have provided the start-ups with, in addition to the regular support program:
- We have agreed to have Château Pape Clément as one of the wines listed in the D-Vine selection to help the start-up prove that its wine glass instant serving machine is providing a great reliable quality solution.
- Products made of grapes made from leather from the start-up Mondin, such as wine bottle holders, corkscrew case, are being sold in our wine shops.
- The Wine Protect heating lamps as well as the Previmeteo sensors are being tested in our vines as we speak, to help validate the technical solution developed by those start-ups with our R&D Engineers.
- “La Vie du Vin” sensors are being tested in our wine cases to track the shipping and aging conditions of our bottles of wine such as light, humidity, vibration, etc.
- We are working with Biomede to track copper in the ground in our wineries and to grow plants there in order to remove this heavy metal from the soil.
- We have purchased VR helmets from “L’Agence Française de RV” fully loaded with Virtual Reality visits of Bernard Magrez main wineries and 4 Grands Crus Classés. Those are used around the world by our sales team and in Czech Republic by the other start-up French Winemaker.
- The Wine Ambassador has been allowed to organize its Official Launch and Press Presentation event at Château Pape Clément, bringing in his 11 Wine Ambassadors to officially introduce them to the media and train them about their new Wine Tourism high level standards.
- Kosher Wine Tour has organized its first familiarization Wine Tour and Stay for the Jewish community, in the 3 Grands Crus Classés of Bernard Magrez, Château Pape Clément, Château Fombrauge and Château la Tour Carnet.
- The online solution platform “Way” is being launched for our Bernard Magrez Luxury Wine Experience Agency to offer local experiences in the area of our Châteaux, directly from our website. This will be live in about a month and will look like the AirBnB Experience for wineries.
- We are looking at the online platform Vintrail to help us build our new Wine Tourism + eShop full solution website
- We have ordered a special art show from the Wine Tourism and Art start-up Mabille & Chaumette for our biggest yearly clients’ dinner in Château Pape Clément.
In your experience with the previous years, what start-up features bring them points and make them more competitive than others? What are the trends among wine start-ups? Are there countries/wine regions that are more fruitful than others?
Some of the most important features for the start-ups are the soft skills of their founders. We all know that start-ups will have to adapt and pivot many times before becoming profitable. The founders are the main strengths of their business.
What main themes are you searching for the 2022 edition? In 2021, start-ups could apply until September, is it the same this year?
The 2023 selection will start in September 2023 for a program kick-off in January 2023. The innovation goes so fast that this looks far away…but I guess we will be looking for start-ups with ideas in Data, e-commerce, environment…and more!
Author: Veronika Busel