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How This Wine Lover Turned Her Daily Frustrations Into A Million Dollar Business

Erica Davis is the co-founder of The Sip, an Oakland, CA-based wine tasting subscription service. She started the company after spending girls’ nights with her sister Catherine Carter.

The two ladies loved to chat over wine and have fun with champagne but over time, the wine lovers grew frustrated they didn’t have a reliable way to sample bubbly before buying a whole bottle.

They got an idea to start a subscription service that allows customers, mostly women to try small bottles of wine before deciding on a full-size bottle.

They spent more than a year researching their idea and also to test the feasibility of their business, they sampled some 400 people, a majority of this figure were in the parking lots at the Napa vineyards. They were satisfied with the result of their survey, then they launched The Sip in January 2020.

According to Davis, the company saw its revenue increase from $400,000 in 2020 to $1.4 million in 2021.The Sip has filled 20,000 orders from subscribers, one-time buyers and corporate gifting programs. It has also raised an undisclosed amount from Base Ventures’ Kirby Harris and Erik Moore.

Black-and-women-owned brands like Wachira Wines are among The Sip’s curated boxes alongside legacy houses, such as Moët & Chandon, Davis said. There is also a tasting guide and a credit towards a regular-size bottle.

Being a business owner is not really surprising for Davis as she comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her mother owns a catering business while her grandmother owned a laundromat and several homes.

“Being an entrepreneur was always in my career path. It was just about me getting the building blocks that I knew I needed in order to start a successful business. Everything I’ve done was strategic to get me to where I am right now,” said 37-year-old Davis.

She started her wine business after graduating from the University of San Francisco, with a business degree. Afterward, she was accepted into Gap’s nine-month Rotational Management Program and that was where she honed her analytical skills and had the opportunity to understand the inner workings of a global business and how to manage millions of dollars, she said.

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