Starting a Wine Business
Interview with Dan Kirsche, Founder of Kosherwine.com
In 1998, college student Dan Kirsche helped out his family business by building them a web site. Today, Koserwine.com is a successful stand alone business.
Dan Kirsche built and manages the largest online kosher wine business in the nation. Today he runs his business while he works on his MBA degree.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
We are a Kosher Wine online retailer. We started about 10 years ago and are now the largest Kosher Wine retailer in the country. Check out our selection at Kosherwine.com.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Unfortunately it isn't a very romantic story. I started it in college because my family had a supermarket and they wanted to have a website so I created one for them. When I graduated from college in 2001 as a Computer Science major I couldn't find a job so I decided to redesign KosherWine.com so that we could take orders online. I mostly did this as a short term project until I could find a job. But it was very successful and I couldn't leave.
Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers ...? Would you suggest others do the same?
I used friends of family for an accountant and bookkeeper. Lawyers scare me so I use them as little as possible.
Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?
By default I had my father as a partner because I was sharing wine inventory with the supermarket. Luckily he is a silent partner and has no control over day to day operations. My belief is to stay away from partners as much as I can. It is very important for a business to have one leader. I have seen too many businesses broken apart because of two leaders wanting to take the business in two separate directions.
Have you hired additional staff? What is your greatest human resources challenge?
We currently have 4 employees. The greatest challenge is relying on these employees to come to work. Unfortunately I find that we have to have more employees scheduled because someone is always calling in sick.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Business has changed drastically and has become very competitive. I would suggest that most people fail in this business because they believe that they are going to win over customers by selling the same products for less. This never works, so if you are going to start a business make sure you will be offering something to the customers other then best prices.
Thank you Dan for sharing your story. Good luck with your business and graduate school.
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