Vinomofo, or the ‘fo’ as they call themselves, have a mission to “inspire the world to drink awesome wine”. Since the personality-laden brand strutted onto the Australian start-up scene seven years ago, the company has gone from strength to strength, expanding from Australia into New Zealand and Singapore, and raising a first capital round of $25 million in 2016.
Co-founder of the online wine retailer Justin Dry spoke to us about his memories of winning the Technology Fast 50, the success of the company from there, and his views on the state of the technology sector in Australia generally.
Justin remembers how he learned about the Technology Fast 50 back in 2013. “The competition was being talked about a fair bit in the start-up world as a way to get some broader awareness in the business media. In 2013, we were still very much in start-up phase. We were three years in, with a turnover of about $10/11 million and a team of 10 or 15 people. Our team is now 100 plus and we’ve launched in two more countries off the back of our first investment round in 2016.
Technology Fast 50 was one of the first in what ended up being a series of awards that we won over that period. But I would consider it still to be one of the most pivotal. And that’s because of the quality of the award – it’s based on your actual growth and business success, rather than some others which are based on how popular or cool a brand or founder you are. The calibre of the businesses and the founders that enter and are successful is really high.”
Justin is also clear on the impact that winning the award had on Vinomofo’s reputation. “Because Deloitte is a recognised global brand, having your name associated with a competition that they run is really powerful, especially in terms of introducing us to public relations and publicity opportunities that we hadn’t been aware of or hadn’t had the opportunity to be part of previously. It was something which shifted the coverage and perception of Vinomofo from a kind of wunderkind start-up to more serious mainstream business coverage.”
The Asia Pacific and international elements of the Technology Fast 50 competition have also helped. “We did get business enquiries and partnership opportunities from placing in the Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific. Even more useful than that, is the weight that having an award like this carries. If people globally are looking into a similar space, and researching, the Vinomofo name will come up quite often as a best example internationally of a company working in this space. A lot of that is down to the importance and value people place on an association and tick of approval, if you like, and we got that from the Technology Fast 50.”
Justin also remains in contact with quite a few members of the community of founders that he saw often through the award events and coverage. And he’s positive about Australia as a place to foster start-ups and technology companies. “As well as being a fantastic place to live and work, Australia does have a really supportive community around start-ups. I’m really excited that there are a bunch of new start-ups that are getting to the point where they are realising value and looking at investing back into the community. Companies like Atlassian, Canva, and a lot of the VC funds have raised good money and are investing and doing well. There are challenges too, especially in the space that government controls – all of us have difficulties around visas and getting the best talent into the country, but overall in the tech space we look out for and after each other and most people are more than happy to give back to the space too. I would say the future is looking quite good.”
For those companies looking to enter the Technology Fast 50 this year, Justin says it’s worth pursuing. “The opportunity through the Technology Fast 50 to get global PR and connect with a globally recognised and trusted brand like Deloitte can be extremely powerful. For potential members or customers globally, it gives a sense of safety and security and a legitimacy to your company. When they see you’ve won awards from globally trusted brands, it definitely has a halo effect around your own brand.”
For more information on the 2019 Technology Fast 50 program and how to enter, visit the Technology Fast 50 website: www.tech50.com.au