Wine Library TV and Cork'd
Launched: February, 2006
Founded by: Gary Vaynerchuk
Number of employees: 6
Traffic: 40,000 daily viewers on Wine Library TV; 45,000 registered users on Cork'd
Founder's favorite wine at the moment: Kenwood 1992 Chardonnay
What it does: Daily video blog (WineLibrary TV), wine forum, and review site (Cork'd)
How it makes money: Advertising (on Cork'd)
Gary Vaynerchuk had already expanded his family's wine store in Springfield, N.J., from 4,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet and launched a thriving online retailer called WineLibrary.com when he started posting daily wine videos online. His brash, Jersey-guy style has garnered WineLibrary TV 40,000 daily viewers, he says. The biggest hurdle was convincing viewers he wasn't just recommending wines he wanted to sell. "After about a year of panning wines often, it built up an enormous amount of credibility for me, because people were just amazed that I would actually pan wines I sell," he says. That street cred in the online wine world helped Vaynerchuk buy Cork'd, a wine social network and review site, when the founders put it up for sale. He says he regularly turns down sponsorship offers for Wine Library TV because "it's something that I needed for my soul, not my pocket."
Secret to success: WineLibrary TV maintains credibility among its following because Vaynerchuk hasn't monetized the online video site. The exposure, in turn, drives Vaynerchuk's core retail business and sends viewers to Cork'd.