Cut Loose The Corkscrew with Coravin by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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Coravin Model 11coravin.com

On my radio show, Launch Pad, airing on Sirius XM Channel 132, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School, I talk with entrepreneurs about their startups. Once a month I choose an Elevator Pitch of the Month. This month my selection is Coravin, founded by Greg Lambrecht. Listen to our in-depth, half-hour conversation here.

At Wharton, I teach classes that focus on product design and development. As a “nerdy” engineer, I am fascinated by the how and why of things and cannot help but question the story behind most products. Many products are an improvement on a predecessor, so when a truly novel product hits the marketplace, it causes quite the buzz. This is the case with Coravin, a wine preservation system.

To get started, here’s Greg’s elevator pitch: “Coravin is a simple handheld system that allows you to drink any amount of wine from any bottle you own, whenever you want, without having to think about when you’re going to drink from that bottle again.”

Greg Lambrecht, founder of Coravinbrulteco

The pitch for Coravin is great and there’s lots of appeal for this kind of product. To pour any glass of wine from any bottle without sacrificing quality of the remaining contents is huge, but I’m far more interested in the mechanics that make Coravin possible.

The idea for Coravin began as a pet project during Greg’s medical career. Coravin is his first consumer product, a departure from the field of medical device innovation.

As an avid wine enthusiast, Greg developed Coravin as a convenient way to enjoy his favorite wine without worrying about the deterioration of the wine left in the bottle for too long. “I remember holding this chemotherapy needle in my left hand and a bottle in my right hand thinking, there’s got to be a way I can get the wine I want out of this bottle with this needle,” states Greg. Relying on his background in medical device technology, Greg began experimentation on the wine extraction process. There were definitely some challenges at first, like bypassing the cork.

Early in his career in medicine, Greg developed a chemotherapy delivery system for children that involves implanting a device under the skin that acts as a port. A physician or nurse accesses the port with a needle, with little damage to the device itself. That same concept was re-purposed with Coravin. “That [chemotherapy] needle didn’t work, but I developed a needle that could quickly pass through the cork,” states Greg, “It’s elastic so when you remove the needle out of the cork, it reseals.”

The needles used in Coravin devices are different gauges, meaning the inner opening of the needle is of different sizes. Different gauges can penetrate through cork of varying ages and allow for a more controlled flow. Greg told me, “As soon as we sold Coravin, we saw it being used on bottles going back to the first decade of the 20th century. So we quickly launched a super-fine needle – you can literally push it through the cork with a single finger.”

In order to extract the wine, Coravin uses gas cartridges filled with argon (sometimes used as a preservative in wine). The cartridge – like those found in bike pumps – with the trigger mechanism, fills the bottle with the inert gas and pushes the wine out. Greg explains: “Press the trigger and let go, and wine pours.”

This may sound like a complex system, with the needles and cartridges, but Coravin is actually clever in its design and nimble in its use. The Coravin system, as Greg described it to me, is about one-third the size of a wine bottle. Right before launch, Greg told me he took the “Coravined” wines to the top winemakers in the world to measure the efficacy of the process. He said: “There’s a machine called the FOSS which measures a bunch of different parameters and it showed that the maximum variation from beginning to end of the bottles was within the initial bottle-to-bottle variability.” In layman’s terms, the integrity of the wine remains intact from the first glass to the last, regardless of how much time has passed since the bottle was opened using Coravin.

If you’re still not sold on its potential, Greg subjected Coravin to eight years of testing with different gasses, different needles and different wines. Greg explains: “I first invented it as sort of frivolous — as something for me to use in my house. It’s just wine. I didn’t realize then what I know now.” To date, Coravin has raised $64 million, and it’s looking to grow even more by bringing on a talented retail and sales team. One takeaway for Greg: “What I’ve learned is med-tech and consumer are very different. There are 2000 spine surgeons who do all the surgery that I care about with my other company, Intrinsic Therapeutics, but there are 37 million consumers. How do you reach them?”

I don’t pretend to be a wine connoisseur but if you appreciate a glass of wine as much as I do, you are probably reaching for your wallet as you read this. The entry-level model of Coravin, marketed for personal use, starts at $199. The Model 11, marketed to restaurants and wine bars, is available for just under $1000.

Listen to our entire half-hour conversation here. For more information about Coravin, visit their site at coravin.com


December 18, 2018 at 10:46AM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/karlulrich/2018/12/18/cut-loose-the-corkscrew-with-coravin/?ss=entrepreneurs
Forbes – Entrepreneurs
http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/
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