Discovering Wine Across the Digital Industry with Paul Mabray of Pix


by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Oct 20, 2021

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast
Paul Mabray

Paul Mabray is considered to be the wine industry’s foremost futurist and thought leader. He is the CEO of Pix, a digital platform harnessing the power and potential of digital tools and methodologies to move the wine industry into the future. Paul pushed wine into the digital landscape with his work at Inertia Beverage Group, now WineDirect, and VinTank.

Paul sat on the Board of Directors for Emetry.io and was a Group Director for W2O Group, among other executive roles. He began his college journey as a writer and working in sales.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Paul Mabray shares his impressive start into the digital alcohol industry
  • How Paul’s digital platform guides brands to be discovered and grow
  • The value of a content-driven wine platform to scale your brand
  • Paul discusses how he is connecting consumers to products
  • The importance of building a solid team when growing a company
  • How Paul overcame the challenge of integrating digital with content
  • Pix’s recommendation practices as a newly formed marketplace
  • What is in Paul’s wine glass?

In this episode with Paul Mabray

Picture this: you’re searching for a last-minute wine gift. You did not allocate time for shipping, and do not want to spend hours searching in-store. Where will you find wines ready and available in your area?

Paul Mabray created a solution: it’s called Pix. Paul is making wine relevant and discoverable to your life by merging the consumer and wine retailer — at your fingertips. His digital platform is a gateway into combining the art of storytelling and matchmaking specific consumer needs to deliver your new favorite bottle.

On this episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Hendricks has a conversation with Paul Mabray, CEO of Pix, about connecting boutique wine producers with consumers across the digital industry. They discuss the power of content writing to scale a brand, understanding the value within a great team, and the analytics behind making wine discoverable. Stay tuned!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit barrelsahead.com or email us at hello@barrelsahead.com to schedule a strategy call.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show.

Drew Hendricks  0:20  

Drew Hendricks here and those are the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. From design experts like Andrew Means who helps work with wineries to create labels that evoke their unique story. Today’s guest Paul Mabray is considered to be the wine industry’s foremost futurist and thought leader. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead we work with you to implement a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy. When the highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and connects you with your ideal customers. Go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more. And before I introduce today’s guest, I got to give a big thank you to last week’s guest. Lawrence Cisneros, CEO of DRNXMYTH. If you’re looking to launch a new venture in the wine and craft industry, this episode’s a must. The problem-solution framework, Lawrence and his team embrace led to a product with packaging and distribution channels, many thought to be impossible. We’re going to keep the future talk going. This week. I’m super excited to talk with Paul Mabray. CEO of Pix, Paul is considered to be the wine industry’s foremost futurist and thought leader, harnessing the power and potential of digital tools and methodologies to move the industry into the future. There’s not really a section of the digital landscape that Paul has not made his mark upon. Back in the day he helped pioneer wine e-commerce through his company Inertia Beverage Group that eventually transformed into winedirect.com. From there he pushed the wine industry into social media, and social customer relationship management with his company VinTank.com as new venture decks promises to be the world’s first wind discovery platform, its goal is to marry an intuitive blind search engine with reviews and articles from trusted voices in line. Welcome to the show, Paul.

Paul Mabray  2:03  

Thanks for having me. Drew.

Drew Hendricks  2:04  

Thank you so much for being on. So at the start of the show, we always try to ask like how did you get into the industry? It’s always been an appeal but everybody’s got a unique entry point.

Paul Mabray  2:15  

Yeah, mine’s quite different. Most people I work remind named John Wright. He was the founder of Domaine Chandon USA and when I was going to college I was doing a lot of spreadsheets and he asked me you know, do you need a job and you know everyone going to college needs a job me hired me as a sales rep. I probably the worst salesman alive. Honestly, I can’t sell my way out of paper bag. But I’m a nerd. I was a geek so I wrote my own CRM program and it really kind of said hey, call this person this day and this is Joe’s daughter’s name is Mary and he likes to gars and so that is a great personal information manager CRM and it my my sales hockey stick because really sales is just about paying attention to people. And that was the beginning of my career in wine. I left my aspirations to be a director writer because all of my friends were waiting tables and bussing tables and working for free as interns and I had this great expense account all this free booze and I was like this is like a better career path it’s a much more fun

Drew Hendricks  3:19  

so we call it in college it needs to be a director for screenplays. Yeah, I

Paul Mabray  3:23  

want to be a director for movies yeah and writer too. So I was asked for and I always say that that training that I gained from that was really about managed chaos. And I’ve been a startup CEO most of my life which is managed chaos. So for

Drew Hendricks  3:39  

sure that’s awesome. Yeah, we come from similar backgrounds I in college My goal is to be a philosophy professor Nigerian out of Greek and then got into wine just right after college and figured never really left that it’s funny how it pulls you in. So as a future is in college then one of the you know back in the day that was had to be one of the first serums

Paul Mabray  4:02  

Yeah, I was I wrote it out of access you know, so it was pretty pretty rudimentary there and it’s the first time you know tried to figure out how to make a sales pipeline and the path and then I learned how to program in HTML made websites without you know, the company wrote the first website is really cool. I was learning everything early days and then that was kind of my back then you kind of kept that secret being the nerd was come private thing and then the late 90s got to let out the internet and joined a.com company as you say, Why shopper.com one strong word deco.

Drew Hendricks  4:32  

Yeah, that’s awesome. Access brings back my buy. I did my first one in FoxPro.

Paul Mabray  4:38  

Ah, nice. That’s, that’s way back when

Drew Hendricks  4:42  

Fox pro and the way we set up the first one. Well, we did a little wine auction site back in the day. Back in the day, right before eBay. eBay did flirted with wine for about a year. Then. We had some customers at the time there was little CGI script that allowed a lot of allowed The auction does take place within the store and it was

Paul Mabray  5:03  

nice that’s amazing yeah so that’s how I got into wine and then you know wine is a beautiful product I love the product but more than loving the product I love the the problem right and it’s a it’s an industry that is not adopted digital and that’s the problem right and it’s one of the key tools to its future success.

Drew Hendricks  5:24  

That’s the million-dollar question. Why has the wine industry been so resistant? to digital embracing this? Yeah, well,

Paul Mabray  5:32  

that that that ship sailed this year for the first time in my lifetime but the reality of it was was we were slightly apathetic because of our success. I mean, I can tell you hundreds of stories of me and wineries talking about why they should invest in e-commerce and digital and why they need to move away from the tasting remodel and they would continuously Look at me when it What if it’s not broke? Why should I fix it Paul? It’s working and so you know if you look at the wine industry over the last few decades we’ve had tremendous success either in growth of volume or growth of suggested retail price or growth of eco tourism all of those things are like three cylinders have been firing at perfect you know, anyone one of them slowed down in 2009 about the wholesale growth because there’s so many products and we the recession, DTC group at exponential rates, mostly DTC through tasty room and and you know, you know, tourism and visitation.

Drew Hendricks  6:27  

That’s the in person. So last year, we, the in person experience that everybody doubled down on was taken away. Yeah, well, we had

Paul Mabray  6:35  

we were forced to in a, you know, not only in the in person, but also the restaurants, which was, you know, a big chunk of a small boutique winery, sales volume goes to those locations. So the adaptation that had to occur, and I think that that’s also something that’s come out of is we didn’t need to adapt very quickly, there wasn’t anything forcing us there’s no forcing function. And we’re kind of in one of the few industries that still very annual, right, we’re cyclical with, with the seasons, right? Where the world has become very fast around the wine industry and force everyone else to become fast and why was still allowed to go slow. That’s changed as of COVID.

Drew Hendricks  7:15  

Absolutely, your latest venture and I gotta just jump straight to it. Explain Pix to me.

Paul Mabray  7:22  

Yeah, so Pix is a search engine for wine. It helps customer discover the wine, they’re looking for discover ways to buy the wine and discover other wines to buy. And what we found is that there’s no great tool out there that’s really helping a customer find that bottle of wine, when they want how they want whether they’re sitting in front of a wall of wine, and they’re saying, I want to put this one in my cart, or they are trying to find that obscure unicorn line, or a wine a certain price point or the next vintage. There are tools out there. Some pretty antiquated. Other people other tools are trying to be big retailers. I didn’t want to be any of those things. I wanted to help the ecosphere out meaning that the small boutique producer is having a heck of a time finding a consumer in Boston or in Austin. And if I can aggregate those consumers and help rotate those wines in front of them, I can help them be discovered. And same with a small boutique retailer. You know, I’m in Napa, and backroom wines will never be the lowest price retailer on the internet that no local retailer will. And all the other platforms are chasing prices, their key factor, I don’t want price to be the key factor. I want to help the retailer say I’ve got this product and let the consumer make the choice.

Drew Hendricks  8:32  

That’s great. Like, share it, share the experience share the wine, versus just having like a store list.

Paul Mabray  8:38  

Yeah, I mean, the store list is there, obviously. But like how do you present the store list in a way that helps the consumer make good decisions? How do you do it in a way that’s differentiated. And everyone makes their own decision path on that? We are we’re working really hard on making a beautiful search engine that helps you find the wine whenever you’re looking for it. And the name Pixsays picking your wine picks, or in us in the store to restaurant, take a picture of the wine to pick your wine picks. It’s got a fun connotation to it. So

Drew Hendricks  9:06  

yes, share with me a little bit more about how that search engine will work.

Paul Mabray  9:10  

Yeah, so any single winery which anyone that sells wine can list wine on there for free. They have to integrate with us. That’s the difference. We’re not we’re not a web crawler, we’re

Drew Hendricks  9:19  

not a search engine in the traditional sense. It’s not, you’re not aggregating all this data.

Paul Mabray  9:24  

We are aggregating all the data, but we’re not crawling the web. But you have to give us a because one of the biggest failures of one of the competitive search engines when you click on the line to go buy it, it’s not there for sale anymore, or it’s a different price. That’s a terrible consumer experience. We don’t want to do that we want it to be there. We also believe that wineries should own their own message. And that’s one of their number one complaints are tired of going to platforms that they can’t own or they have to be agreed just amounts of money to enhance their profiles. We want that to be free. We want them to give us better and better more content so we can help the consumer make a decision and discover their wines. And we’re very much focused on that. So anyone that wants to integrate with us can we have right now over 3500 wineries, retailers and restaurants that deliver it integrated into the platform, we have over 300,000 products and about 15 million offers. So what I mean by product versus offer is Opus one is a product, five stores may care that Opus wants to there’s five offers for that Opus one, right? So it’s a big, it’s a big engine. Already. We have a whole wide team led by a master wide David round. And we’re an amazing content team that’s about discovery led by Erica Duecy, Felicity Carter, so they write articles help you discover ones that you may not have known about before. Maybe volcanic wines or maybe roses under $20, or national wine that you’ve never heard of, you know, our job is helped discover this new content and spark your interest. Maybe you’re a collector, and we want to hit your collector nerve ending and say these are the best, no and best unknown cold wines you’ve never heard of. Right? Those are the cool things that we want to do. And that’s and

Drew Hendricks  11:01  

I saw that that’s on the drop. That’s right. That’s it. I love the fact that you have a almost like a wall between the drop in Pix where you’re not. You’re not paying to write content. It’s a completely isolated. Explain that.

Paul Mabray  11:15  

Yeah. So when we when we started the content program, we made a conscious decision, we looked at all the ecosphere. And there’s we wanted a very clean editorial break that was trusted by the consumers. If we’re writing about this, that you can trust that we’re not being, you know, we’re not being we’re not getting money behind the scenes, there’s no sponsor, and we didn’t want to make it confusing by intermingling sponsored content as well, as you can tell, that oftentimes becomes very confusing. So we want a very pure model. I actually don’t touch anything, the editorial as the CEO, which is a very strange experience, because you’re very prolific writer. Yeah, I love to write and I wish I was writing more to be honest with you. And then, but I don’t even know the articles are being written about to come out of the day of like, this morning or yesterday morning. One of my favorite authors from South Africa is of other noise. Amazing. Yeah, she’s, I’ve known her for a long time. And I had always hoped that she would write on our publication. And sure enough, it shows up there. And I didn’t know she was in a queue. I didn’t know that she submitted, I just got to see it. It was magic.

Drew Hendricks  12:15  

And that’s the one thing that immediately jumped out. These are articles, you’re actually going to read a lot, so much of the content on the web right now it looks like an AI bot wrote it, or it’s just sat there set up for search engine optimization, or set up for a computer to read an index, right? He’s actually looked like something you’d like, curl up with and actually read? Well, I

Paul Mabray  12:35  

mean, the mandate is like, SEO is an important byproduct. But it’s not the directive. The directors write great content, make a great and so Eric and Felicity have done an amazing job, writing about things that will make wine relevant to your life and help make it interesting and discoverable, right, so and we believe in a wide tent, a big tent, meaning that our job is everything from bow to box to Patrice and everything in between. And that’s a really cool place to be because that opens up the world to a bigger community. I think that most sites are like very, either ino file or dis County, where they’re whatever kind of way that you want to buy whatever kind of wine you want to buy, however, you want to buy wine with a utility that lets you do that. And we’re not in the middle of we’re just helping you.

Drew Hendricks  13:18  

That’s great. And it’s set up for all levels of wine enthusiast for like, as you said, the Bota box to the serious collector needing that specific vintage of Petrus.

Paul Mabray  13:27  

Exactly, yeah, it’s it’s a lot of work.

Drew Hendricks  13:30  

I cannot I can only imagine is it? Well, it’s basically looking at two businesses in one, you’ve got exactly content creation, and then we’ve got Pix. Now when people list on Pix, how does that process work,

Paul Mabray  13:42  

they just give us their catalog feed or the API integration. And we’re integrated most of the major wine e-commerce platforms in the world, whether that’s commerce seven, or city high for retailers. So we’ve done a pretty good job reaching around the world and connecting with them. And that’s, that’s one of our advantages. We come from the tech world for wine. So we know how to talk to those people, how to integrate with them, how to help them extract and we want to make the job easy for wineries meaning that, you know, we don’t want them hacking in information, if they’ve already put on their website. We just want them to enhance it and enrich it to make it better for us. But you know, we don’t want to have them. Because there’s 50 sites that want them to hand in our content. We don’t want to add 51 Yeah, exactly.

Drew Hendricks  14:22  

So you aggregate it, clear it through. And what can the people do with this because I know you’ve always been really big on data and analytics, and I’m sure you’re collecting it.

Paul Mabray  14:30  

Of course we are. Fundamentally the data helps us to do so we are a very interesting business model where we follow a small company called Google says keyword bidding, which is really cool, right? So what we know is that every winery doesn’t want to sell every wine they don’t want everyone to be at the front of the line. So as you know the keywords like a fast pass, you know everyone’s in the park but you get to move to certain rides a little faster. So they’re picking the products that they want to post essentially in this thing. I have too much Sauvignon Blanc I don’t have enough penetration in the East Coast, I want to boost it in New York or I want to boost it offline versus online, or there’s different ways, all these levers, let them push the product where they want how they want. So they say, it’s at the front of the line, when there’s so many products, they’ll search for it. And using Sauvignon Blanc, I mean, you know, with 300,000 products and 15 million offers, how do you show at the front of the line, you need a Fast Pass sometimes. But the good news is 75% of the site is free and organic, right? There’s only 25% that will be sponsored ads. And those are, they’re clearly marked like a sponsor product on Google. And the other ones is, do a better job with us be a better partner, give us better content integrate with us better, so that we can actually show inventory to the consumers and say, Oh, my God, Drew, these are the last few balls left, you better click right now. Or you’re not going to get the ones you want, right. And that’s how we’re gonna keep raising the bar for the industry.

Drew Hendricks  15:49  

That’s fantastic. Now there’s one part I don’t quite understand. So you’ve got a winery. And that wonder can interface directly with you. But they’re also in five or six other platforms? Because they’re selling the went online? How would or retail or how do you how do they distinguish between which platform they’re uploading depicts, direct or through.

Paul Mabray  16:11  

So we take from their content systems, or they can touch us directly on their systems to help them do that to want to come we also pull in data from lots of other sources as well. And then let them override it if they want, you know, but our job is not to be either or our job is to be a producer and wine calm. Our job is to be you know, backroom wines and the wine and wine calm right? You know, we have our jumps displayed in a really easy to see methodology so that you can make a good decision and actually, what the reviewers aren’t seeing right now is we’re working really hard on this great UI UX that shows the producer first the best deal Second, the nearest third and the fastest fourth so that’s a great then a have a decision well how do you want to find that line right now I need it fast. I forgot choose birthday. Let’s get to him right now are you know what I care about provenance event bowtique producer, I want to buy directly from the winery, or, you know, I like to support the local retailer, sure, I’m gonna get my car, drive a mile and a half and pick it up from him, right? Or maybe I’m deal conscious, maybe I didn’t get my bonus this month, and I need to buy it on a deal. And I need that wine extra because I didn’t get my bonus.

Drew Hendricks  17:22  

That’s very good. And you’re Forgive me, you’re gonna have to describe this to me, because we’re recording this in July. And right now as far as I see that the store is not live on or the site’s not live yet.

Paul Mabray  17:34  

No, I’m showing you that. Yeah, give you an easy preview. Look at this. So this is why we discover ourselves the discovery platform, and to the viewers on the top, I searched for duck horn, nap volume, or low and it shows up at the top. And then right below it, I show for free the four different ways to buy from the producer, the best deal the nearest and the fastest. And then also on the right hand side, I introduce you to other wines to buy. So in this one single search results, I’ve given a lot of people swings at the plate to be able and and by you as a consumer, you’re like, wow, the choices are really unlimited for me to make a really excellent decision

Drew Hendricks  18:12  

that that picture with 1000 words there. Now I can say is that what you did was you you’ve cut through the main search things that people usually do they want to see the sort by price high to low sort by nearest the farthest and you’ve got the right there producer best deal nearest fastest. What the consumers told

Paul Mabray  18:29  

us is this. We’re busy human beings. And we don’t want to do scroll. I don’t want to search through Google to find the results I want. I don’t want to search through the opposite search engine and just go after and try to find it. I don’t want to go price is not the only reason I buy what was the other thing they said, you know, yes, we do care about prices of concern. But quality of delivery, quality of retailer type of retailer where it’s located, all of these things are factors. And we’ve been removing that from the decision tree as we tried to look at the other platforms, which chase price is the number one factor and then that’s just a race to the bottom for everybody. And it’s not really satisfying the need of so many different cohorts. And at the end of the day, it’s nothing as satisfying the need of the consumer. And that’s the fundamental piece we want to do

Drew Hendricks  19:14  

that this is amazing. So the for those that are just listening to the podcast, what I see here is duck horn, average price $46. And then it shows the end all depends on what you’re looking for, because you can get it the cheapest but it’s gonna take you a week and a half to get for 39 or you can get it you can just get it same day for 54. And depending on you know, your need to impress your date or your need for dinner. That extra $10 maybe worth it.

Paul Mabray  19:44  

That’s exactly right. And maybe I forgot your birthday Drew and I’m like oh my god, I know he loves this one. I got to get some today. Right that would I would be willing to pay a premium for that right. Another example is let me give you a good real world example. So I love Lopez they headed so fantastic. Why Rio hotlines age 10 years? You know, it’s hard to get Napa ironically, because Napa is, you know, ocean of Napa wines. And, you know, if I googled it, I could buy it on the internet. But at the same time, I could, I probably wouldn’t know that it’s right down the street at backroom wines, which is the local kind of, you know, cool retailer here in town has a lot of imports. But I also would know is that comp line, which is a restaurant wine bar, and retailer delivers it as well. So depending on the day, I could make a different decision with those few people, if they had them in inventory, and support local or get it today, that would normally be available. To me, it’s a great example of like, that kind of wind and any shade.

Drew Hendricks  20:43  

That’s fantastic.

Paul Mabray  20:45  

Yeah, we’re really pleased about the whole thing. I mean, you know, they keep saying get us to the fastest purchasing tell us the highest rate that we don’t want to just go make our job easy for us is with a consumer said. So we’re really working really hard on that. And it’s search engine. And like I said, it’s it’s unprecedented growth that way we’re doing it, and I feel very proud about the team. And what we’ve built in seven months, what other companies took 10 and 20 years to build. I’m very, very lucky.

Drew Hendricks  21:12  

Yeah, this this thing came out of the blue. I’m looking fantastic. How did you how did you go about getting gathered together your team?

Paul Mabray  21:21  

Yeah, so the team was an interesting phenomenon. You know, I’ve been in the wine industry a very long time. As you know, I don’t want to actually tell on air how long but it’s over decades, despite the face. And over that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and aggregate a lot of talented people I’ve wanted to work with or work with them in the past. So this team had a running start, have a lot of people that I’ve worked with in the past. And then I picked some all stars that were player coaches, and brought them into the the organization saying, look, there’s a big future that we can do that we can change the world of why we have this industry that’s declining, because we’re we’re vulcanizing, the discovery, we want discovery to happen, we want to help these people. If they’re frustrated in buying the product, we’re not we’re not going to solve the industry’s problem. And because the COVID This is the best time ever to lean in to help the industry out because now all of them want to get online. And let’s do it in a way that’s healthy and positive. And so first I started attracting some of the all stars like Erica Duecy, Felicity Carter, Joe Fattorini, who’s the star of the wine show, Matt Franklin, who is one of my, you know, closest friends, all of these things we started put together to get to where we are today. Yeah,

Drew Hendricks  22:33  

you have an amazing All Star lineup that comes with some challenges. If you’ve ever seen like the the movie where everybody like, every stars in the movie, the movie doesn’t turn out quite as well. What challenges did you face having so many thought thought leadership, so many people with, you know, sometimes divergent visions.

Paul Mabray  22:52  

So the good news about that is, for the most part, everyone was pretty much aligned and sat in their seats. So I think I chose I was fortunate to choose everyone sitting in their seat appropriately, that’s not always the case. And so as you know that the forming a team is about forming, storming, norming. And performing is kind of the old adage, we skipped the storming phase, which was really great. And that’s usually a lot of drag in a company, that execution gets caught up when people try to find who’s where their seat is, and take the leadership. The second piece of that is, you know, for the most part, we had a pretty good framework, I had to build the teams together. I think the hardest part of the integrating was the content part of that portion because that was new to us. And we had to both learn together. And they’ve done an amazing job. And the biggest learning that we brought from that is generally content tries to build a magazine and they chase to that perfect state. Whereas tech is like a very malleable piece of clay where I keep adding you to and iterating and so by bringing them closer together to that iteration, we learned how to work both a better state of perfection but also a better state of agility

Drew Hendricks  24:01  

making sure everyone’s going towards that kind of unified vision and working towards that common goal.

Paul Mabray  24:06  

Yeah, we the common goal is there I mean the people it’s a passion you can feel it’s almost contagious everywhere. We really want to help consumers out we really want to help wineries that we really want help reach you can feel that we’re not we’re not predatory like a lot of tech companies are we’re like we are honestly a good actor just like that Google do no harm. You know, it feels like that inter intuitively through all the organizations so I feel very pleased about that.

Drew Hendricks  24:30  

That’s fantastic. How are you? word for the topics to the consumers.

Paul Mabray  24:37  

Yeah, Louise, I want to stop on wondering about the team that I’m mostly Yeah. I don’t know if we when you look at those faces on our team big the thing I’m most proud about is we are the most diverse, wide tech company in the history of why tech it is bold in young female and male it is you know, we’re including all the faces, both in our editorial staff and our writers. We want pigs to read represent the world and want you to see representation in that piece. And we’re really keen on it. I think that just the fact that I think we’re 55%, female 45% male is a huge testament either in a wine company or a tech company, but a wine tech company is it’s pretty stunning.

Drew Hendricks  25:15  

That that is fantastic. And definitely looking at the team page, it looks like a mature company, it doesn’t look like a company that was around for a couple months, maybe longer, but it looks like you’ve got years of years of just hierarchy going on in there and years of just gathering leading. How did you get? I mean, you must have just sent out the call and people just came or was this a heavy recruiting effort?

Paul Mabray  25:41  

You know, I had recruited almost every one of the the people, you know, on that piece, or once I recruited the team they had recruited but like, you know, it’s been amazing. I’ve been very pleased about just tapping into decades of my life and finding the right combination of awesome people.

Drew Hendricks  26:00  

It does seem like this, this venture is kind of the late late all the little seeds and all the groundwork and all your previous entrepreneurship. And you brought it all together into this this picks. That’s what I feel like to that is exactly correct. This is like my swan song of wind tech, I

Paul Mabray  26:15  

think. So.

Drew Hendricks  26:17  

Yeah. Cuz you have the direct to consumer matrix that you always write on medium kind of explaining and navigating it. And basically, you just take your own advice, and you created something. That’s right. That’s exactly right. You have a blueprint out there for years. Everybody could have done it.

Paul Mabray  26:33  

Yeah, exactly. Absolutely. So and I’ve even been promoting a lot of these people for years and bragging how great they were. So if you listen to me over years, and there’s a joke on Twitter, they’re like, they know when I started talking to someone on Twitter, then probably recruiting them.

Drew Hendricks  26:48  

That’s good. That’s good. So we recruiting that the next step was getting the wineries to jump getting the wineries, the retailers and all the industry people to jump on board and embrace the platform. How did you convince them to go join get another platform to put their integrate there? There?

Paul Mabray  27:06  

Yeah, that’s a that’s a great question. So first of all, you know, again, leaning on our history was helpful, right? So it’s not like we were in a No, and I think that’s important to say, like, you know, that the industry knows me as someone who cares about their business in a positive way. And sometimes I give tough love. But in general, I’m there as a champion of their business and the champion of the consumer. So that was also got us, into a lot of means we were able to make phone calls. And if you look at our senior leadership team, there’s not a human on the planet, or retail on the planet or winery on the planet, we can pick up a phone call between us. So that was part of the accelerant. The second piece is the value exchange that we created. So many companies are trying to come in there and create another tier between the consumer and the winery retailer and take it. And so we didn’t come with that we are we are a disintermediate agnostic arbiter to help. Those two things connect, we connect buyers and sellers, that’s our fundamental job agregate, the buyers and connected to sellers, not get in the middle of transaction, not take a cut of the transaction. That’s a great story arc, that we are the only company on the planet that has that storyline that we can say that and do it in a way that we can still make profit about, you know, you want to buy a fast fast, go ahead, buy your fast, fast whenever you want. But in the meantime, enjoy what we’re doing for free just like Google does. And that’s a good story.

Drew Hendricks  28:26  

That is a great story. So you got it. You got all the wineries to join, you got your platform built out. Now how are you going to bring this to the consumer? Yeah, now that’s the hardest part of the equation, right? To be honest with you. So

Paul Mabray  28:37  

there’s a lot of table stakes at that piece. You know, the good news is, if you think of the soda wars, right? Who’s first coke? Who’s second Pepsi? Who’s third? Who cares? The Good News advisory who’s first right as vivino who’s second nobody and who’s third? Who cares there’s a good seat waiting for index to fit in right now. And then after that, we’ll figure out and the seat is we’re very differentiating and several we have more inventory more wise for sale than anyone you know, more than vivino for sale you know right out of the gate. You know, the only one that we we are less so is with possibly wine searcher because they have more approximate been around for 20 years, but I think we have a better user experience as you saw. I think we’re getting to we care about our consumers endlessly in everything we do. That’s great.

Drew Hendricks  29:27  

As far as I’m not gonna I don’t want to prompt you to say anything that’s undercover. But what’s your vision for Pix, which is kind of a strange thing to say since it’s just launching now your visions just coming out. But what do you see Pix because you mentioned like Google in the auction side. Well not I said auction side but that Fast Pass purchase in the fast path. What’s your vision in the next like three years if everything goes the way you want.

Paul Mabray  29:53  

So I want Pix to be the utility that any consumer uses when they want to buy wine and it will help To get smarter for them to help them buy wine so you know a learns from them. As you said, I’m collecting data about them for them. I’m not sharing with anyone else, you know. So if you’re scanning California Chardonnays, I want to help you do a better job finding new California Chardonnays. And if I can’t, I’ll introduce you to maybe a Bordeaux that takes your taste profile that you know or burgundy what a you know, or maybe an Australian Chardonnay that might take because the the Gestalt of wines are important how they taste. And, and I want to tell you that where you’re at, so maybe you’re traveling to visit your friends, maybe is your sister in Portugal, and you’re like, I don’t know what I need to drink this wine is right. In fact, I don’t even speak the language, how can I help out and that like a utility will say By the way, there’s some great wines, right? And as you walk across this wine stores threshold, here’s three you should pick, right? That’s my job. And I want to do that well for you, as a consumer, I want to do that well for the shop to help them sell some wine I want to do for the producers in helping them introduce wines. And that combination is magic. That’s the magic in a pocket.

Drew Hendricks  31:00  

So is that going to implement some AI technology for predicting and helping consumers choose their wines?

Paul Mabray  31:05  

For sure we have a lot of machine learning that we’re doing a lot of artificial intelligence, but that look at the end of the day. You know, I’m not going to go into the buzzwords of AI and machine learning, we went to the job of a perfect combination between people and machine. You know, machines are just dumb engines for the most part and how we turn them and they learned dumb prova and there’s a lot of ways that people are doing taste matching that I think is idiotic. And I really mean that like when you when you decompose a wine into his base ingredients and then try to reconstruct it. It’s absurd, right?

Drew Hendricks  31:36  

or coffee or coffee with no that and that’s even worse, your perfect Cabernet.

Paul Mabray  31:41  

That’s just that’s just junk science. That’s that is completely junk science, but the part where you’re deconstructing into his base elements, suddenly you find the clusters of base elements are shared by lots of wines, you say butter or bear blackberries a cherry how many red wines have cherry as a quality, but is a Zinfandel of cherry and a Pinot Noir with cherry the same wine by no means at all? Are they the same way. So using as an interconnected node is is a chair. So we fundamentally believe that the human needs to teach the machine we have a whole wide team teaching the machine meaning that you know what, they create nodes based upon how they work with the winds and we also believe that the rating system is not helpful to consumers to help them we’re going much more like Netflix. So if you hover over a movie Netflix, it says gritty drama. You know rom com, it says you know, sci fi adventure, we’re doing the same thing we want to help you when you scan that line, make a decision very quickly to put in your card or put it back on the shelf. Right and we think that a review has been an old vestige of the past to do then. And by the way, it’s not just us to think that if you look at the reason that Netflix got rid of ratings is because it didn’t help the same way that those three word clusters did.

Drew Hendricks  32:55  

Very good point. Yeah, and most consumers don’t really know the wine writer or the wine reviewer that has a palette similar there’s like you can get some guy that just you know back in the day that Robert Parker with a big heavy tannic gives a nine nine points but half the wondering is out there probably would think it’s not that great of a wine.

Paul Mabray  33:13  

Well, it you know, I use the Rotten Tomato example, right? There are many, there are many films that critics love that when you watch and you’re kind of like that’s a snooze film, right? As a film guy can admire why those were chosen. And there are many wonderful adventure movies or silly you know, movies that the critics pay out and you’re like, man, the Avengers is pretty darn good and fun to watch. I needed that break today. You know, with Rotten

Drew Hendricks  33:35  

Tomatoes, if it’s got a score of about 37 to 47. And it’s an action movie, I’m probably gonna like it because the critics like it. Conversely, if the critics gave it, like 9990 tomato points or whatever, it’s probably going to be a little too formulaic or a little too much on the artsy side for me to watch. So I do have my own take on the tomato square.

Paul Mabray  33:56  

I mean, look, Dickens is an amazing author, you know, but do I want to read Dickens everyday? No, right. So I think that there’s some interesting components that also don’t want to go the other side of the amplification of wine. I don’t want to do that concept, which is if you pull out Yelp and Napa McDonald’s has four stars and sodas, toke, which is a Michelin star restaurant. They’re not the same restaurant at four stars, right?

Drew Hendricks  34:18  

Sure. So you do and you do incorporate the reviews and the ratings, but you’re playing it down as far as on the on the recommendations. And those are basically based on more of the consumer. I’m imagining analytics with all the consumer buying habits and similar bottles being repurchased indicates interest in in in the bottle, and then like minded people purchasing the same set of bottles, probably we purchase these other ones.

Paul Mabray  34:43  

Yeah, I don’t know that we’re going to do much collaborative filtering. I think that that is is not really where it’s going to get us some bad results on that piece. Especially when you look at the footprint of Waianae, that’s another problem, right? So what’s available and what’s good scan creates higher signal than longtail stuff and the longtail is The majority of the wine industry so if you follow the collaborative filtering, you’re going to see too much activity at the naomie slash, you know, rombauer and other those are bad wines, but those wines will over index and create false positives, whereas not matching those, those rare wines. So you have to look at the Gestalt of the bottle, have to re have to run it through an analogy, and this is how the machines taught, which is, we have people teach you the machine just like you would go into a wine store, right? When you go into why certain let’s say you say, I would like mastication, right? And the wine stores say I’m sorry, I don’t have asked him. But here’s why. At the same price, it tastes like masking. If you’re on a budget, here’s the one is cheaper, the tasting glass again, if you’re if you’re going to blow out the night is expensive. And by the way, here’s a way crazy wildcard that you wouldn’t expect today. That’s kind of the matrices that every smaller wine store does. They have three price striations and the wild card. That’s how we teach the machine.

Drew Hendricks  35:56  

Hmm, that’s a that’s a great. That’s a great analogy. Our analogy painted in my, into my mind, as far as he said, not too much cross fertilization of analytics, so you’re not really thinking of a global data set. So we have a

Paul Mabray  36:13  

club with asi, and we are doing analytics across everything. I mean, the question mark is, what do we want to do with analytics, obviously, we want to serve better ads, so that when you know a person that’s let’s call it my wife’s winery, dhanam is buying a Chardonnay ad is showing to the right, people are most likely to buy her Chardonnay, right? based upon their scan behavior, their search behavior, their saved behavior, all the different things that they’ve done. Right? That’s that’s the job that we want to use that for. We also want to use it for helping wineries make better decisions, right? You know, and here’s how much your mind’s being scanned? Do you want to boost it or not? You want to tell them data for free? In fact, our analytics platform that we have is is free for everyone that wants to use it. Because we’re like Google, we give away free analytics. And yeah, we have, we’re giving away more and more free business tools, Google out of the gate. I mean, we really are emulating all things that we’ve done, we’re actually mapping ourselves to that that Matt roadmap. And what will we do on a global basis about macro? stats? I don’t know the answer to that yet. But we will have hopefully, if we do our job, right, the best insight into both consumer and trade behavior the world has ever seen. And how do we unlock that for the wine industry? is a question that we haven’t answered yet. We’re still just focused on let’s get the job and make a good utility and most minimal, lovable product for our consumers. So that Drew whatever you think about buying wine, first, you come to our site first and say, How can I look there first?

Drew Hendricks  37:37  

No, that’s fantastic. Now is it is it deliberate? That, are you ever almost that’s a bad way to say it? But is it only going to be wine? Or you’re going to integrate craft spirits? Beer? And how does that word deep picture picture playing field?

Paul Mabray  37:54  

So you know, why does our focus for sure, obviously, it Pix is a nice open word that can be wide or not wine. And you know, we when we ingest catalogs, from retailers, we get all of those products as well, and everything down to the straw. Those are decisions that at a future date. I can imagine us obviously coming into spirits as well, because it makes sense. But really, our focus is why because that’s the hardest problem to solve. And if you look at our other competitors, or other people have done spirits really well, they do wind pretty terribly because it’s a really hard problem to solve.

Drew Hendricks  38:27  

Yeah, I’m just always curious why there’s such a, an Iron Curtain between the two. Usually, in more of the conversations I’m having people are coming to the wine, having a background and kombucha having a background in a craft cocktail, and sit in one of their issues with wine is that it’s a siloed area. It’s not I

Paul Mabray  38:46  

mean, it’s a different kind of product for sure. And it carries a it has a different consumption behavior. It’s also when you look at the size of build around it, it’s a harder problem to build and there’s not very many wind sites it’s pretty easy to throw up a liquor site and say how many kilos do I want to aggregate today? You know, it’s there different problems associated with that. And then liquor doesn’t sell across state lines as you know quite yet it’s in our view a little bit with you know, with COVID but I mean, there’s a lot going on. These are they’re siloed because of the way they sell in the market, absolutely not because of the site’s wind has gotten much more penetration, much more breakdown of those barriers is kind of a leader and the lobbyists have fought against spirits and beer much harder or the cost to ship beer. Until recently, you know, guys has gotten more and more high price, you know,

Drew Hendricks  39:36  

that makes sense. That makes sense. So Paul it as we kind of wrap things up. I gotta ask you, you mentioned the Rio ha, what are you drinking these days when no one’s looking?

Paul Mabray  39:48  

Yeah, you know, I’m trying a lot of stuff. I’m actually getting into volcanic winds pretty heavy actually be really honest with you like Canary Islands.

Drew Hendricks  39:55  

It’s what I was thinking of the pits in the Canary Islands where the vines grow at the Bottom of these three foot holes.

Paul Mabray  40:02  

Yeah Yeah, I love them. Yeah, yeah, I I’m a big fan as I think there’s something magical and special about the way they taste. And they’re unusual, I have to say and my maturity of wine, I end up kind of going down these weird idiosyncratic you know, journeys of strange varietals and then I stay on them for a while then jump ship to the next one. And you know, it’s just a little more fun. Obviously I enjoy great Napa Sonoma, you know, Santa barberio hub wines but I like going a little strange.

Drew Hendricks  40:32  

Yeah, tell me about that. canario and wine. I have not had one I’ve read about it. It’s been on my list.

Paul Mabray  40:38  

Yeah, you know, what’s really interesting is the say line, the solidity in the in the the white wines it really has salted shades like the ocean a little bit on that piece at you know, like a little bit of salt with like melons sometimes when you get some of the white wines and it’s really uniquely distinct you know, I enjoy that kind of flavor profile, it’s just it adds a little unusual is that solidity is really uniquely there try some wines from the Azores that are really amazing

Drew Hendricks  41:06  

debt I’m going to sounds like a most good day from like the

Paul Mabray  41:11  

area by the usually their native grapes actually a lot of them come in fact that they kind of have that protection. So where flocks are took out whole indigenous populations and grapes, that because their island based, right, they’ve been able to maintain those kind of weird native grapes, in fact that on these tours are preserved, the some of those indigenous grapes are the the way they’re looking to the future of Portuguese wines, you know, and how they can, you know, endure climate change. So it’s really fascinating from that perspective.

Drew Hendricks  41:40  

That’s fantastic. So Paul, is there anything else that you want everybody to know about a Pix that I haven’t asked?

Paul Mabray  41:46  

No, no, just come visit us come sign up as a beta tester. By this time, it will be live hopefully, you know, we’re gonna keep it as long as we have minimal low product, I can tell you that we really believe in our Pix community. So there’s gonna be all kinds of fun and and, you know, free, free free, we want to help you consumers feel like they come back to our sites, they can learn more about things about wine. So signing up with an email seems like a small thing, but it’s a big thing. There’s lots of benefits for it. So yeah, and then you can always find me on Twitter at pmabray. I believe that our were human company, and from the CEO, to everybody. We talked to our customers and to people we want to be human all the way through.

Drew Hendricks  42:25  

That’s fantastic. Well, Paul, thank you so much for joining us today.

Paul Mabray  42:29  

Thanks for having us. Right. We should have a glass of wine. In fact, next time, you’re Napa, let me know I’ll buy the bottle of wine. Forget from that one of the islands.

Drew Hendricks  42:36  

Oh, fantastic. And up there next week.

Paul Mabray  42:40  

Okay, I’m here. You notified me.

Drew Hendricks  42:42  

Thank you, talk. Talk to you later, Paul.

Outro  42:49  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.