Bright Cellars: Simplifying Wine Through Algorithms

The Problem / Opportunity

Entering the world of wine can be very daunting, there are seemingly endless varietals/regions and even more vineyards to explore. For someone with little exposure to wine who is looking to learn more about the topic some of the only ways to find out what types you like is the guess-and-check method. For many people, this is extremely frustrating and can be a large waste of money.

Many subscription services offer to filter through the landscape by sending 6 or 12 bottles a month to a person. Unfortunately, this method offers little to no customization to a person’s taste or preferences as the services generally send the same bottles to all their members. Currently, there are few services that offer a quick, affordable, and curated solution for people to experience wines based on their taste preferences.


The Solution



The subscription-based service, Bright Cellars looks to take out what most people find to be the boring hard part about drinking wine – picking out one that they will like! Users go to the Bright Cellars website and take a quiz that gives the company insights into your personal preferences. From there, “the algorithm scores each wine by comparing 18 attributes to your preferences” and you receive a box of wine that the algorithm has picked out for you.


Once a user has received and tasted their wine, they can rate the matches that the Bright Cellars algorithm has provided them. This iterative process allows the algorithm to better learn a user’s preferences the more a person enters ratings and uses the service. As the database of ratings keeps growing the algorithm can draw associations from what other people have liked, the creators view the service as a subscription service and Pandora-like matching service mixed into one. Bright Cellars is targeting the millennial market who have not yet committed to drinking a specific type of wine yet, don’t know what they like, or are looking to experiment with uncommon varietals.


Market & Comparable Solutions


Obviously, the wine market is very mature as is the idea of a subscription wine service with many different options available to consumers. Some of the companies that are getting similar press and attention as Bright Cellars are Club W and Pour This.


Club W started off with a very similar model as Bright Cellars, people would take a quiz and they would source and select bottles based on the quiz results. Most recently they have acquired their own winery and have rebranded to Winc. Now members are paired with wines that are made in house or that come from small partner vineyards. They still have a profiling quiz and rating algorithm that tries to continually better understand their members’ taste preferences. This is the closest competitor to Bright Cellars, but as they have their own in-house wine, the algorithm and cost structure is significantly different.


Pour This, on the other hand, acts more in the capacity of a traditional wine subscription service but proclaims that it is more curated than its predecessors. Pour This sends its members the same lot of three wines, but they are all hand picked by their in-house curator and tend to be very obscure. They are looking to capture the market of people who want to explore new and different wines that they might never have come across or experimented with in their wine consumption.


Proposed Alterations


Bright Cellars could make their offering even more customizable by allowing people take quizzes based on their wine experience or knowledge. Someone who knows exactly what they like but is looking to be exposed to more uncommon brands might want to be able to specify that initially. Currently, their model only really caters to those who are beginners in wine and can only identify flavors they prefer rather than wine producing regions or countries.


Additionally, Bright Cellars with $150,000 could hire another full-time employee to make improvements to the algorithm while the founders work on business development. This is especially true as they grow the business and look to work directly with wineries.  




Unbabel: Removing Language Barriers at Scale

The Problem / Opportunity

The world has become increasingly more connected through the rise of the Internet, yet there still remains the problem of effective communication given the number of languages that exist. While services like Google Translate can help people get by in everyday life, albeit poorly translated, and DuoLingo helps consumers learn and practice new languages, translation services in the business world remain difficult. As organizations become ever more globally focused, communicating both internally and with customers remains a problem. While English was the most dominant language of the Internet in the late 90s, the democratization of the Internet has led English to only represent 30% of all content. There is a need for businesses to be multilingual, yet it is extremely expensive and difficult to hire personnel that can provide these translation services.


The Solution

Unbabel uses a combination of Natural Language Processing, algorithms, and a network of 40,000+ human post-editors to enable quality translations. By integrating with services like Salesforce and Zendesk to start, Unbabel is already integrating in workflows that companies know and love. Like we have discussed in class, the real winning piece of this solution is the combination of artificial and human intelligence, as Unbabel’s technology gets smarter as its human editors correct it. The algorithm needs training to continually improve and learn the idiosyncrasies of the myriad of human languages that exist. As of now, the technology handles about 95% of the translation, while the human translators help bring the translations to a more accurate level. Having this combination allows Unbabel to offer services faster and cheaper to companies than they could receive using Google Translate and an in-house expert, not to mention a much larger content library of languages.


Market & Comparable Solutions

Google Translate has made recent breakthroughs in translation services with its Neural Machine Translation, which translates whole sentences rather than performing it piece by piece, ultimately leading to a more relevant translation as the system can use context to figure out the translation. Google Translate was able to make more strides in recent months than it had in the past 10 years, proving that this is becoming a viable competitor for Unbabel. Yet Google’s focus has largely been consumer-focused for these applications, and since the company usually has its hand in a variety of fields, we do not see it entering business translation services at this immediate time.

Skype has created Skype Translator to help translations occur in real time during video calls. Given how ubiquitous the company is, this is an obvious step for them. However, the company currently only offers voice in 8 languages, and text in 50 for messaging. Skype is also focused not on the business segment yet, and will unlikely abandon the video focus, as that is the company’s bread and butter.


Proposed Alterations

While the company is focused largely on text, given its integrations with ZenDesk and Salesforce to start, it would do well to also consider voice services, as customer success agents and salespeople alike spend most of their time on the phone. Alternatively, the company can decide to go niche on more business functions that will need to take advantage of these services or go after verticals that are largely global in focus. The company needs to think of ways to create a moat of defensibility so that large enterprises like Google and Skype do not shift gears to offer business translation services, especially since both companies are heavily invested in artificial intelligence.


Team Members

Marjorie Chelius

Cristina Costa

Emma Nagel

Sean Neil

Jay Sathe


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