Bottlenotes Aims to Be the Netflix of Wine

Justin Hibbard

One-year-old Bottlenotes, Inc. wants to do for wine clubs what Netflix has done for DVD rentals. The Palo Alto (Calif.)-based startup runs a Web site that matches wines to customers' personal tastes much like Netflix recommends movies. New members answer an online questionnaire and then receive their first shipment of wines based on their responses. They rate the wines online and then receive another, more customized shipment. In theory, the wines should get better with more ratings. (I hope it works better than Netflix, which still recommends Chicken Little to me after 483 ratings.) The company's board includes Netflix co-founder Jim Cook, Cakebread Cellars winery founder and CEO Jack Cakebread, and Tiger Management hedge fund founder Julian Robertson, who is also an investor. Founder and CEO Alyssa Rapp is a Stanford MBA who formerly worked at RO Imports, a startup importer of New Zealand wines. Co-founder Kimberly Donaldson has consulted on marketing for various wineries. Bottlenotes raised a first round of $637,504 in March from Robertson and 12 other accredited investors--a pittance by Silicon Valley standards and perhaps an indication that this venture requires little startup capital.

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