Interview with Yoann Turpin

By Beatriz Romanos

– What is it for you Tech Tastes Wine?
Yoann Turpin – A very innovative way to socialize around tech startups while tasting wine. A fairly good way to mix learning and fun. And like any good thing, the event is always too short!

– I think you have been attending since the first event, how has it evolved?
Yoann Turpin – I have indeed. The diversity and size of the crowd has grown and there is not enough space around the table anymore! People come for the speakers as much as for the wine, which is always excellent by the way. The founder of Tech Wastes Wine, Maya Plentz, hand-picks wineries and importers of fine wines, and organic wine producers that have an interesting story to tell, so participants learn about wine production methods, economics, markets, logistics, and wine history as much as about varietals, vintages. It is not a wine tasting in the traditional sense; it is a master class for those interested in creating or investing in digital companies in the wine sector, or food, or fashion sectors. It is not a demo either, nor pitching, but entrepreneurs and investors speaking candidly how they go about launching their startups from concept to market, scaling issues, finding capital, going global, etc.

The goal of Tech Tastes Wine is to introduce tech entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts to one another for possible collaboration and investments, and at the same time learn about fine wines. From the start, we had investors like myself, and a mix of COO’s, CTOs, entrepreneurs and developers in fashion e-commerce, such as Not Just a Label, FineryLondon.com, and StylePilot.com. We also had the founder of a wine tasting app, and event management platforms, and the fashion e-commerce StyleCompare.com which has a very strong team behind it. Maya does a really great job of picking startups and founders that she has met before and has followed their progress over months; she is looking for startups that have the potential to become multimillion-pound global companies. So the investors who attend the events are sure to meet some of the sharpest teams working at Google Campus London and around Tech City, and entrepreneurs meet investors who are serious about providing seed capital and mentoring to get their companies off the ground.

– What do you think about the foodtech sector? What do you think are the most interesting opportunities in terms of innovation and in terms of investment?
Yoann Turpin – Because of issues of logistics, the foodtech sector still has a lot of room to grow. I find startups like Salez Poivrez in France or Gousto in the UK quite interesting: they basically deliver you the right amounts of ingredients to your office or home so that you can still manage long working hours and cook for your family! If you include food delivery in the foodtech sector, JustEat was the obvious one to invest in!

– How is this sector in Europe compared to USA? And Spain?
Yoann Turpin – Talking about Europe as a whole is quite problematic: the food market and its consumer habits can be very different between countries. If I take Gousto’s example a bit further that model picks up quite well in the UK but is a tough nut to crack in France! The main reason must be that French people don’t need anyone (or don’t think they do) to tell them how to cook! I would imagine Spain or Italy to be similar to France in that way and the UK, the USA and the Netherlands to be in another group.

– What is next, what are your expectations in this area for the next 5 years?
Yoann Turpin – The Food delivery market has already generated some very successful companies like JustEat or Deliveroo. Just like in the fashion industry where online penetration is lagging behind other sectors, we are likely to see more and more happening online and hopefully see a few disruptive models shake and renew the sector.

– What is / or should be the role of investors to facilitate or foster this industry?
Yoann Turpin – I am not sure if investors’ role in this sector should be different from any other: this depends on the stage and the level of relevant involvement investors want to have and the level of open-mindedness of their respective investees.

Some early stage investors like myself like to recommend and help with some of the early tech development (hence my involvement with Innovify), some business development, facilitating funding and many other things. I think it is important for founders and investors alike to have an open dialogue about the business in order to best answer clients’ needs. Things move fairly fast nowadays and knowing whether and when to pivot is getting harder every minute.

Yoann Turpin – The new kind of investors that crowdfunding brought in adds a very interesting mix to foster this industry. Crowdfunders, to me, are the perfect investor for product companies like in the food industry: they will be your evangelists. The recent developments with Seedrs and the Domaine Chanzy are a good example of that. Now do they understand your product enough to promote it? As a founder, you will have to make sure that is the case.

Besides food, which other industries you think will be disrupted by technology next? Fashion?
Yoann Turpin – Fashion is indeed lagging behind in terms of penetration. A lot of London startups experiment with business models like clothes renting (like RentezVous), clothes delivery before buying (you try them at home and you return what you don’t like) but logistics’ costs make it hard to iterate upon. There are a few like Lyst, StyleCompare, Stylect and others which use tech to unify the experience of buying fashion online. The huge diversity of technologies between fashion websites made information integration difficult but we are getting there.   Many other industries can be disrupted, but the serendipitous nature of innovation makes it impossible for me to guess really.

Beatriz Romanos is a  PR and Communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in ITC and in the mobile industry in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Turkey. She is the editor-in-chief of techfoodmag.com.