Interview with Anthony Zhang from Vinovest

This week, Horacio sat down with Anthony Zhang, Founder & CEO of Vinovest. It was a short chat but a good one.

Discussion topics include:

  • What it took to build his first business as a 19-year old, a food delivery service called EnvoyNow
  • His decision to drop out of college to build his business
  • The advice he gives to young, aspiring entrepreneurs
  • The spinal cord injury that changed his life
  • Recovering and having the motivation to return to being a CEO to resurrect his EnvoyNow
  • After selling EnvoyNow, Anthony creates his second company; Know Your VC
  • The genesis of Vinovest and the importance of gifting high quality wines in Asian culture
  • VinoVest as a platform to help give more accessibility to retail investors
  • His process in building Vinovest from scratch with his co-founder
  • Vinovest’s strategy in tweaking its investing algorithm, offering investment tiers, risk-weighted options, and owning the physical bottle
  • How investors can profit from their investments on VinoVest Why Vinovest is expanding into whiskey

You can listen to the podcast through Spotify or YouTube.


[HORACIO RUIZ]

Hi, welcome to the Alternative Assets podcast I’m Horacio Ruiz, and my guest today is Anthony Zang, Co-founder and CEO of Vinovest. Vinovest curates a collection of an investable wines at different price points, with more than 55 million dollars in investments. Today, we’ll look at the future of the company as it expands into whiskey, and Anthony’s journey as an entrepreneur. Thanks for being here, Anthony.

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Horacio It’s a pleasure. I’m glad to be here as well. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Anthony, we have so much to discuss today. Thank you for joining us. I kind of want to start though in learning about your background and your history. Really want to start even before your college days, because you are what, I mean, someone would consider a serial entrepreneur. Would you agree with that? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, I’ve been building businesses pretty much my whole life. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Did you find that prior to when you were maybe a young kid, a teenager, you had that entrepreneurial DNA in you? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

I Think it was always a goal of mine to build a business. I just didn’t really know what path it would take to get there. Kind of thought it be like a, get into a good school and then get a good resume with internships to get a good job after school, and then go get an MBA. And then maybe after that I’d have enough money to start a business. But obviously as we’ll talk about more on our conversation today, didn’t really turn out that way. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. I mean it seems like life kind of hands you curve balls for sometimes for better and worse. Right. And something I also want to get into it with you about taking that traditional path. And kind of taking that path where your kind of are almost called to take that. But your first big company, or your first big founding was at USC, where you started a company called Envoy 

Now?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. So Envoy now was my first real business. It was a food delivery app for college campuses. much like your Door Dashes and Uber Eats of the world. What really made us special was that we were only available to students. So the app was gated. You needed the EDU email of your school to even be a member. And that meant that our supply network, as well as our demand network was all students and teachers. So that labeled an extra layer of trust in the community within these deliveries. And got really lucky, honestly, with my first business. I had the opportunity to pitch Mark Cuban and get my first investment offer from him. And a few weeks later had the opportunity to pitch Peter Teal and he was running, or is still running a program called the Teal Fellowship where he literally hands you a hundred thousand dollars, no strings attached, on the equity side. But the only stipulation is that you can’t be in school. So with kind of the blessing of these two folks who I looked up to and respected my whole life, was able to have the freedom to be able to drop out of college and really take my first business seriously and put everything I had into it. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I know that you pitched Mark Burnett and Mark Cubin right at a Shark Tank type of show?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. He was actually at our school for a guest speaker series. But to your point, Mark Burnett was there and he’s the executive producer of the show. So it was an impromptu live recorded version of Shark Tank. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And I read somewhere that he offered to, at that point, when you pitched him Envoy Now, he pitched you a hundred thousand dollars for a 5% share. So he gave you a 2-million-dollar valuation right there?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. Then he took it back and it was a 10% share. So that was the deal that we ended with, but either way the having a business that’s worth in the seven figures to a 19-year-old, that was like the biggest number I could’ve thought of. Like someone thinks my business is worth a million dollars. It was such a crazy moment for me to realise that what I was building, which was just really a side hustle, it was actually worth something. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. And so then you’re faced with this. Was it a dilemma? Because you’re 19 years old, you have this idea of “Hey, I’m going to get a degree, I’m going to take this route, and be successful”. But all of a sudden there, it’s been kind of derailed, like the company’s successful beyond your wildest fantasies, right. So early, was that a tough decision or something that you’re like, no this is something I have to go for? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

It was absolutely something I have to go for. Because the opportunity cost of not taking that chance was just something that I don’t think I could have stomached. I was very fortunate to be able to meet a lot of entrepreneurs who were maybe a year or two older than me that had also made that decision. And talking with them and their parents talking with my parents, and all of that kind of helped us make a decision that this was – college is always going to be there for you. Your credits can be paused, and your degree will still be there. But this opportunity will not, if you don’t take it. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Absolutely. Always kind of curious, like if you had a student or you’re in a position where younger people come to you for advice, is it something where you’re almost always going to tell them go for it or, or is it something that you got to weigh each situation individually?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Definitely individually, like you mentioned, I do get a lot of folks who are either in, some in high school even, but mostly college, that are thinking about dropping out and thinking about running their own business and pursuing their dreams early. And I think my number one piece of advice is that are you able to still stay in school and do what you want to do? If not, do you have the means to support yourself? If you wanted to take a semester off. A lot of people can get sucked into the romance or the glamor of being like a startup CEO, right. That’s something that a lot of people look up to. But the reality is that most of us are going to fail. And even those of us who are successful, see a lot of failure. And I think that is something that you need to become more comfortable with before you make such a big decision. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Some good advice there. Never an easy answer. Right. But at some point, you have to weigh the practical with what could be. Could you describe to me at that at Its peak where you were at with Envoy Now? Like how many people were working for you, or who you were working with and how far along did you get where you would say that the company was thriving? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, so we built that business over the course of almost four years, right before we got acquired, we were in 22 markets nationwide. We had a little over 60 team members and I think almost 2000 actual like student drivers, or we call them Envoys, actually delivering on the platform. And we had hundreds of thousand students using the app. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Wow. So it was thriving. Then you ended up getting acquired. And this is kind of where I kind of want to go on a side road here, kind of in the middle. Right. Or you would, I would say maybe in the middle, at some point you were at a pool party and you kind of dove into a pool. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. This was about five years ago now. I suffered a spinal cord injury during that. Those of you are not familiar with that what a spinal cord injury is, you essentially, you break your spine and your spinal cord, which controls not just your motor movements, but all of the things that go along with it. Your feeling, your sensation, a lot of your things that keep you alive. And instantly I was paralysed from the neck down. Was on a ventilator for almost four months after that. And pretty much had to relearn every single thing I knew in life. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So it was almost like your – I mean, obviously your life changed in an instant. How did you balance that your own kind of personal setback? You know if like a tragedy almost, if I could say that, with this thriving business that you have, this responsibility, right, that you have because you’ve created such a successful business. Did you feel it was overwhelming? Did you feel like, no, I’m going to get this done? What was your mindset? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, I mean at first it was complete shock and denial of what happened. Right. I had no idea that how the severity of the spinal cord injury. I never met anyone who had my type of accent or condition. I thought it was something just like a broken bone or a car crash, right. Like you can heal bones, you can do rehabilitation to get back there. But what I didn’t know was that the spinal cord doesn’t really heal like that. And my condition is permanent. I’m still in a wheelchair today and have very limited movement in my upper extremities. And nothing in my lower extremities. And having that diagnosis brought to me, it took a lot to process. So for the first few months I was just trying to adjust. Fight for my life and be able to get to the point where I can even breathe on my own again. So the business was the last thing on my mind. My co-founders had kind of taken over in my capacity, and we were running business. But I really didn’t know if I would ever even be able to run a business, much less to even get out of the hospital. Like what’s my life going to even look like? And it wasn’t until I want to say five – four or five months after my injury until I was strong enough to even be able to use a smartphone again. And from that, I had a desire to at least be like “Hey, well, I was a CEO running a business at one point, how’s this business doing? I just wasn’t there yet until months later. And that’s really what honestly, having that hunger to be like “hey, I actually do want to go back to seeing if I can run a business”. Of course it’s going to be a lot different than I used to before, but I want to try. Right. And that took me months to get to that point. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I guess I kind of want to delve a little, even just a little bit deeper into that. Like that mindset right, of I’m going to come back and I’m going do this. What changed in you? How did, did your outlook change? Maybe this the way you saw things personally or kind of on a different level change?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

It was really – I think at a crossroads, I had to make a decision because my co-founders wanted to actually return all of our investor money and shut down the business. So I disagreed with that decision, and I had to come back as CEO. No one else was going to run the company if it was just, all of the co-founders had left. So for me, I was like “I want to see how far I can push myself. And I want to be able to still do something that I used to love”. Right. Thankfully I don’t have any damage to my brain from that accident. So I can still make decisions as a CEO. I just need a lot of help with the actual day to day execution and being able to communicate with my team. So that was really the turning point. My co-founders came to me. They said “hey, like we want to leave”. I said, no. And they said, “well, we can’t have no one running the company”. And that’s when I told them, I was like, “hey, I want to run the company”. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

At that point, the company had had some setbacks. And from what I understand, right, you were able to build it back up?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yep. That’s exactly right. We weren’t in a great place after me being out of commission for six months. But what I did realise was that I just didn’t want to give up on the company. We poured almost four years of our life into, at that point. And just to roll over and give up, just didn’t seem right to me. I owed it to myself. I owed it to our investors. I owed it to all of the employees that we had brought on board to be able to give ourselves one last shot at a good outcome. And that was, I think, what really fueled and drove all of us to turn the business around was that setbacks happen, disappointments happen. But it’s really how you respond to those and want to be able to show to yourselves and to others that “hey, like we tried as hard as we could. We gave it the time of day and effort and attention that this company deserved given how much of a time and money investment people had put into it”. So I thought that we had just really seen it through the right way and thankfully we were able to have multiple buyouts offers with Envoy Now. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Awesome. And then, so we mentioned that you’re kind of a serial entrepreneur. You always had this dream of creating your own business and the next thing was, I know you’re VC. Can you describe what that was? Cause I know that’s also kind of like a – it came about from, I guess, a personal incident between you and a friend. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. An VC is a, essentially a Yelp for rating angel investors. And it really started because we heard all this terrible news from Silicon Valley VC’s, from female and other minority background founders on how these venture capitalists were really just saying and doing horrible things. Not only from a discrimination standpoint, but even bordering on harassment and assault. And to me, as a very very fortunate, a male was able to come with no connections with, through Mark Cuban and Peter Teal was able to quickly fast track myself. Fundraising is always hard, but it was never to the point where I felt like I was being disrespected or I felt that I was unsafe because of who I was. And that just really made me feel so strongly that there needed to be more transparency in this space, where a lot of the deals are done behind closed doors. Right. I saw a lot of parallels between what was going on in Silicon Valley and how the whole Harvey Weinstein scandal broke down. And we just thought there needed to be a website where people could share their honest opinions and encounters. And that’s how a VC came to life. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

In reading about that. I never would’ve thought that you could, in essence kind of hold some, I guess, pretty wealthy angel investors, right, hold them accountable almost. And in some ways, it’s almost go back three, four years, it would be kind of unheard of right? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Absolutely. I mean, we really wanted to do something that hadn’t really been done before.

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So you have that company, but then that also gets acquired, correct?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Mm-hmm [affirmative]

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And so then it kind of brings us into Vinovest, which is kind of like your baby. I know you’re a co-founder. How did you come across this idea of wine as an investment and kind of, what was your background with wine? Was it something that you were, already had a deep knowledge of, or something that you kind of have picked up along the way?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

With Vinovest, I really had no experience with investing in wine. However, what I did know was that there was value with these old wines, these rare wines, because I’d grown up in Beijing and Hong Kong. From a cultural standpoint, wine, especially wine from France, from key regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy were just a huge part of society, right? You want to go to a family friends house, or you’re looking to do a business dinner, and the gift that you bring to them at these dinners, or these events really does reflect your level of respect for them. And that’s when I knew these wines really had something more than just getting older and changing taste and flavour. What I didn’t know was how strong of an asset class it was. I remember a few years back before I started Envoy Now just researching like hey, what are the ultra-wealthy people investing in these days? And kind of no surprise at the top of that list was like art, wine, whiskey, jewelry, and all these sorts of luxury asset classes or passion asset classes as people call them. And I was like, hey I’ve always been interested in wine. I’m no expert, but it sounds like a really fun way to be able to dive into a potential passion while also making some money on the side. And after I had spent a few weeks just researching the space and talking to folks that were a lot more experienced, that been collecting for years, maybe even decades, I realised why wine investing is thought of as such an exclusive, or sort of behind closed-door things is that it is. There’s so many barriers to entry, right? From, from storage to the right knowledge of which wines are investible versus not. And then the access, right. A lot of these wine are not available publicly. You needed to know someone who knows someone to be able to get your hands on the bottle, even if you can’t afford it. And all those problems, it stems back to, I think, just giving everybody a fair chance, making things, knowledge accessible. That was the same problem I tried to solve in a very different space. But at the core of it, Vinovest existed. And I wanted it to exist because we wanted to bring more accessibility into this really exclusive elite closed off asset class, like fine wine. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

What was that like? I know you mentioned previously fundraising and how that’s almost like a constant, how do you go about fundraising for a company that’s going to start offering these investments in some of the most expensive – one of the most expensive asset classes. How do you go about acquiring all these great wines from all these different regions across the world?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. So Vinovest, all of it was just from my own experiences at first, right. I didn’t have room to store wines in my apartment here in Los Angeles. So I reached out and found professional storage facilities all around the world next to key wine growing regions. I didn’t really know what to pick for wines. So my co-founder and I, we designed an algorithm, and we put that onto the wine market data and back tested it. We didn’t know, now that we’re like, all right, the algorithm can tell us which wines to buy. We didn’t have access to those wines, right. We didn’t know where to buy them and how to buy them. And that’s when a little bit of luck came into play. My next door neighbors in the apartment complex. Their daughter and son-in-law are both of master Sommeliers. As for those who don’t know what a master Soms is it, it’s essentially the highest level certification that you can obtain in the wine industry. There’s less than 300 people ever, who have even obtained that level of title. So these folks were wine industry experts, veterans. Like they are very much so ingrained with the top of the top. And after I told them about my concept for Vinovest, they were excited. And having that industry buy-in was key for us when it came to sourcing these wines. Especially as a new company.

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I got to go back. We talk a lot about hard work, skill, you need all that, but then to have the son and Daughter, right? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yep. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

On the necks of them already being these people that there’s less than 300 of in the world. Right. That’s a pretty cool thing to happen to you, you know. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. What are the odds? Right. So especially in a business-like wine investing, it’s not like any Silicon Valley entrepreneur has this sort of chance encountered. So definitely considered myself very lucky. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So let’s talk about what you’ve built up so far. You have wines from all around the world. Let’s talk about it from on your side, right? What are the offerings? What are you looking to constantly kind of like acquire? Does that change over time? And like you said, you have all these different regions. Do you have contacts in different parts of the world? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

That’s exactly how it is. Even though Vinovest is based in LA, we’ve got our contacts and our infrastructure all around the world. So if our wine is bought Napa, we’re storing it in Napa warehouse. If the wine is bought in Bordeaux, we’re storing it in the Bordeaux warehouse and vice versa. So, we want to, by default, keep the wine as close to where it’s produced and stored as possible that minimises any sort of risk around the storage of the wine. And it also helps us from an environmental as well as a cost saving basis. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Definitely. And you mentioned also your algorithm that you developed with your co-founder, does that get constantly tweaked or changed? Is that kind of how you get the recommendations for the investors? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, so we do, we want to be able to always update our algorithm according to new movements in the market. According to new things that we learn that can potentially help our strategy. So it’s something that we’re constantly tweaking to be able to have better returns for our investors. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So now going on the investor side, let’s say someone’s looking to sign up with Vinovest, they have three options, correct? They have where they invest a thousand dollars, they invest $5,000 or they can invest 50,000 or more if they want, is that right? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

So you can invest any amount between a thousand and up. What those plans are. We have plans at the 10K, 50K and 250K level. They bring additional benefits, reduced fees, additional experiences, and then also a different level of service, right. The, the entry level starter plan is fully automated. You’re working with a Robo advisor. We’re making all the decisions for you. But when you start to get into those higher plans, you get a dedicated portfolio manager. And if you want to be able to source something special and have a little bit more control over your investing experience, that’s where we tend to see more investors gravitate toward. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And you actually – the investors when they go into those different levels, they actually own a whole bottle, right? The bottles of wine themselves. They don’t own a fraction of the bottles. They don’t own a share of the bottles. They own the bottles themselves. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Exactly. So this is a pure investment into the wine bottle, the wine case, you’re not sharing with anybody, you own it, you can actually even drink it if you wanted to. It’s real. And it’s all yours. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Also, what I saw on there is you have different also risk tolerances, right? So a potential investor will answer a questionnaire and they’ll be asked a risk preference, and then they’ll put in a certain amount. What are the differences in wines? If you can, if you can tell us, like, let’s say I’m a conservative investor and I want to put into the $5,000 fund. What’s the difference in the type of wines in a conservative portfolio for $5,000 as opposed to a risky one, I guess, for $5,000? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. Great question. So just like stocks and bonds, traditional investments, it’s your equivalent of like a blue-chip wine. These would be wines that are maybe from Bordeaux or burgundy or a very established wine region. The price increases are very steady, low volatility, and very predictable. And on the other hand, if you want to go more speculative or risky, there are your equivalent of emerging market wines, right? These are maybe newer winemakers or newer wine regions or newer wines from an established winery that offer a little bit more upside, but with more risk. So that’s how we look to balance people’s risk appetites. We also take into account their time horizon as well as the dollar amount, right. If you’re putting in $5,000, we’re not going to be buying a 5,000-dollar bottle of wine because you wouldn’t be diversified. We’d want to give you lower price point wines that can give you exposure into different regions and different vintages. So that even within the asset class of wine, you can still enjoy diversification. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So let’s say I have this fund, it’s at $5,000. And I check back, let’s say six months later. And I find that a couple of my bottles have appreciated. I don’t know, by a couple hundred dollars. At that point, do you have the ability to sell your bottle? How liquid is it because you know you can take the bottle and you can consume it yourself. So that in that sense, it’s very liquid. But how liquid is it if I want to sell off the investment? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. So if you want to be able to sell, we do have an open market so we can sell your wine to anybody else who’s a counterparty on a platform, whether it be a retailer, a high-end restaurant, another wine collector. And it’s, I would say, much like an open market where you can see all the active bids and offers on any given wine and be able to then exit your positions that way if you choose to. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And what are the price appreciations? How do you track those? How do you track whether or not a certain wine or brand has started to appreciate or even depreciate? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, great questions. And so we track all sales all around the world. So to us a sale is the same as a trade, right? It’s somebody selling a bottle wine to another person, and we want to be able to track and normalise all those data points that are happening. Whether it be for consumption or investment. Right. And that helps us be able to then in turn, give the investors a more up to date and accurate mark to market. So for example, if I sold somebody else the same bottle of wine that you have for 300 bucks a bottle, that’s the updated mark to market, right? That’s the most recent transaction that’s happened that can help you determine what you can reasonably expect for your wine too. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Is that related? because I saw you have the index fund right. You’ve put a hundred different wines, and you use that to also kind of track, I guess, the whole wine industry. Right. And it’s appreciation. I know it’s a little bit different here. All these data points go into kind of tracking the historical value of these wines. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Exactly. So that one is very much so if you want a broader sense of like, hey how’s the wine market doing? Right. Just like there’s an S and P 500. Look at the greatest 100 wineries and the wines they produce. We are able to then track those prices on the secondary market. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

How has that gone with the investors? Who are your investors right now? Are they retail investors kind of individuals? Or are you beginning to see bigger, I guess, companies or funds kind of show interest in what you’re building? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. So it’s both. We’ve got those two segments where the retail investors, they’re using our platform and are able to then self-direct and be able to put in however much money they want. And then on the other hand, we’ve got the more so institutional side, your RAA’s, family offices that are managing money on behalf others and looking for wine as a means of diversification. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Do you see one market getting bigger than the other or growing faster than the other?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

I think for us, we’re really seeing explosion on the retail side. I think for RA’s and other institutional investors, even though the dollar amount is larger, right, there’s just less of them out there. We could get a million users and maybe get a hundred RAA’s. But maybe those a hundred RAA’s are actually putting in more money than those million users combined. So there is that sort of gut dichotomy there where some of them, the big clients are worth more, but there just can be less of them. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And then you guys have recently expanded right? Do you find yourself that you’re always kind of in the middle of fundraiser because there’s always the next thing? And then the next in the sense that you want to grow the business, you want to get more investors. But also like, are there certain trends that you’re spotting? And that you kind of want to grow into different areas? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah. For us, like we’re really using the capital that we raise to just build a better customer experience. We’re still very early. And the thing that we’re really proud of that we launched about a month ago as our mobile app. Which is just another step of making investing in wine that much more accessible. And when we look at opportunities, not only are we looking at different opportunities within our own user base, whether it be going global, or targeting other segments of the market, but we also see value in being able to build a big and bold plan in this sort of wine and spirits category. So one thing that we will be launching next year is whiskey investing, and like wine, whiskey enjoys a lot of the same price and return dynamics, but also is plagued by a lot of the same accessibility problems, right. Who’s going to have a space in their home to store giant cask of whiskey, how do they get their hands on that whiskey? How do they accurately price it? Who do they sell it to right? Those are all problems that we’ve solved with Vinovest. And built expertise in that we can then be able to translate into the playbook for an adjacent asset. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I know that you know, whiskey and wine, they kind of, they go together, right. They’re fine, investments and kind of like spirits or fine wines. But from what I understand, right, whiskeys almost even more difficult. Even proving the provenance and keeping track of the product sometimes. Can you talk about the challenges in going from wine to whiskey or do you find that they’re actually, you know, it’s pretty relatable?

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

For the most part, they are very relatable. Provenance is a problem in the wine world in any sort of luxury, good world as well. Knowing where that asset is from. Storage insurance are also big problems. And I think the other thing is accurately valuing, right. If you have a limited edition bottling where there’s only 200 of them ever, how do you make good price comparisons and be data driven with your analysis? So those are all really interesting challenges that we’re running into every day on both the wine and on our exploration of the whiskey side. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. It’s funny because we’ve done a couple of analysis on alternative assets about – with very expensive whiskeys. And we did one recently and there was maybe like one comp right in the last two and a half years. Rally was fractionising [Unintelligible 00:30:03] whiskey. And we’re looking at it and we’re looking at it. And we come to realise like, there’s only been one sale and it was an auction. You know, it wasn’t even like a private sale or anything like that. Yeah. It’s, some of this stuff is so rare. Right. And some of it is so new, right. Because it’s been stores for so many years. It’s a fascinating kind of space.

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

It is. And it forces you to get created, right. When you only have one comp and it’s not really a direct comp, what can you do to be able to become informed and data driven enough to be able to confidently make a recommendation? 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I kind of want to focus a little bit more with the Whiskeyvest. Right. Where do you want to see that go? Is this kind of going to be like a similar set up to Vinovest? Or do you feel like maybe now that you have like this second class? There’s some different things that you can do with the user experience or even the investments themselves.

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, great question. So it’s really going to be seamless and feel a lot like the Vinovest platform. So I’ll have one login, multiple portfolios where you can be able to view wine and whiskey, wine or whiskey it up to you. And having the same sort of guarantees and assurances around insurance, around authenticity, around condition to make sure that that asset is safe and always yours. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. And at the moment, when do you anticipate maybe launching that? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

I would say this is something that we’d like to do next year. Not really sure what the timeline would be there. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

One more question here, Anthony, I kind of wanted to talk a little bit about your team and what you’ve built, right. Because like we discussed earlier, you have this – you’re operating on a multinational level, right. What is the breadth and scope of your team right now? What does it take to run a Vinovest? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, we’re really lucky to be a globally desensualised company. Even before the pandemic hit, my co-founder and I, Brent, we were like hey, we want to just build a real company from the core. So, it’s in our DNA. That’s also enabled us to hire incredible individuals from all walks of life, from all places, countries, states all different time zones. Which I think has really helped us be able to grow our expertise now that we have coverage in Asia, in Europe, in the Americas. And we’re able to have that sort of global coverage because wine is global, right? Wine is grown in different places, stored in different places. Our customer base lives in different places. And we want to be able to accommodate that in the best way that we can. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And with that I kind of want to add on something, because you’re good at this. I know you are, what would be your pitch for a potential investor whose looking at wine as an investment and then specifically at Vinovest as the platform to go to for those investments? 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, I mean I would say if you’re looking to diversify into something that’s uncorrelated with the market, that’s I think the first decision, right. And I think number two is looking at your time horizon. If you are looking for something that is around, let’s say, at least three to seven years at the minimum, then wine could probably a good asset for you in your portfolio. And then when it comes to actually managing the asset, Vinovest is really the place to do it because we do everything for you. You have the flexibility of being able to check on your smartphone. Like it was your Robin hood or Swab account. But you also have the flexibility of being a wine drinker. You own that tangible asset. I think, especially in these sort of inflationary days, this is especially important to be able to have that sort of hard asset as a part of your portfolio. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. Awesome. Anthony thank you for sharing your story. I know your background and for talking about Vinovest. Really incredible, you know when I first heard about your company and you, I was like, oh, this is really cool. And then, maybe a couple weeks later I come to find out more about, kind of some of the adversity that you faced. And I was like, wow, okay, there’s another layer there. So I just want to thank you for sharing that. It speaks volume, right. Volumes about, I guess the depths you would take to go and work something out and kind of not let something fail and to continue working and persevering. So thanks for sharing that. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Yeah, absolutely. Very much so learned to be an open book through my journey through tough times and through good times. So I appreciate you giving me the chance to speak about it too. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Absolutely. It was my pleasure. I’m sure it’s going be our listener’s pleasure. Hopefully we can have you back soon at some point in the coming months and kind of get an update. Maybe even talk a little bit more about if Whiskeyvest is live. 

[ANTHONY ZHANG]

Absolutely. We’ll thanks again. I Enjoyed the chat, great show and hopefully we can do this again soon as well. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Absolutely, take care Anthony. 

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Author

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio is a veteran math teacher of the New York City public school system. Prior to teaching, he lived in New Orleans where he worked in sales for the New Orleans Hornets before joining The Institute for Sport and Social Justice to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He currently lives in Staten Island with his wife, Alicia, his three sons; Oliver, Henry, and Jacob, and their pitt-mi,x Tipitina. In 2019, Horacio published a biography, The White Knight: Calvin Patterson and the Integration of Florida State University Football.

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