Boston-based Drync has revamped its popular wine-tracking app to lets users who snap photos of the wine they are drinking order it on the spot.
The app lets users scan a wine label on a bottle, billboard, or in a picture from a magazine with their iOS mobile device. (It will also shortly be made available on Android.) Then, using image recognition technology, it quickly combs through a database of more than 1.7 million wines to identify the wine by variety, region, and price.
It subsequently gives users the option to have the wine shipped to their address by matching their location (identified via GPS) with one of its wine suppliers, which have access to more than 30,000 wines. If the wine is not available, the app recommends and offers to ship the user a similar one.
This all happens in a matter of seconds, according to Drync Chief Executive Brad Rosen. "We are using the Internet to piece together a fabric of winery partners. Users should never have to buy a bad wine again," he says.
The original idea for the app, which started as a way to let users track and share wine recommendations, came to Rosen while traveling with his wife through Italy. He began snapping photos of the wines they enjoyed there to remember later. When he returned home, he started researching the U.S. wine market, which according to Wine Intelligence sees almost $34 billion in sales annually.
"It was a fragmented market and had seen little technology disruption," Rosen tells ClickZ. There is no centralized database of wine nor do most wines use a barcode, making them difficult to locate, he notes. On top of that, most retailers only stock 1,000 to 2,000 wines, or less than 2 percent of the wines available in a given market, which makes it difficult to find a specific wine.
About half a million people downloaded the early version of the app, which was launched in 2008. The new version, launched this week - which has been in beta since January - comes on the heels of a $900,000 investment from angel investors including Mark Hastings, managing partner of Garvin Hill Capital Fund, financial industry executive Jack Remondi, and Andrew Moss, founder of BuyWithMe. That is a follow-on to earlier seed investment obtained in August 2012.
Drync has also expanded its network of suppliers and broadened its offering from 18 to 41 states. The company gets a commission each time one of the wineries sells to Drync users.
Early on, Drync sought to offer flash wine sales to members of its email list, but that proved difficult to sustain and monetize, Rosen says. "We backed into the notion of enabling users to buy any wine," he says of the transition into an app focused on e-commerce.
But the company is not planning to have advertisements disrupt the experience of its mobile app. Instead, advertisers will be able to offer targeted promotions via the company's email list. "We are very focused on the user experience," says Rosen. "We see ourselves as establishing a relationship with consumers who show an affinity towards a brand," he says, which should present enough other opportunities for advertisers. The app can also scan the ads of wine advertisements.
Rosen says he expects about one million downloads for the relaunched app by year's end.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
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