Justin Dry

Bachelor of Wine Marketing and CEO and Co-Founder of Vinomofo

The road to Vinomofo was long for co-founder and Joint CEO Justin Dry, but now that he's arrived the industry will never be the same.

The ultimate wine nerd behind Australia's leading start-up

What do you do when your family has a connection to the oldest vines in the Barossa Valley wine region?

Naturally you'd consider a career in the wine industry.

How about when you get that career and see an industry a little too stuck in its ways?

Justin Dry's answer was to disrupt.

As co-founder and joint CEO of online wine retailer Vinomofo, Justin has carved a place for himself firmly within the wine and tech startup industries, but, like a properly decanted Shiraz, his path to success has been something of an evolution.

Justin had graduated from a wine marketing degree at the University of Adelaide and was working in the industry, but came to a realisation that wine may have been more an interest of passion than profession.

He switched course to become a stockbroker and it wasn't until his late 20s, after a trip to South America, that Justin began to see his future once more with rosé-tinted glasses.

"I went for about six months and it was on that trip that I kind of came up with the first version of what would become eventually Vinomofo.

"I [was] travelling with a whole bunch of American guys and girls and they invited me to this thing called Facebook, and I was like 'oh my god, this is going to be big,' which obviously wasn't that hard to pick," Justin laughs.

"So I came back having experienced this social network, and [at the time] I was starting to really find my passion for wine again… I came back thinking I would launch something in the wine space online."

That something was Qwoff, a social wine review site that connected over 20,000 wine lovers and built the foundation network of wine nerds Justin would come to rely on as his business progressed.

Despite Qwoff's success, Justin and his business partner (and brother-in-law) Andre Eikmeier were still struggling to make a wage, and so they shifted their focus.

Wanting to remain in the online space, they developed an app and a web series, but still weren't quite making bank. It wasn't until Justin came across the group buying company Groupon that the seeds of Vinomofo were properly sown.

"[Groupon] was the fastest growing company in the world and you knew that was going to hit Australia," Justin explains.

"I realised that [with Qwoff] we had this… great young audience, we had a great network throughout the wine industry – whether they be producers or media – and this [group-buying] model was coming, so we put one and one together."

What resulted was Vinomofo, an energetic brand with a "no bowties and no bullsh*t" attitude to wine, and a focus on giving their likeminded followers great products at a great price.

Their launch was not without controversy; being an online retailer meant dealing with wineries directly and having such a large and engaged audience, their buying power was strong enough for Vinomofo not to need the industry's middlemen, distributors and wholesalers.

"A distributor might make 40% and have all sorts of other things added to that, like pouring discounts and bulk buy," Justin says.

"Because we get a smaller range, super focussed, and we buy so deeply in all of the products that we feature we can have those relationships direct with the winery and save 40% plus, and we pass that directly onto the consumer.

"I guess the whole pricing model has changed in the wine industry, and it needs to. It's dishonest any other way."

Vinomofo's growth has been impressive; two years ago they employed 13 people, and today that number has grown to 95, but what's more impressive is the way that Justin and Vinomofo are not only a part of one of Australia's most passionately held industries, but that they are also shaping its future.

To that we raise a glass.

Because we get a smaller range, super focussed, and we buy so deeply in all of the products that we feature we can have those relationships direct with the winery and save 40% plus, and we pass that directly onto the consumer.

I realised that (with Qwoff) we had this… great young audience, we had a great network throughout the wine industry – whether they be producers or media – and this (group-buying) model was coming, so we put one and one together.

Wine, wine everywhere

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