From Scotland to the U.S., from Kyoto to Dublin, spirits and wine are bought and consumed almost everywhere in the world. But according to startup founder Janis Wilczura, there is still room for improvement, especially online. Together with his co-founders, he has founded the startup Spiritory, a live marketplace for spirits and wine. Spiritory simplifies the trading of wine and spirits, and it makes transactions fair, secure, and transparent.
Currently, the founders are participating in the Master Accelerator program at German Entrepreneurship to make their business model investor-ready.
What is Spiritory?
Janis Wilczura: Spiritory is the world’s first live marketplace for sought-after spirits and wine. Our concept as an all-in-one platform enables users to buy and sell at the desired price within seconds.
At the same time, they can maintain their collection and receive many valuable vital figures and data, such as market values. Our goal is to create transparency, fairness, and security for the community when trading spirits and to relieve users of unnecessary and time-consuming tasks.
Why wine and spirits?
Wilczura: I have been involved with whiskey since 2015, and I’ve developed a great passion for it over the years. It’s not essential to me to consume a lot, but having high-quality, whereby high-quality does not mean expensive, is important. Some of my favorite bottles currently cost around 60 euros.
Over time, I have built a considerable collection, of which I’m proud. I love to talk with friends and acquaintances about whiskey, go to events, and especially to open and taste new exciting bottlings. The people in the whiskey community are great! It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – it’s the cause that counts. At trade fairs and also on the Internet, I was able to make many great new acquaintances over the last few years.
So Spiritory is a little dream come true: I can combine my passion with a startup project.
How does Spiritory’s live marketplace model work?
Wilczura: In simplified terms, our model works like a stock exchange, one of the oldest marketplace systems in the world. In the original sense, it’s not about “investing” but about transparency and fairness in trading. This is because buyers and sellers have the same opportunities and information.
Buyers can publicly post the desired price of the bottle they are looking for within two seconds. This is unique because, for the first time, we give them a voice and the opportunity to decide what they want to spend. Sellers can then accept the bid or put an offer online (or a “sell offer”), which can be accepted on the buy side. In this way, both parties have equal rights, and we democratize buying and selling.
At the same time, we also collect important data, for example, to calculate the actual market values and other key figures for the bottles. We then make all this information available to users free of charge. We consider historical prices, current bids (from buyers), and sell offers (from sellers).
Another significant component is user-friendliness. For example, we take care of product creation, customer contact, and logistics management. Sellers, for example, only have to take pictures once a purchase is actually made; we then use these pictures to authenticate the bottles. Buyers, in turn, only have to pay once they have been authenticated. The seller then automatically receives their shipping label from us and only has to print it out and send the bottle. With the portfolio function, users create their collections.
Why are transparency and fairness so crucial in your opinion?
Wilczura: We’ve noticed that sellers tend to dominate the market. Those willing to buy cannot make their purchase request and/or list their desired price publicly via a secure and central platform.
Furthermore, there is a fundamental problem in the market quantifying the actual market value of a bottle. We hear this question often ourselves: “What is bottle XY worth?” On the one hand, we want to give buyers the same opportunities as sellers, and on the other hand, we want to ensure that everyone has free access to market prices and data and that there are no information advantages on either side.
For the first time, the buying public gets a voice and the opportunity to decide.
What about security with customer and payment data?
Wilczura: Security is fundamental to us. We work with leading companies to guarantee that all payments and user data are secure and that every bottle bought or sold from us is authenticated. Our payment provider only transfers the money to the seller once the buyer is satisfied. At the same time, our team of experts checks every product and every user before making any payment. And if something still goes wrong, we are always there for our community to ensure everyone is satisfied.
What are your next steps, and what is your long-term goal?
Wilczura: We are currently working on successively improving our platform. This includes revising the user interface, simplifying the registration process, and integrating additional payment options (such as PayPal). Our medium-term goal is to release the Spiritory app!
In the long term, we see ourselves as a central partner of the spirits and wine industry. Our platform offers additional added value to all market participants. Soon, we also want to enable commercial sellers, such as small retail stores or liquor retailers, to offer their products with us. Since we take over a large part of the time-consuming tasks, retailers can reach thousands of customers online without much effort.
Do you have any entrepreneurial role models that you look to for guidance?
Wilczura: The fashion industry is always ahead with its multiple offers, especially online. In recent years, many platforms have come onto the market that have changed the market in the long term with their unique and user-friendly concepts. We want to do the same for the spirits industry: offer customers real added value.
Why did you apply to the Master Accelerator program, and how has the program helped you the most so far?
Wilczura: German Entrepreneurship, who runs the Master Accelerator, has a remarkable track record of supported companies with their programs. They have long supported young and early-stage startups with the LMU Entrepreneurship Center and that support continues with Master Accelerator.
When we applied, we were launching the first iteration of Spiritory. With the help of the experts in the program, we want to increase our traction, improve our network, and share our experiences with other founders. Most importantly, the program helps us prepare for our investment round so we can start our first startup funding round promptly.
What advice would you like to give to other potential entrepreneurs interested in starting a business?
Wilczura: Never give up! Every beginning is difficult, and things don’t always run smoothly in most startups. Mistakes are part of the game, and you should be prepared for them. But every mistake is also an opportunity and makes you richer through experience. The most important thing is to stay positive and motivated and continue pursuing your goal.
Does your startup still need support on its way to investor readiness? Then apply for the Master Accelerator program at German Entrepreneurship and learn from real experts of the startup industry.