Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Things people in the wine business say that annoy me

    These are two things I hear people working in wineries saying that annoy me and I feel just aren't true.

    1. "If you start a winery to make money your crazy." This is typically followed by talk about how much start up capital is needed or how high the over head is and then talking about how wineries make great tax right offs and that is why you should start one. Sure, wineries can make great tax rights offs, heck they can be a veritable money incinerator if you want them to be, but that is just one model. There are people making money in wine, and this should be the goal of any winery. If you start a winery to be a tax right off you are just setting yourself up for a life of mediocrity. The goal of any business should be to reach profitability as quickly as possible because it is easier to grow profitable businesses then non-profitable businesses. I think a lot of wineries are experiencing this right now as the economy pulls back the outside sources of cash keeping the winery afloat begin to dry up and you don't need that huge tax credit anymore, wouldn't it be nice if instead of a money sink that winery have turned profitable and could see you through these turbulent times? So yes, I will start a winery to make money, and yes it can be done, it just requires a lot of hard work and smart business decisions instead of throwing money at problems until they go away.

    2. "It takes money to make money in wine." This has been around a long time, and there is a point to this saying, but people preach it way to much. To a certain extent it takes money to make money at anything, the online space being a unique exception where with little more then A LOT of sweat equity you can build a nice business. Wine is also unique in that you have to do upfront production before sales due to the nature of the production of wine, no one will buy a wine they have never heard of that isn't made yet, and you can't make 15 bottles to see if people will buy it then a month later make the same wine again, it just doesn't work like that. So for these reasons it does take SOME money to make money in wine, but it's not like you have to be a millionaire to do it. I have worked out a business plan using around $500,000 that will produce a good quality wine at an affordable price point in a large enough quantity to be feasible, sure it would work better with more money but it can be done with that. In the world of start ups that can either seem like a ton of money or not very much depending on what your looking at, but the point is you can make wine and be profitable in the wine business without spending millions.

    People that make me laugh at the gym

    This is a list of people at the gym I go to that crack me up, as I have been going to the gym a lot lately I have seen these people a lot. Before you accuse me of selling out my little blog of rants here let me preface by saying that when I am in a bad mood, I go into angry rants about these people, but when I am in a good mood, they just make me laugh.

    1. 14 year old kids who like to lift weights ALL THE TIME, I mean seriously, these kids are there every night. It's great that these kids want to work out I don't want to discourage it, but they should strongly consider changing routines unless they want to wind up at 5' 1" guys with huge biceps. I mean if that is your goal, have at it, but otherwise, lets leave the heavy weight lifting for later in life ok?

    2. The women who are SO tan they appear to have actually seceded in joining another race and are so proud of their fake breasts they work out in nothing but a sports bra that is a cup size too small and tiny spandex shorts, AND who have gotten so muscled up I am actually afraid they might kick my ass. I mean really? REALLY? who are you? don't you have better things to do with your life? and are you that desperate for attention?

    3. People who clearly only work out with a personal trainer so they can hang out with a cute fit person. I see both men and women doing this (usually older men and younger girls) These people do not really care about what kind of shape they are in, or they would be in better shape, they just want to appear to work out so they can have forced interaction with an attractive trainer.

    4. Women who are so CLEARLY trying to get guys to look at them while they work out by moving their hips/ass way more then is necessary on the elliptical. Typically these people are not in that great of shape and you wouldn't even notice them in the gym except for the fact that they stick their ass out and move like 2 feet side to side when they use the elliptical. Now maybe this is some technique I am not aware of, but it just looks ridiculous and whatever it is... it isn't working.

    5. The guy who has cut his sleeve wholes so large in his shirt, that when standing normally his shirt no longer covers either nipple. I get it... you are proud of your body and want to show it off, but this just looks contrived and ridiculous, yes you are in good shape, yes you would like more freedom when working out, but NO you do not need to make you shirt sleeve wholes (if you can call them that) that large, there is no reason for this and I refuse to take you seriously as a human being.

    6. People are are so set on using the big weights that they use terrible technique. The most ripped/muscled people I have known used relatively light weights for their size, they just had impeccable form. So no... you don't need to be using the 55 lb. dumbbell for curls if you have to rock your whole bode a foot just to do one, you will see much better results with a 30 or 35 lb dumbbell and good form, but then again... you might look like a wee girly man if you use the little weights... ahh the dilemmas of a meet head!

    Things I want/need to buy

    This list is more for my own convenience then anyone who reads this, I just seem to forget what I want when I get money and waste it on silly things then when I don't have any money go OOOH YEAH! I've been meaning to buy....

    1. Windows (64 bit vistas preferably, but would settle for 64 bit xp) The 30 day free trail I use on my desktop and reinstall every 30 days is getting kinda annoying, what with the reinstalling every 30 days and all.

    2. A new laptop, my old one bit the dust and I do love my desktop, but sometimes you just need a little mobility

    3. A second GPU for my Desk Top, there is no good reason for this other then I think it would be sweet and well... computers are just another way to say HAHA MINES BIGGER THEN YOURS!

    4. A good surfing wetsuit, this will probably wait till next winter because it is getting warm enough to not need it now, but there is a portion of the year where its not terribly cold outside but the water temp is killer, for this part of the year I would like a wetsuit.

    5. A massage, not really on par with everything else cost wise, but still one of those luxury things that if I would like to have.

    I think that's it for now, I'm sure more will come to me

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    The internet hates me!

    For some reason the internet has been out to get my lately. I do not know what I did to anger it, but it has not been functionally correctly. Everything has been running very slowly, videos take a year and a day to load, if they load at all, some videos I can't even watch. What gives oh great interwobz? Even my phone is out to get me, I found out I could get Pandora radio for my phone, awesome, except that it Fs up my phone and doesn't really work and makes everything else on the phone not work too! GRRRRRR! Why can't the internet just function properly all the time... I mean seriously.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    People come here?

    So according to my google analytics, someone actually comes here other then my girlfriend. Whoever you are mystery person, thank you, you brightened my day.
    On another note I installed this game Entropia Online the other day, its an MMORPG type thing with the caveat that it has a real cash economy. Every piece of coin in the game represents a dime basically. The cool thing, kind of, is that you can convert back your in game money to real coin, so you can potentially make money at this game. That's why I installed it, however, it turns out you can't really make money at it. There are winners in this game that make money, but they either started a long time ago, when the economy was still sorting itself and there for acquired assets at a cheap price because people really didn't know what it was worth, or they spend a lot of money upfront to get commodities in the game then recoup their money over time. So I guess I could still make money, but it would take a relatively large investment on my part, and I don't know that I want to dump that much money into a game. Plus, in the end, the game HAS to be a net sum loss for players. There is no subscription fee, and no cost to get the game, so somewhere the studio is making money out of the in game economy, meaning they won't give out more money then they take in. These factors combined, along with a somewhat clunky game interface, lack of storyline, and basic like of gameness to this "game, made me decide to stop playing it after a very short time.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Google Analytics

    Just got google analytics on here so I can kepp track of all the hits I'm not getting! WOOT!

    Changing the wine pricing game

    DISCLAIMER: The following is based on my experiences in the wine wholesaling world and research I have put together for my company.

    You may or may not be aware of this, but when you buy a glass of wine at a restaurant you are usually paying for 3/4 or more of the business cost of buying the bottle. This is why wine is always so much more expensive then beer at restaurants and the like. Why is this you might ask? You certainly aren't drinking enough of the bottle to justify it, assuming they get 4 glasses out of each bottle then they are taking a 300% mark-up, which is huge. The problem though, is they can't necessarily count on selling all 4 glasses in a bottle, and wine doesn't really keep over-night that well unless you invest in expensive preservation systems like argon canisters and even then that just extends the life. What is really happening is that a restaurant is assuming it well sell on average two glasses of wine out of every bottle they open giving them a 150% mark-up over cost, which is about what retailers ask on bottles anyways.
    The other problem with wine pricing making it overly inflated as compared to beer is that everyone that makes wine knows that this is what restaurants do, and so they sell at less of a discount to restaurants then they do to retailers. Producers think if the restaurant is going to charge $9/glass anyways, I might as well make a little more money as well in this situation and charge them a higher price per bottle because they command a higher price per glass.
    Does it have to be this way though? Your average middle market wines, the wines typically available at $9 or so per glass probably cost roughly $4-$6/bottle to make (This is based solely on my experiences and the research I have done for my own company). So that equates to lest say $1.50/glass average cost of production. So isn't it conceivable that producers could sell at $2.50/glass to restaurants who could then turn around and sell to consumers at $3.50 or $4.00? Of course it is, but this only works if we price by the glass from the start, which we cant do because everyone produces bottles and you run into the loss do to spoilage problem.
    I am planning to get rid of this crazy pricing structure and hopefully you will see Glossophilia wines at bars where they wouldn't otherwise serve wines and a glass will only cost as much as your favorite pint. Until we get rid of this insane per-glass pricing the US wine market will never catch up to other parts of the world in terms of Avg. gallons/person

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Wine Ratings

    What is the point of wine ratings? I am sure you know what I talk about if you buy wine, the little score on the shelf talker next to some wines. OOOH this wine got a 95 and only costs $9/bottle it must be a good buy, etc. However, I encourage you think about what that is really saying before you buy a bottle based on the scorecard. It's really just like a standardized test score for wines, and I am sure we have all met bright people who make great employees, friends or whatever, who didn't score well on their latest standardized test. I am not saying the wine scores, or standardized tests for that matter, are completely irrelevant, just that we have to think critically about what we are seeing and realize there is a wine, or person, behind that score that has a tale to tell.
    What a wine score is really telling you is one persons impression of that wine. Wine is a very subjective thing, like people I would argue, so reducing it to this level of objectivity in the first place seems like a bad idea. However, I understand that not everyone can try lots of different wines and want to know they are getting a quality product not just a quality marketing campaign when they drop $20 on a bottle of wine. I encourage you however to look beyond the score, look at who gave it the score. Every wine score should come with a name attached to it, not just a publication, as publications often publish scores from several wine reviewers. This way you can begin to attribute certain characteristics to particular reviewers. This allows you to make even better choices in your wine selection not just by looking at the number but by understanding a little about who gave it the number. For example Robert Parker, the worlds pre-eminent rater of wines, has an affinity for dark, very tannic, big red wines. Now if you too like this style of wine great! Get anthing Robert Parker gives a 90+ and you'll probably be happy with it. If however, like myself, you prefer your wines a little more subdued, with a lighter tannin structure with more finesse, the you will probably be relatively disappointed with a lot of wines Robert Parker gives high scores to. (Robert Parker does give high scores to other wines, he is good at what he does, but it is well observed that he has a preference)
    From another standpoint wine scores are very bad for the wine industry. Because everyone looks at the scores and we can look at what gets high scores over time, we can begin to tailor our wines to the scorers. If you can get a 90+ point score from Robert Parker your wine will sell very well. So what do you do, you make a wine Robert Parker has a predisposition to like, aka big, tannic, dark, Cab Sauv's. There is a place for these wines in the market, and many people would argue that they are the true kings among wines, but I disagree. One way or the other I think in any industry it is bad when most of the competition wines up piling into one category.
    So next time you are at the store, I encourage you to take a closer look at the scorecard, at least note where the score comes from. Finding a scorer to follow is like finding a good somelier at a local wine shop. It will help you find wines that fit your palette, instead of just hitting your over the head with a hammer until you agree that your palette is wrong, or agrees with the scorer.

    Monday, March 9, 2009


    There are strange things afoot in the skies over Austin... strange indeed I say. It all started when the radio said, "traffic is backed up on southbound Mo-Pac due to a helicopter crash" What? Helicopter Crash... Mo-Pac, what is happening here. Turns out there was no crash, just an emergency landing in Zilker park. Strange, but not all together unreasonable, but then I noticed there have been lots of helicopters around lately. I saw one buzzing around over some streets as I was driving just following the streets, and low to the ground. Today one buzzed really low over my neighborhood. Then I saw four twin propeller huge military transport helicopters flying in a close formation line right over downtown earlier today. What is happening? Are we being invaded? Is the national helicopter flying convention going on in conjunction with SXSW? I mean seriously... this is odd!

    Sunday, March 8, 2009


    Its official, I am a twitter aholic! Its really cool, lots of good links to cool articles and things I didn't know existed. I am sure it is one of those things that I will be in and out with, similar to this blog, but rite now... ITS AWESOME! Check it out at and follow me if you aren't already!

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    <3 Pandora Radio

    Pandora Radio is currently rocking my face. Pandora, alternately knows as the music genome project is a cool way to find new music you like. You start by typing in a song or artist you like then it analyzes the components of that artists or song and plays things like it. Its awesome, you can direct it too by giving it thumbs up or down to songs it brings up. Once you create a station you like you can just come back to the site at any time and listen to it. My vocal trance station, started off of a search for Gabriel & Dresden is currently keeping me amped up! Check it out at, best part... its free!

    @ Rise Austin Annual Event

    This is a compilation of several thoughts from the Rise Austin even hosted over the last 4 days some of which I was able to attend. For those that don't know Rise is a non-profit organization founded here in Austin that fosters Entrepreneurship through free conferences and other things. Check them out at, great organization.

    1. Is bootstrapping a practicable method for start ups delivering goods or commodities? Boot-strapping clearly works in an IT space where the major input pre-sales is sweat equity to create the website and whatever else you are offering on the back end, this is what Build A Sign did. Bootstrapping also clearly works with service industry businesses where the primary thing your are selling is a service, again time is the major component. However, if you want to sell a product or commodity is it really workable. In some cases the answer is clearly yes, if you run a typical demo-sell-build model then boot strapping works fine. Getting a demo produced is usually relatively cheap and if you can simply get orders off your demo THEN produce your inventory it works a lot better. But what if your making wine, you can't really make a demo and go around and try to sell said demo then when you get purchase orders produce the wine, growing seasons don't work like that. You have a several month period in which you have to produce a majority if not all of your inventory for the entire year, thus upfront costs and the saying it takes money to make money in wine.

    2. Is it time for new VCs? The bootstrap Austin group talks about three different types of Entrepreneurship: Cookie cutter, VC funding driven, and bootstrap. No certainly there are differences between what is happening in a bootstrap business and a funding driven business, however, would it not be beneficial for VC funded start ups to take on a bootstrap mentality of right action right time? I think in this day and age the bootstrap mentality of constant innovation and evolving business is the way to stay ahead of the game. Competitors gain access to information and technology at an alarming rate, its only a matter of time till you are copied, so you have to keep changing it up, whether your are VC funded or bootstrapped as I see it. So what is it about VC funded ventures that keep them from being bootstrapped? The constrains placed on them by VCs I believe. VCs want to see a clearly laid out plan of action and growth before they invest in a business, but how can I know what the right action to take for my business is going to be 4 years from now today? VC funding locks people into a rigid business model that denies right action right time thinking, the core of bootstrapping. Perhaps it is time for a new VC that allows more freedom.

    3. Conscious Capitalism and the rest of the world. The founder of Whole Foods gave the keynote address at the end of the conference and spoke about the need for what he has named Conscious Capitalism. The main shift in Conscious Capitalism as compared to the current system is a move from shareholder value optimization to stake holder value optimization. Meaning its not just about the people invested in you directly, but the indirect investors meaning your employees, your customers, your suppliers, your community and everyone else who you effect... probably the world at large if this idea is expanded to its truest form. How on earth does this relate to the world we live in? Mackey stresses that this will in the end lead to higher profits, and I believe him, whether is due to a cosmic feed back loop of karma or simply because taking care of your employees makes them happy so they do better work and your customer gets better served, I just think he's right on this. But again, I think its time we call for a new VC. If I pitched to a VC and said, yeah maximize profits isn't really going to be my goal, it will happen, but I am going to focus on maximizing value created for the world in and around my business, I would get shown the door in most cases. There are some VC firms out there who are beginning to look at "socially responsible investing" but they certainly are not the norm. So how in business like wine, where it takes money to make money are new entrepreneurs supposed to start a socially conscious and innovative business? Pick a different business maybe, but I don't want to do that, and its just a bad answer. It is time for a new kind of investment group!

    4. The NEW school of funding! What would this new VC I am calling for look like, and would it work? Its great to call for the destruction of the old guard but unless you have a better solution is just yelling at the wind, so here are what I see as the key points to a new VC.
    A. Team not business plan. Now this is an old idea and one that current VCs incorporate. There are hundreds of great business ideas out there, but only a few great teams. Current VCs though still heavily rely on business plans to evaluate viability, then after the plan passes the evaluate the team to see if they are capable and passionate enough to make it happen. The new VC will do away with this and focus on teams and people, sure the idea will be important, but if you talk to a true entrepreneur your going to find out what their idea is because its all they want to talk about. They don't need to have every detail worked out, just a passion and drive to make it work, they do whatever it takes spirit of the great founders of the world. To use a classic example of the failure of B-plans, the Fed-Ex business plan was given a failing grade by a B-school professor.
    B. Right Action Right Time. The goal of the new VC team should be to help determine the right action for the current time for any investment. With the removal of rigid business plans there will have to be much more hands on direction to help entrepreneurs keep on track and do what is right at every turn.
    C. Recognition that stake-holder value = shareholder value. It is a direct relationship thus maximizing the stake-holder value will correspond to the maximization of the shareholder value. Sure this is a long term view, but it is what is require to build the businesses that will lead the world into a better future. THIS and only THIS after-all should be the goal of VC to build GREAT businesses, NOT great profits. Great profits follow great businesses, but great profits can not lead great business.

    If you want to form the new VC, let me know, the time is upon us and I would love to help!