Cabernet, high stress and a winning formula

Cabernet high stress and a winning formula POST


Earlier this week I drove back to Sydney from Melbourne with my three furry babies in the car – Rex and Rocky (two fluffy white cats) and Rambo (fluffy white dog). It’s an epic journey that takes 11 hours. Yes I realise that it may take nine hours for you hoons out there. But do you realise how many toilet stops you need to make when you have a menagerie in the car?

Before I embarked on the trip, I loaded up my iPod with some listening material. Of course, I had left all this to the last minute. Ordinarily, I would have asked Twitter for audiobook recommendations. Or browsed through Spotify to check out a few new albums. If I’d had the time, I might even have taken a leisurely wander through the podcasts on iTunes to download some new shows for the journey. But I did none of that because there wasn’t any time.

So what did I listen to for 11 hours?
Instead, I opened iTunes, swiped through a few business podcasts, landed on Timbo Reid’s “Small Business, Big Marketing” podcast and downloaded 11 episodes. At around one hour each, I figured this would last me the entire trip.

Oh. My. God. I imagine that there are few people in the world who could say they have listened to Timbo Reid for 11 straight hours. But that’s exactly what happened. You gotta understand … thanks to my iPod disorganisation, I had nothing else to keep me going.

Don’t get me wrong. Tim does a great podcast and I really enjoyed some of his interviews. But after 11 hours, I was going slightly nuts. Tim: if you’re reading this, it’s not your fault. This was a self-inflicted binge. I’m sure you’re awesome in smaller doses :) (And yes, your podcasts rock.)

However, after about the 10th hour, I was going slightly delirious – and the podcast had become a cacophony of words like “marketing”, “database”, “online reach”, “startup”, and “segmentation”.


Valerie Khoo and Andre Eikmeier Girlfriend magazine 1995 POST

I fished this out of an old stack of mags ... from a lifetime ago. Girlfriend magazine circa 1995. That's Andre Eikmeier on the far left after being interviewed by yours truly. The photo was taken on the Gold Coast by @ginamilicia from


A fascinating story
Then Tim interviewed his next guest, Andre Eikmeier, CEO of It was a fascinating story of sheer persistence, blind faith and dogged determination to find the right business formula that inspired this week’s Enterprise post.

While I was interviewing Andre to find out more about his entrepreneurial journey, I had a flash of deja vu. I realised I had actually interviewed him 17 years ago. Back then, I was a budding journo for a teenage girls magazine and Andre was an actor in a show called Pacific Drive. These days, I ask questions about venture capital investment, startup issues and shareholder allocations. Back them, I asked the really tough questions like: “Describe your ideal girlfriend” and “What do you do to workout?” Thankfully, a lot can change in 17 years.

I hope you enjoy the story …

You like wine. So you decide to create ‘‘Facebook for wine’’. You love the idea so much you sell your family home and pour your life savings into creating an online community where other wine geeks can talk about sniffing and swirling the latest shiraz. Like many start-ups, you think that if you get enough eyeballs, a money-making business model will one day emerge.

That’s what Andre Eikmeier and his brother-in-law Justin Dry did in July 2007. They launched, an online community of wine lovers who can review their favourite tipple. But it never made them enough money to be a sustainable business. It was a labour of love. And an expensive one at that.

Pivoting the business model
By April 2011, they were still only selling about 50 cases of wine a week. At this rate, they weren’t going to be millionaires any time soon. So, like many start-ups, Eikmeier and Dry had to pivot their business model before they saw any real cash. They decided to experiment with a sideline business, a group wine-buying project. This turned out to be the winning formula and, eight weeks later, they were selling 500 cases a week. They’ve since grown 30 per cent month on month ever since.

You can read the rest of the post here.

About Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre, the country's leading centre for writing courses. She is a journalist, blogger and author. Her latest book is "Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business" (Wiley). Valerie is a keynote speaker, small business commentator, and investor and mentor to startups and businesses in Australia.