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April 5, 2010

BottleRocket: Part 1, the back story

Tom Geniesse, owner of
BottleRocket, began his career in the entertainment world, which he believes is at heart an entrepreneurial experience and process. With each new project you are always starting from scratch and your task is to bring an idea to fruition. To do so you not only have a compelling idea, you have to execute by strategically enlisting lots of key people, finding seed money, building a platform, generating buzz and support, and cultivating a following.

So during the dotcom boom it was fairly comfortable to move from the entertainment industry into a fast-growing tech startup.
Tom’s first business was founded with partners and was essentially an online portal that made it possible to access high-quality educational information and lectures anywhere. The virtual educational platform was intended to help connect the woman in Wichita with the professor at Harvard. The business was eventually acquired but not before it grew to employ several hundred people.

Through this venture Tom rode the dotcom wave and learned a lot about entrepreneurship and startups.
Fundamentally, Tom believes that an entrepreneur’s value is to solve problems.

And it wasn’t long before he spotted a problem that he wanted to solve. As a burgeoning wine drinker, Tom found it really difficult to interact with wine clerks and stores in an effort to learn more about his purchases. He was really trying to teach himself about the wine world and kept getting frustrated that merchants really didn’t make the process any easier.

Each bad experience left him questioning how things could be better set up. How could these stores make it easier for folks like him to learn and make more informed purchases?

Tom knew that it is easy to critique existing options but that it is much harder to create something that actually does a better job.

So right from the beginning, he really challenged himself. Instead of just creating an alternative that he would like better, he wanted to know if he could figure out a model that would fundamentally change the wine shopping experience.

And thus the research and brainstorming and collaborations began…!
(more about BottleRocket and Tom’s story to come in April’s inFOCUS series).

Experience BottleRocket firsthand and meet the man behind the business at our April 21st talk, taksing, and tour.

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