We’ll drink to that! The friends who turned lockdown drinking into a business – and used MailOnline to double their website traffic
It’s a scenario most parents will recognise: relaxing with a nice glass of wine after homeschooling the kids during lockdown.
But for best friends Martin Stead and Toby Radcliffe, both from London, it sparked a business idea they were passionate about – selling sustainable wines from independent vineyards.
The entrepreneurs, who met when they were 18, had been looking for a way to work together, and soft-launched the Collectivino delivery service, which has net zero carbon impact, in July this year.
Martin Stead, left, and Toby Radcliffe discussed the idea while chatting over Zoom drinks
Martin, 44, said: ‘One day in 2020 while enjoying a glass of red together over a lockdown Zoom call, Toby and I realised there were two issues for wine enthusiasts like us.
‘It often seemed like potluck as to whether we’d choose an outstanding, average or downright disappointing wine, and it was way too difficult to work out and minimise the environmental impact of the wines we were choosing.
‘So, we decided to do something about it, and created Collectivino to provide wine lovers with exceptional quality wines that are produced and distributed responsibly, at an accessible price.’
Father-of-two Toby, 43, added: ‘I’ll joke, but I was homeschooling, drinking a lot of wine, it was a great idea!’
The pair set about putting a business model in place, and initially looked at selling UK wines, but changed tack after realising they could stock varieties from around the world, including Europe and New Zealand, and still stick to their core values.
Toby said: ‘We wanted to bring wines to our website which are difficult to get or aren’t currently available in the UK.
Martin and Toby advertised on MailOnline and liked the fact they could do it themselves
‘And if you look at it from a carbon point of view, the transport isn’t the major impact on the footprint, and we more than double offset it, so it’s under 10% of the overall footprint. It’s much more important it’s organic, or sustainable, using low intervention techniques.
‘We interview all our suppliers to make sure they’re doing what we’re expecting them to do to make sure they’re in line with the types of things we’re looking for.’
The company uses zero carbon delivery methods, such as bicycle couriers in Central London, and carbon neutral deliveries nationally.
They also calculate the carbon impact of the wines – from grape to glass – and off-set any residual CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) impact using VCS Gold Standard reforestation schemes, so every bottle they deliver is climate positive.
Toby added: ‘We curate really amazing wine. Every bottle we list has a wow factor, and everything on our site is sustainable as a minimum, and a lot of them are also organic or biodynamic or regenerative, so you can enjoy good wine and know it’s coming from the right place.
‘And as part of our ethos, we positively offset everything so there’s no carbon associated with any of it.’
After their soft launch, Toby and Martin were ready to take their marketing strategy to the next level – and have been one of the first businesses to try MailOnline’s Ad Manager advertising platform.
Ad Manager allows entrepreneurs to target as many of MailOnline’s incredible 25 million readers as they like, targeting potential customers by postcode, interests or life stage.
Ad impressions (how many times the ads were viewed): 731,361 in a week
Doubled website traffic every day
Clicks to website: 916
‘It cuts out the middleman, which is cost efficient for a start-up’
And it comes without a hefty price tag.
What’s more, business owners can easily create their own campaign, set the budget and the target audience – and it can be live in less than 24 hours.
Toby said: ‘As a small business, the Ad Manager platform is brilliant. It cuts out the middleman – you don’t have to have a huge budget and go through media agencies.
‘Having that direct access to a platform to be able to plan our media based on our needs is just super efficient for startups but also ultimately helps us reduce costs, because we’re not having to pay lots of other people to do it for us.
‘In terms of the platform itself, we were able to generate our own artwork, and then build our own campaign and it was really, really easy.’
In just a week, through their Ad Manager campaign, the co-founders saw a huge 916 click throughs to their website – as well as more than 700,000 ad impressions.
Toby said: ‘The campaign was great for brand awareness.
‘It reached more than 700,000 impressions, and, as these were mainly through headline banners, they would have been widely seen.
‘Over the week of the campaign we saw double our usual website traffic each day, so we were really pleased with the additional engagement, all from new prospects.
‘As a start-up, getting in front of target prospects is a key challenge, which the platform really helped us achieve.’
As a business owner, you can set up a new Ad Manager campaign in just minutes with the simple-to-use system – and it allows you to advertise to more people in your area than your local titles can reach.
There are no hidden fees, and you can control everything, from budget to target audience to creative design.
Here’s how you can advertise YOUR small business on MailOnline:
Behind The Business
Martin Stead and Toby Radcliffe have been best friends since they met at Cambridge University aged 18 – and they always knew they’d go into business together.
The entrepreneurs had plenty in common, including enjoying drinking great wine together, which was ultimately what sparked their idea for Collectivino.
Martin, 44, who was best man at Toby’s wedding, spent seven years in the energy sector promoting low-carbon sources, before becoming CEO of Nutmeg Savings.
Toby, 43, is a former professional Iron Man, and has a varied business background from commodities trading to sustainability auditing and consulting.
Toby said: ‘We were both a bit jaded about corporate life. So we’d been talking about working for ourselves for a while, and looking for a business idea that might work.
‘The key principle was that it had to be sustainable and drive social and environmental value.
‘Wine came from the fact we’re both wine enthusiasts, and we want to unpick some of the complexities surrounding organic and sustainable wines, what’s true, what’s not true – how do you find good wines.
‘We want to help people make choices around their lifestyle.’
During lockdown, Martin was on a Zoom call with another of their friends who mooted the idea of buying a vineyard.
Martin said: ‘That was the thought starter for what would be an interesting thing to do with wine.
The friends now enjoy visiting vineyards and finding delicious wines to bring back to the UK
‘Then on the second or third lockdown, I was on a call with Toby, we were both drinking wine and I told him the idea, he thought it was great and said he’d been wanting to do something in regenerative agriculture.
‘Our friend then stepped away, and Toby and I decided the thing that would make most sense due to the level of capital investment required would actually be to prove there’s a demand for sustainable wine and grow that demand in the UK, which took us down more of the retail path.
‘We really enjoy it. We get to meet really interesting people who have a real passion and belief in what they’re doing, and it’s just so inspirational to go and hear their stories.
‘So in time, we absolutely would hope to have our own vineyards and produce our own fabulous sustainable wines.’
Toby added: ‘Martin was best man at my wedding a decade ago, and he’s now the best man to be partnered with on Collectivino.
‘I particularly enjoy spending time together with our wine club customers trying out new wines we’ve brought back from our travels – it always makes for a fun evening meeting some great people.’
He added: ‘Creating Collectivino with Toby has been just brilliant. We get to travel around vineyards together meeting amazing sustainable farmers and trying their delicious wines, we have a laugh and support each other through the highs and lows of start-up life, and we get to call all of this work.’
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