Cuvée Privée – 1st prize of the Le Roch-Les Mousquetaires Foundation Contest
The “Coup de Pouce” Competition of the Le Roch Foundation – Les Mousquetaires takes place each year in November in partnership with the Ms HEC Entrepreneurs. It rewards 3 start-ups from the previous year’s program, based on their product, market potential, team and business plan.
This year, 10 start-ups from the HEC Entrepreneurs Program participated in the Competition final. It is Cuvée-Privée, currently trained at the HEC Incubator that won the 1st prize and an endowment of 20000€.
Cuvée Privée allows wine lovers to adopt vines in an exceptional domain to receive wine from their own parcel. This first prize offered them to gain visibility with the sending of a press release to various new media.
Interview with Aurélie Berthon, 23 years old, co-founder of Cuvée-Privée.
Aurélie attended the HEC Paris Grande Ecole Program and met her co-founders Marie Forget and Morgane Suquet, at the Wine Club. They came up with the idea of Cuvée Privée during the Entrepreneurship Major last year. They have created the company in June 2018 and have joined the HEC Incubator at the beginning of October.
Why did you choose Entrepreneurship?
When I entered HEC, I was not thinking about entrepreneurship yet. My gap year internships can attest it: investment banking, strategy consulting and private equity! I have finally chosen to follow the Entrepreneurship Major, as my idea of creating a product from A to Z and developing my own company had found its way. When we founded Cuvée Privée, I realized that becoming an entrepreneur was like creating a tailor-made job. No two days are the same, you cover all areas of your company, you know where you want to go and why you do it. It is an intense but a very meaningful job.
Can you present your company in a few words?
Cuvée Privée allows wine lovers to adopt vines from exceptional French estates to get their wine delivered straight to their door.
How does it work? First, the adopter selects his vines among our exceptional vineyards. His name is marked on the vines that he will follow during a year via monthly newsletters. He also receives a first welcome pack containing one or 6 bottles of the current vintage produced by his vines, a certificate of adoption and a special invitation to meet the winemaker. At the end of the year, he receives 6 bottles of the following vintage, labelled with his name.
Cuvée Privée is the perfect symbolic, original and personal gift. Better than giving wine, give vines in France!
What are your goals?
We have launched the website at the beginning of July and we should reach more than 500 clients at the end of 2018. Our adopters live in France but also in the rest of Europe (UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium). In 5 years, we expect that there will be 60 000 adopters all over the world tasting a wine whose history, terroir and winemaker won’t have any secrets for them.
How would you define success for yourself and / or your business?
Success is reaching the top while creating the maximum value for all your stakeholders. In the case of Cuvée Privée, we receive grateful messages from happy clients and, from the other side, our winemakers are delighted to tell about their work, to sell more bottles and to build relationships with adopters. It is already a great form of success for us!
What are the first difficulties you encounter when you start in your sector of activity?
The first difficulties we have encountered had to do with logistics. When you launch an e-commerce start-up, you also discover the risks of postal services and broken bottles. Fortunately, we have rapidly learnt from our mistakes and it is no longer a problem. Product customisation is also a logistical challenge, but it contributes to the value of our offering.
How did you find and choose your co-founder (s)?
I have met my co-founders Marie Forget and Morgane Suquet during our first year at HEC, at the Wine Club. The three of us have followed the Entrepreneurship Major and we had not known each other very well until then. During this last year of studies, we have decided to team up to create Cuvée Privée and have realized how complementary we were. Although we have first become co-founders before being good friends, we are now lucky to combine these two jobs!
How did you finance the first steps?
We have borrowed some money to finance the capital of Cuvée Privée. We have been profitable from the first sale and had the chance to obtain rapidly a €120k-loan from the Wilco accelerator. We are planning to raise money with business angels at the beginning of 2019.
When did you join the HEC Incubator and what the training brings you most?
We have entered the HEC Incubator in October 2018. The program gives us the opportunity to be advised by experts coming to the incubator weekly. The atmosphere between start-ups is very nice and it is very important not to feel lonely when you create your company. We highly recommend this Program for entrepreneurs!
Creation date: June 2018
Activity area: E-commerce
Program followed at HEC Paris: Programme Grande École
Founder (s): 3
Number of employees: 0