Tech Tastes Wine with 500 Startups

Tech Tastes Wine with 500 Startups

It is all about #growth: post-seed companies in Europe and how to leverage relationships with big corporations to scale. This edition of Tech Tastes Wine will be addressing growth, with 500 Startups Matt Ellsworth, who is a mentor in their program in San Francisco.

About 500 Startups

500 Startups announced the launch of a new program, the Distro Dojo to help post-seed companies in Europe scale growth and close their next round of funding.  Using capital from the previously-announced Distro Fund, 500 startups plans to invest in 20 European companies over the next year at cheque sizes of between £100,000 to £200,000.  In addition to receiving funding, companies will participate in a three-month program focused on customer acquisition. The first month will be in-residence at the new WeWork building in Moorgate, and program tuition is approximately £30,000 (paid from a portion of the investment).

Thoughts on Leadership: Meet Tak Lo

Date: Wednesday August 5th at 7PM

Meet Tak Lo, director of Techstars London, a top 10 US accelerator.

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Steven Spurrier

“Tasting is intelligent drinking. It is paying attention. It is not hedonistic.”  

Steven Spurrier


Meet Jon Bradford

Meet Jon Bradford

Wednesday 8th July at 7 pm at The Collective HQ  Get tickets here.

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About Techstars:

Techstars is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator founded by David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown, and Jared Polis that holds 13 week programs for startups in Boulder, New York City, Boston, Seattle, San Antonio, Austin, Chicago and London. It is considered one of the best startup accelerators in the world. Fewer than 1% of the companies that apply to Techstars are accepted.


Tech Tastes Wine at Ceviche Old Street

Buy tickets for June 23rd 7 to 9 PM at Ceviche Old

Martin Morales is our featured speaker on June 23rd. We will taste the exquisite Peruvian fusion cuisine at his newly opened Ceviche Old Street, and sample natural wines from the best producers in Chile.  Join us for an evening of great conversation, food, and wine.

After running iTunes Pan Europe and most recently Disney Music, Martin morales founded Ceviche Soho and Andina, in Shoreditch. He has also launched Tiger’s Milk Records, a music company dedicated to discovering new and old artists from Peru as well as the Ceviche cookbook with Orion, and supports, a charity helping very poor children in Peru.

Once you taste Ceviches’ dishes prepared under the magic hands and photographer’s eyes of Head Chef Jorge Baumhauer you will be forever enchanted. And the wines. Oh. The wines! These are sublime organic wines, and have been paired up under the watchful eye of Jorge. You are in for a treat. Get your tickets here.  Buy the wines here.

“Tasting is intelligent drinking. It is paying attention. It is not hedonistic.”  Steven Spurrier


Alessandra Sollberger of Mosaic Ventures

Alessandra Sollberger of Mosaic Ventures

Date: 28th May 7 to 9PM

Location: The Collective, 14 Bedford Square, London

Alessandra Sollberger of Mosaic Ventures is our guest speaker in May.

Alessandra graduated from the University of Oxford, with a MSc in Finance, and worked in private equity at Blackstone, covering consumer brands and software, and M&A at Goldman Sachs.

Alessandra is the co-founder of Bright Mentors, a volunteering platform that partners with secondary schools around London and adapts its programme according to each child’s needs. To date, their classes have been delivered across various schools in the UK and around London.

Mentors work closely with teachers to make sure they complement their classes optimally, giving children a real perspective on what it’s like to work in technology. The goal is to motivate them to be ambitious about their goals and to help them discover what they could be doing in 10 years from now. Bright Mentors is a network as well – mentors can meet and network with each others, just like teachers do, through different events organised across the year.

Mentors are busy professionals in banking, tech, and VC/PE that find a spare hour a month to support the cause of Bright Mentors, to donate that extra hour a month towards improving the education and professional mindset of teenagers in subjects that can change their lives.

Note: We will taste wine in Riedel’s impeccable stemware.

“Tasting is intelligent drinking. It is paying attention. It is not hedonistic.”  Steven Spurrier

Tech Tastes Wine brings together tech entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts for tech talks and tastings.  Tech Tastes Wine founder, Mrs. Plentz, chooses wineries and importers of fine wines that have an interesting story to tell, so participants learn about wine production methods and wine history, as much as varietals.  “We see wine in a broader context: it is culture, history, geography. We go beyond organoleptic appreciation. We learn about wines and meet influential professionals, investors, and founders from the food, fashion, and wine industries.” says Mrs. Plentz.


Meet Julian Faulkner

Since I started Tech Tastes Wine in 2014 I met wine growers and producers who love working the land as much as they do introducing their wines to new markets. Julian Faulkner is one of them. He spends part of the year at the vineyard and part travelling the world selling his wines in the UK, US and the Asian market. He runs Le Grand Cros with his parents, the award-winning winery in the South of France. A born and bred entrepreneur he has also started his own label a few years back, sourcing the best wines and grapes in the region. His rose wines have won rave reviews from Jancis Robinson. We sat down for coffee at the Albion, in Shoreditch, and later met again to taste some of his beautiful wines. He has also developed a platform for producers and buyers worldwide, Trade Map. After a 360 of all his entrepreneurial activities I later sent him the interview questions via e-mail. He spoke candidly about what it takes to run a vineyard, produce, and distribute wines. This was a great way to discover the world of winemaking, and to get inside the mind of someone who cares deeply about well-crafted wines and someone who understands the consumer. Here is the interview.

Maya Plentz – What do you know now that you did not know before you began making wine?
Julian Faulkner – Nearly everything! I was 23 when I took over my family’s estate so I was clueless but with plenty of self-confidence which was a potentially dangerous combination. I was obviously aware of my lack of technical knowledge of wine and farming and I focused on learning and identifying the right people to advise us. On the business side it has been more of a process of learning from my mistakes. If there is one area where I thought I would be good and where I was surprised by the mistakes that I have made it is with people management. Entrepreneurs and investors always repeat the mantra about the team being the most important key to success and I think getting our team right and keeping it right as we grow has been my biggest and most important challenge. I didn’t realise at 23 just how important that would be.
MP – You have experience in the vineyard, in the business side, as well as the cellar. What part of the business do you like the most?
JF – I like different parts for different reasons and I wouldn’t want to focus solely on one part. Living on a vineyard can become quite lonely so going out and selling can be a good relief however being on the road non-stop is very draining. Intellectually, I enjoy the pre-harvest meeting when we plan what we are going to do and after the harvest when we blend the wines. In terms of the wine-making, those are the 2 critical strategic decision making times. Actually, I get most excited when looking towards the future when we identify something new and innovative that we can implement or test, regardless of whether it concerns the wine making, the marketing or internal admin.
MP – Meanings or stories behind the names of your wines?
Le Grand Cros is the historical name of the estate. Cros is local dialect which we are told means a protected area where a shepherd can take his sheep. There are lots of micro-climates in our area of Provence – in the 25 years that we have been there, we have seen neighbouring vineyards devastated by hail and we have barely been touched, or we could be driving from a to the vineyard through torrential rain and find it to be sunny just as we approach it. I know that could sound a bit unbelievable or an exaggeration but it is true!My other brand is called Jules which I joke is my narcissism out of control (my name is Julian but friends call me Jules). However i did an online poll in 2003 with all our customers to chose a name for a new label and that is the one that got the most votes.
MP –  What do you strive for when making your wines?
JF – Like most entrepreneurs, I want to be the best at what I do. But how do you measure that with wine? You have wine critic scores of course and I am more than happy to flaunt our scores – last year our rosé was rated the world’s best rosé of 2014 by Decanter magazine for example. However, no matter how professional and objective the judges are, taste is fundamentally subjective. The only thing you can fairly measure is how well a particular style is executed. So to answer your question, I first strive to identify a style that makes both commercial sense and technical sense i.e that will please our customers and that we can execute well given our “terroir” and other technical constraints. Second I try to execute that style better than anyone.
MP – What would you say is the common thread that ties your wines together?
JF – I have 2 brands and every wine that I produce has to fit with the values and story behind each brand. I plan to launch more brands in the future and the same will apply to them and I do private label (make the wine for other brands). There are more than 100k wine producers in the world, each with 1 or more brands so differentiating yourself from everyone else is incredibly challenging. Unless you are the oldest, smallest, biggest, highest altitude or something like that, your point of difference is going to be subtle and difficult to capture in an elevator pitch. I attempt to explain ours in our “about us” pages on our brand web sites: and
MP – Was there one wine you drank that compelled you to do things differently, a wine that served as an “aha” moment for you?
JF – I think I learn a little with most wines that I try. I can’t remember ever having an aha moment, it is more like putting a puzzle together where your perception of the wine space becomes more complete or increases in definition. I think I am naturally an anti-snob when it comes to wine so I would never admit that the first time I had an expensive rare fine wine that my mind was blown away. I am particularly aware of how the price and aura of greatness around these wines influences us and I am usually disappointed. I think the only valuable aha moments I have had is with my realisation that my tolerance for alcohol has decreased with age.
MP – You trained in the South of France, with your family. What are the most memorable moments of winemaking in the company of your parents?
JF – Probably doing the harvest with my friends while I was still a student before I took over the running of the vineyard from my mother. Hard work, lots of drinking in the evening, it was a lot of fun. In the first couple of years where I was essentially converting a hobby business into a real business, there were difficult moments due to lack of equipment, resources, knowledge or organisation and learning experiences that were memorable. The transition from student life to living alone in a big house in the middle of the country, coupled with a rat infestation my first winter – that was kind of memorable. Now that I split my time between London and the south of France, I am more aware of the beauty and peacefulness of the vineyard.

Tech Tastes Wine Partners

Tech Tastes Wine Partners

Tech Tastes Wine launched in the Fall of 2014, during London Fashion Week SS2015, and has grown in bounds and leaps with professionals from the three verticals  attending the events to network and hear founders share their experiences of taking ideas to market.

The goal of Tech Tastes Wine is to introduce tech entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts for collaboration and investments – and at the same time learn more about fine wines, the wine industry, and new technologies for the food, fashion, and wine sectors.

“With IoT and 3D printing changing the face of fashion manufacturing, there are bridges to build between the different sectors. The Apple Watch is just the beginning. We will need more interdisciplinary collaboration going forward in order to make wearables profitable and to create emotional connection with the products.  Fashion designers benefit from meeting software developers and likewise technologists learn about the importance of design when developing products.”,  says the founder of Tech Tastes Wine, Mrs. Maya Plentz.

Now Tech Tastes Wine has partnered with The Collective Elevator,  a beautifully appointed space next door to the British Museum, which caters to creatives and fashion start-ups, for their April 15th gathering.

The Collective Elevator supports tech entrepreneurs by providing innovative workspaces to start-ups and young businesses. In addition to  Bedford Square, The Collective Elevator has several developments in the pipeline: in Acton, Holland Park, and Willesden Junction, as they roll out across London their network of well-designed workspaces.

They have also launched The Collective Elevator Investment Fund, an early stage fund that invests and supports high potential businesses. The fund provides investors exposure to start-ups with above market returns, by using an internally developed method to measure potential growth and assess risk.

Arnie Sriskandarajah, MD of The Collective Elevator, has welcomed the initiative: “We are delighted to partner with Tech Tastes Wine for this exciting event, which provides a unique platform for investors and start-ups to meet in an informal setting. People bond over the wine tasting; the more people have in common the more likely they are to make stronger organic connections. Strong organic connections can then lead to long-term relationships.”

Mrs. Plentz chooses wineries and importers of fine wines that have an interesting story to tell so participants learn about wine production methods and wine history, as much as varietals. and meet the sharpest tech startup founders and investors.

Who made the cut so far?   “From the start we had investors, entrepreneurs, and software developers in the fashion e-commerce space.  We had the head of software development for Not Just a Label,  Luca Marini, COO and co-founder of, the Rocket Internet backed fashion startup, and Stefan Maurel, CEO of, the menswear online retailer, presenting at our events held at Google Campus London.   We tasted the best artisan wines produced in Italy, Hungary, and Portugal.  We introduced the gorgeous wines of London Cru, with Adam Green, general manager of the first London winery. ”

Tech Tastes Wine seeks to present startups that are already funded and/or profitable, although they have also presented start-ups that are at concept, pre-seed, stage.

What guides the choice of wines?   “We try to introduce wines from a different region every time. We see wine in a broader context: it is culture, history, geography.  Vineyards tell us about the impact of climate change too. We attempt to go beyond organoleptic appreciation at Tech Tastes Wine.”,  says Mrs. Plentz,  who manages press relations for startups in the enterprise software sector and was international affairs, business, and technology news editor and producer for the United Nations and Bloomberg TV. She covered the high-tech sector,  startups, VC/PE,  and the largest media and e-commerce IPOs in 1999/2000, in New York City.   She graduated from Columbia University, with a B.A in Political Science.  Her background in the arts informed her coursework, and she focused on Digital Media and Art History, with a strong interest in the history of wine, and how the industry has been depicted in painting.  She also studied Marketing Management at Columbia Business School.

Presenting at Tech Tastes Wine  on April 15th  will be Clotho London, a sustainable fashion e-commerce startup that is addressing the way young women sell & shop for beautiful second-hand items.  Their founders, Caroline Wood and Vivien Tang, are graduates from Imperial College London.  Since starting Clotho they have worked with Entrepreneur First, and are now working with TrueStart, a retail accelerator.  They will be joined by Diana K. Lee, a Mathematics student at UCL, their Head of Digital & Communications.  Clotho London is the winner of the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award 2015.

Tech Tastes Wine is sponsored by Riedel UK, and Martin Turner will speak about tradition and innovation in the stemware industry and how the centuries’ old Austrian manufacturer embraces both.

To buy tickets to the next TTW on Eventbrite: TechTastesWine May 12th 7PM