Are you epicurious about wine? Clement Hochart was seduced by the wine industry. He now lives in Singapore and has launched a useful wine lovers app.
What’s your story?
Originally from France, I started my career in India, where I was commissioning site manager for a year at Fives Stein, an industrial engineering group.
After India, I returned to France for a while and I worked for car manufacturer Renault. My job was not very complicated and meant I had plenty of free time to enjoy Paris! However I wanted to become an entrepreneur and I was looking into different things.
Finally, I quit and moved back to Asia. I found a job in Bangkok as a project manager for Vossloh Cogifer Asia Pacific in the railway industry. After a year working on ASEAN maintenance contracts, they put me in charge of Indian contracts for Delhi Metro.
During my free time, I started to work on a fun app to help wine lovers on their tasting journeys. I have always been a wine lover and I am curious to be more than just one of many. So, I started to taste more wine, to read more wine books, and to learn more about wines from all over the world. Step by step this app was not only fun and useful for wine lovers but it also became lucrative. Wine lovers needed it!
Investors loved the idea and decided to become shareholders of Epicurio, so I quit my job in India and relocated to Singapore to launch the company.
Today, Epicurio have seduced more than 6000 wine lovers in about 8 months and it is not going to stop.
What excites you most about your industry?
Wine and spirits has no end. You can learn all your life, be surprised and discover new regions, tastes and differences. This is what excites me the most.
From an entrepreneurial point of view, wines are the least developed e-commerce industry. You cannot find anything on Amazon.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I work more in Asia than in Europe. Most of my connections are in Asia now. We are currently in Singapore and from January 2016 we will extend to Hong Kong. My main goal is to be across Asia in the next 3 years.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! It is the best market in Asia for the wine industry as it has the highest retail market value per capital.
Also, Singapore government makes everything easy for startups. All documentation and services are online and they encourage, scalable infocommunication startups like Epicurio.
Singapore was the best place to start Epicurio. I have been building relationships with merchants, creating a team and selling wines and spirits ever since I moved there.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Make it simple and start it now. Go do some business!
Who inspires you?
From the beginning I was really inspired by Adrian Vanzil who instilled in me, the startup spirit. But there were many people later on who have shared their expertise and advice with me. These people include: Stéphanie Rigourd, Isabelle Larché, Jamey Merkel, Adrien Barthel, Arthur Bontemps.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Petrol stations in Europe make about 80% of their profit from the shop and 20% from petrol. And, my biggest discovery in the internet startup world is the capacity of getting a lot of qualitative, and accurate information from an online or mobile platform. Not so much about the personal data but that all movement can be recorded.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Entrepreneurship is a permanent training lesson, that is why it is hard and fun at the same time.
Well, if you think of it, there are always many things you could have done differently. But after everything, it has all helped me build my company and I have grown with it to become a CEO. It is never a good thing to regret. The only thing I am sure I would have done in the beginning is to hire a CTO from the outset.
How do you unwind?
Enjoying a nice bottle of wine with some homemade food and people you love is the best way to unwind.
If I had more free time, I would definitely sail in regattas. That is something I miss, since I have been in Asia.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bintan, a small resort which is a 1 hour drive from the harbour. It is close to Singapore, quiet and peaceful, with no wifi.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Lean Startup by Eric Ries, 2011
Shameless plug for your business:
Epicurio is a wine and spirits social marketplace which is changing the way people buy and enjoy wines.
Epicurio allows beginners, wine lovers and connoisseurs to buy wine on the go from a network of importers. They can invite their friends in the App, see their tasting notes and receive recommendations from them.
How can people connect with you?
[email protected] (feel free to drop me an email about wine, food or business)
www.epicurio.co (right now we are having $10 promo on your first purchase when you sign-up)
www.facebook.com/epicurioandco (good way to connect with us and keep in touch for events)
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>