The battle is on. It’s time to pick a winner.
We met one-on-one with the top 6 to hear their pitch for the top spot.
Alyssa Farr, founder of TasteAdvisor, created a platform that delivers customer recommendation systems for the alcohol industry. We recently caught up with Alyssa to learn more about her inspiration behind the idea, her experience as an entrepreneur and her plans to go the distance.
What problem were you trying to solve when you started TasteAdvisor?
TasteAdvisor was born out of frustration in trying to find a wine that I liked in stores and at wineries around the region. It seemed like a complex problem that nobody really wanted to solve—who takes on taste? It’s so nuanced. But I really enjoy solving ecosystem problems and this was a big one. If I could do something to move the needle, for this one problem, I would be moving the industry and helping to support the Okanagan.
Why should people be excited about using TasteAdvisor?
We take the guesswork out of buying wine. We look at your personal preferences and match them to wines that fit those criteria. Our matches have accuracy greater than 80%. We wanted to take what a sommelier could do after $80,000 in training and turn it into an app. Now, you can be your own sommelier. What's the body on that wine? What’s the sweetness? What’re the flavours? It’s like dating for wine.
Tell us about the success you’ve found already
We launched the platform in August and saw a great uptake in users. Lots of people logging in, using the recommendations, rating the wines they tried and telling us how much they enjoyed them. That was really exciting for us—considering that, without TasteAdvisor, most of the time you’re flipping a coin when you’re buying wine. Now, you can buy a wine with more confidence knowing that you’re going to like it and not risk wasting money. Taste has been this impossible thing to understand and we just think it’s a little less mysterious than it is.
What kind of expertise is your team bringing to TasteAdvisor?
I’m a systems designer— business coach by trade. I enjoy building complex solutions and looking for patterns, that’s inherently what coaching is. That’s where my experience is, I love being able to use analytics to create clarity and simplicity. To help an industry that could benefit from that mentality, I partnered with a sensory researcher, an executive coach, and a brand manager. Everyone’s owned their own company before, and so we know how to make great solutions that protect the brand.
How do you see your company growing?
A year ago we had nothing. From there, we went from full product to full release, to in the market, to validation, to signing our first region—all within a year. With that one region under our belt, we’ve proven traction. Now, our goal is to get six new regions, which will make us financially stable. However, we don’t want to serve one market. We’ve already started growing our beer algorithm. Our bigger plans are to have this at liquor stores where all their stock has a percent match to it. Additionally, using data science, we’ll also be able to help retailers stock and sell more effectively.
What would the $155K investment mean for your company?
The OKGN Angel Summit investment would go entirely towards sales and driving traction. We know we can win clients and we’re excited to launch more regions and spread the solution to allow others to access it. We want to add machine learning to increase and maintain our competitive advantages by detecting changes in your pallet over time.
What has this experience taught you about the entrepreneurial journey?
I definitely recommend this for any founder, if they get the chance. Pushing yourself to get up there and pitch, pushing yourself to get exposure and feedback from other people has been really helpful in identifying how I can communicate TasteAdvisor in a clear and understandable way. If you can connect with an investor who doesn’t know your industry, your customer definitely will.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to participate next year?
I would advise them to come in with an open mind, be prepared to receive feedback, and do the work. Focus on building relationships with the partners in the room. You don’t know whether you’re going to win or not. Take the time to look for investing partners, advocates and people that want to journey with your business.