Specialist fine wine investment broker, Vin-X Fine Wine, was formed in March 2010 by City financier Peter Shakeshaft, to open up the fine wine investment market to UK private investors. Peter tells us about his first two years in the wine business
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
Well I have a background in the City myself, and because of the fantastic returns I had seen as an investor in wine, I knew the potential for the area. I realised like many others that I was getting sick of the poor returns in more traditional investment vehicles such as stocks and shares, yet there was nowhere that was offering advice on wine investment. There was a lack of people offering advice on how to buy, how to sell, how to store wine so I had the idea of making it easier. It can be an intimidating market place for people so I wanted to create a company that made the whole experience more comfortable for investors.
How did you get your start up cash?
I am an experienced investor and have a long track record in the City. As a result I built up my own reserves to use as start up cash. I was confident that I could get the company off the ground as I had already rung about 100 contacts of mine to ask if they would be interested in investing in wine, and the resounding answer was yes.
What were the biggest struggles and challenges you faced as a new business? Did you ever think about giving up?
As a mature entrepreneur, I understand that the biggest challenge is assembling the right team of people around you in the business and creating a team ethos is of paramount importance by installing all the right protocols. In many ways having experienced the market as an investor myself, what we sought to do was overcome challenges of other companies I had dealt with, having witnessed their shortfalls first hand. Also a real challenge has been to educate the general public about wine investment and the benefits it can bring. There is a perception that wine investment is for an elite group of people but one thing we are working hard to do is to open the market up to the man on the street and make it more accessible.
How did you overcome these?
Research was hugely important in doing this. We studied what our competitors were doing and where they were coming up short. We looked at where investors were not happy with their service and specifically the ownership of the wine. Then we built a business around rectifying these problems.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
I’m passionate about working in an area I enjoy and there is no greater feeling than seeing your own business succeed. It is not all about success though, every entrepreneur has to be prepared to fail as it will happen; failure is what defines you.
What would your advice be to first-time businesses who are experiencing difficulties in the current economic climate?
Regardless of the economic climate, a company can succeed if they go about their business in the right way. When the economy is tough there is little room for failure so precision is important. You should fully understand your marketplace, always respect the marketplace and gear your propositions toward it as a result.
What’s the future for Vin-X Wine?
We want to continue to educate people about the benefits of investing in wine and continue to make it a more accessible and attractive option for investors. Educating people is the key to unlocking the true growth potential of the area.
We continue to branch out in the UK and have some road-shows to come later this year, but we are also looking to branch out overseas as wine investment is a global proposition and a global currency.
Date the company was founded? March 2010
Start up capital? £150k
Current turnover? £5m
Current Net profit? At the moment none, we are expanding constantly
Growth rate? 50%
Number of employees when the company started? 3
Current workforce number? 30
Biggest achievement? The return rates we secure for our investors
Toughest Challenge? Trying to get other wine investment firms to agree a common code of practice for the industry
Advice for start-ups? Believe