How did Brandeis IBS impact your career?
Looking at companies through the eyes of professors such as Grace Zimmerman and Ben Gomes-Casseres helped me refocus on the wine business with a different mindset. They helped me understand both the production and the sales and business sides of things. After graduation, my broad knowledge helped me land jobs in technical consulting and business development of innovative products dealing with the biggest wineries in the U.S. It was an important path that helped me build a great network in the U.S. wine industry. It still helps me every day with my work at Kuvée.
Had you always planned on moving into the start-up world?
Entrepreneurship is something I was aware of during my time at Vivelys in its post-startup era, but I first encountered it through a summer internship while I was working on my MBA. I found that there was a lot of freedom in my job and that great things could be accomplished with the right team and ideas. After graduation, I worked with small companies but wasn’t incredibly excited by the work. I finally found that excitement with Kuvée, particularly since I joined right as they received seed funding.
How did you land your role at Kuvée, and what about the company resonates most with you?
I did a lot of networking in the wine industry and in Boston during my time at Brandeis IBS. Once I made the connection with our founder, I had to demonstrate through months of consulting work that I was fully prepared to jump into a startup endeavor. At Kuvée we are trying to adapt wine consumption to meet consumer needs. People open a bottle of wine over the weekend if they know they can finish it before it turns bad. Our product will help keep wine fresh for up to 30 days at home and will also educate users on the product and industry. You basically get your own sommelier at home without the snobbish wine jargon!
What does your typical day look like?
My role has constantly evolved. At first, I spent hours on the lab bench analyzing and proving the viability of our concept. After that, I started outreach to wineries to find great partners. And now, amidst our launch, I’m tasting wines to validate our trials and to select the next one for our portfolio. Through it all, I’ve been able to work with the best team I’ve ever seen. With them, everything is possible, and solving hard problems is part of our day-to-day job. It’s not something we try to avoid.
Any advice for current students considering a career in entrepreneurship?
I tend to be risk-averse, so I wanted to find a company where I trusted the founding team and really believed in the idea. Making a move into the startup world is a great learning experience because you need to do everything, but I personally think it’s better to join a startup first and build your skills before starting your own company. Regardless of your path, it’s an incredibly rewarding industry.