Next Glass provides a wonderful solution on how to describe wine tastes dilemma. They are the winner of Elance’s Bold Idea Pitch Competition and we are lucky to have an opportunity to interview Kurt Taylor, CEO and founder of Next Glass to find out more about them.
Kurt tell about how he found Next glass and his secret recipe to win Elance’s Bold Idea Pitch Competition. He also mentioned how our explainer video help him win the competition. Thanks a ton Kurt!
Here are the interview details:
Hi Kurt, thank you for the chance to have this interview. It is a pleasure to have this with you, as the founder of Next Glass. Recently, you have had success on Elance’s Bold Idea Pitch Competition. What were the main factors that led to such success?
Kurt: Hey Andre, thanks for having us today. We’re grateful for the opportunity and excited to tell your readers about Next Glass.
The Elance Bold Idea Competition was a great time and the other presenters had excellent ideas. I believe that the reason we were able to differentiate ourselves was because first we’re addressing a big and real problem in a huge worldwide market, and we are able to do it very effectively with some pretty cool science and software.
Andre: You hired us to produce a video for Next Glass, do you think our video help you get more conversions, or in this case, more vote?
Kurt: Andre, the video that Bread n’ Beyond made for us is incredible! Out of all the marketing materials we have put together, it has definitely been the most effective. I mean, the video alone got us into the finals of the competition!
As far as conversions, at this stage we are raising our Series A round of capital. As an introduction to these interested investors, we send them some info on Next Glass which contains a link to the video. So far, the conversion rate on this has been extremely high. Almost everyone that sees the video reaches out to us saying they must learn more!
Andre: How would you describe Next Glass?
Kurt: At Next Glass, we’re building some really cool software. We’re engineering a recommendation engine for WINE. Using any device, our patent-pending software will help consumers discover wines they are certain to enjoy. It’s part software and it’s also part science. Over the past year, we’ve created the world’s first Wine Genome Cellar, which will contain the DNA of every wine sold in the US. This database houses an incredible amount of data over 22k chemical elements for each bottle which helps our software provide the most accurate recommendations possible. There’s a lot more to it like business analytic, a B2C + B2B AdWords like advertising platform, etc. So if your readers are interested in learning more they can visit our website www.nextglass.co or check out the video you all made www.nextglassvideo.co!
Andre: I saw that the reason why you founded Next Glass is a personal problem, can you tell us more about the problem?
Kurt: Sure, it all started about a year and a half ago when I decided that enough was enough. I was tired of the confusing wine lists and overwhelming wine aisles. The tipping point occurred when I was at an Italian restaurant with my Dad. We wanted to split a bottle of wine, but we looked at this list and didn’t recognize a single wine on the restaurant’s menu. We couldn’t even pronounce half of them, it was really frustrating. So we flagged down our waiter and asked for his help. He asked us a few questions to gauge our preferences and then all of sudden said, “Alright! I’ve got it! You all need to try this wine.” He went on to describe it as “rich and velvety with a complex finish” or something like that. He also told us that it scored a 92 on Robert Parker’s scale and that it was one of his personal favorites. With that endorsement, how could we say no? So our waiter brings out the wine and we try it. It turns out that we both thought it was terrible and so this sparked a conversation between the two of us. We couldn’t understand why we received a “bad” bottle of wine. It wasn’t because the waiter didn’t know wine, because he did. It wasn’t because the restaurant didn’t have good options, because I’m sure they had plenty. What we realized that night was that there’s no universal language for wine. So what tastes like one thing to me, could come across very differently for you. And the fact that everyone’s tastes are different is the reason we came up with Next Glass. We want to remove the struggle from wine selection by making sure that consumers only drink wine they know they’re going to enjoy.
Andre: Why do you think it is important? Robert Parker is a tasting genius! Don’t you think it is a matter of luck (or in your case, I guess it’s unlucky!) or a bad delivery by the Sommelier?
Kurt: Robert Parker may be a tasting genius, I don’t know. But either way, that doesn’t mean that anyone else is going to be able to effectively use his descriptions or his ratings to select wine. I mean really, when Parker says a wine tastes like leather, tobacco, and blackberries, how many people find that useful in selecting a wine? I don’t believe many, and that’s why out of the 81 million people in the US who drink wine regularly, less than ¼ of 1 percent subscribe to his service. It’s just not effective.
The fundamental problem is that everyone’s taste is personal and no one has successfully developed a universal language to effectively describe wine. Today’s recommenders like Parker, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast do their best to recommend wine using subjective adjectives and vague ratings systems. The problem is that sweet to one person is dry to another and subjective descriptors like chalky, tobacco and leather and aren’t helpful to most people while they’re selecting a wine.
Next Glass solves this problem with its Wine Genome Cellar. It’s the world’s only universal language to effectively describe wine, and it does that by objectively defining each wine at the chemical level. After that, our software learns what you like and then delivers great recommendations to your phone, tablet or computer. It’s simple, you tell us a wine or two that you like and Next Glass will make sure that you never drink a bad wine again.
Andre: How long did it take to build Next Glass?
Kurt: We are still in the development stage of Next Glass. Right now we have a prototype of our recommendation software, and we’ve used that to prove out the concept for our investors and partners. The chemical data we have compiled in our Wine Genome Cellar is incredible, and it has allowed us to provide beta “tasters” with awesome recommendations. We are very excited about what’s in store because we believe our unique combination of software and science is going to be a game-changer!
To further refine our prototype, we applied, and were chosen as, the next Kaggle Start up Company (www.kaggle.com). This is a big deal for us because Kaggle hosts machine-learning competitions for businesses and gets top “data scientists” to work on their projects. Our Kaggle competition will begin in the next couple of weeks, and we are really excited to get going.
After this is all said and done, we anticipate launching our software in the first quarter of 2014, with an early focus on the east coast of the United States.
Andre: How much user base Next Glass currently has?
Kurt: Our software isn’t available to the public yet. We will be expanding our beta test in a couple of weeks though, and anyone interested in participating can sign up on our website.
I know that you already got an advisor, which already involved since we work on your video. How did George join the board?
We have been really fortunate to sign up incredible advisors. We have experts in science, software, law, finance, and startups working with us. Their insights have been invaluable. Combined, they have sold over 10 businesses, including the IPO of a big software company, and have raised capital for countless more. This is a very experienced group, and it has been an honor to work with them.
Andre: How do you reach your audience, which basically are wine lover?
Kurt: Our software is multi-faceted. We have platforms for consumers and businesses that sell wine. We have several avenues for reaching these markets, but until we launch, I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep our strategy confidential.
Andre: How you differentiate yourself from the competitors? Do you have any competition at all?
Kurt: I’m not sure if I would call them competitors, but the status quo for recommendations in the industry is provided by wine publications like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Robert Parker. Again, these companies try to define a wine through subjective reviews containing lots of crazy adjectives. The problem with this is two-fold. First, as I said before, very few people find these adjectives useful because they have a hard time understanding what a “complex” wine tastes like. And second, even if you are very familiar with wine and its terminology, your tastes won’t necessarily match that of Robert Parkers. So Parker might describe a wine as dry and complex with a hint of blueberries, while you think it tastes bitter and flat. That doesn’t make him right and you wrong. That just means you all perceive taste differently. And that should be expected because everyone’s taste is unique, and really, that’s why the marketplace needs Next Glass.
Andre: Thanks for your answers, and I really appreciate your willingness to spend time and have an interview with us. Just curious, do you plan to create more explainer videos in the future to help you deliver more ideas and presentations?
Kurt: Of course! We love the videos and plan to make many more! Thank you all for your time. I’ve enjoyed working with you!
Here’s the video that takes Next Glass to win the competition: