Back in 2014 Andrew McMurray, Vice President of Zachys Wine & Liquor wowed the Sharks in the Tank and secured a $2.5 million deal for for Zipz Wine, a company which makes portable, single servings of wine, packaged for retail in plastic vessels that feel like real wine glasses. While sales were rocketing revenue was stuck at zero. I had the unique opportunity to speak directly with Andrew and hear what that was like, and what they did to bring their company back! Here’s what happened:
Jay: A few years ago you led the way for your company, scoring the biggest Shark Tank deal, which got Kevin O’Leary to invest $2.5 Million into Zipz Wines. When Kevin shows up to your office to follow up on the company’s progress, the profits are a shocking zero! What’s the immediate reaction?
Andrew: As is the case with any problem you’re looking to fix, the first step is to understand the root of the problem. Any action you take before clearly identifying the problem is just a stress reflex which will only lead to more problems. After reviewing what we had done we realized that we were too focused on making ourselves wine sellers competing with the biggest names in the industry, and that was simply not going to work. No matter what name you have on the product, wine is not a celebrity item. The cool packaging we had wasn’t going to replace the customer’s loyalty to the highest quality wines in the store.
Jay: So what have you done to turn it around?
Andrew: The truth is we’ve turned the entire business inside out. Instead of focusing on being a B2C business we are now a B2B business. Our strong point was our packaging which we almost had a monopoly on. No other company was able to produce the high quality that we did. Instead of using our packaging as a way to get people to buy our wine, we got the biggest names in the wine industry to use our packaging. Not only did it change our model, it turned our competition into endorsers of our product. Instead of competing with the best brands in the industry, they were now advertising our product when they put their wines in our bottles. When consumers saw wines like O’Leary’s Fine Wines, Fetzer, Beringer, as well as the #5 largest wine brand in the U.S., which will soon use Zipz starting in June, that immediately brought tremendous credit and prestige to our product. We stayed laser focused on optimizing our expertise in packaging to the point where wine companies see our value and approach us for our product.
Jay: That’s not easy to turn around your entire model just like that. How’d you do that?
Andrew: The leaders of our company, myself included, have always had the mindset of doing whatever it takes to make it work. Especially in today’s times where things change at a rapid pace. To succeed you’ve got to always be nimble. Never plant yourself too deep to a point where you can’t change with the times. Today it’s all about attracting the attention of the millennial consumers, and to do that you’ve got to be ready to stop on a dime.
Jay: Can companies easily wake up and change their model?
Andrew: It’s definitely not an easy task. Part of our ability to turn around was the fact that we weren’t so well established. Many companies when they start out try to get themselves well rooted right away. While it’s certainly key to establish your brand, it’s vital to make sure you don’t plant yourself too firmly before testing out your results. It takes time until you realize what works and what doesn’t and allowing yourself the ability to stay flexible is a necessity for any budding company.
Jay: Where do you see Zipz Wine headed?
Andrew: Since our episode of ‘Beyond The Tank’ aired we’ve actually got numerous new inquiries from all over the United States as well as other international countries. Doing business in the US is easy. Getting ourselves positioned to take it all over the world is certainly a challenge, but a challenge we’re confident we’ll be able to achieve. Together with Kevin and our team we look forward to providing high quality packaging to the most prestigious wine companies in the world!
Andrew McMurray, Vice President of Zachys Wine & Liquor, an international fine wine and spirits retailer/auction house located in Westchester County, NY and Hong Kong, China. McMurray is a Massachusetts native who graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Marketing from the School of Business. The process of concept-creation, promotion and marketing is a key motivator for McMurray, contributing to his success in the wine industry for the last 26 years. McMurray’s trade relationships, a deep and ever growing client base of wine collectors and strong commercial alliances is what positioned him to re-invent/create a new way for people to drink single-serve wine. In December 2014, he appeared on ABC’s hit TV series Shark Tank and secured a $2.5 million dollar deal with investor Kevin O’Leary (“Mr. Wonderful”), the largest deal in the history of the show! Andrew currently resides here in Westchester County with his wife and two children.