Keurig coffeemakers and Sodastream carbonation machines have made it easier to brew a cup of joe or fizz up a bottle of lemon-flavored seltzer. A Boston startup called Kuvée wants to bring similar convenience to pouring — and preserving — a bottle of wine.
Kuvée is designing an Internet-connected wine bottle that would hold different canisters of wine. It will be able to dispense one glass at a time, while preventing the rest of the wine in the canister from being exposed to air, which causes them to go bad. A “smart label” on the outside of the bottle will show you what brand and vintage of wine is inside it and tell you a bit about the wine. If you enjoy it, you can click a button to order more canisters, which are delivered to your home.
Kuvée CEO and co-founder Vijay Manwani isn’t yet ready to talk about the company, but he has already raised an initial round of funding from investors including venture firm Founder Collective, hardware incubator Bolt, and serial entrepreneurs Will Herman and Andy Palmer. Kuvée’s other founders are Geoffrey Lansberry, previously an engineer at Bedford-based iRobot, and Mike Tomovich, who earned his master’s degree from MIT last year. The company has also hired veterans of Nantucket Nectars, Sample6 Technologies, and Harvest Automation, a maker of agricultural robots, along with at least one exec with experience in the wine industry.
One person who is familiar with what Kuvée is up to is Brad Rosen, founder of the wine startup Drync. “Like any disruptive technology, it’s going to take a heroic effort to win over producers and get them to stick these new ‘bottles’ on their production lines,” Rosen says via e-mail. “But Vijay is amazing and a force of nature and if anyone can do this, he can. Also, he knows more about wine than nearly anyone I’ve met.” Rosen describes Kuvée’s product as “a convenience play — drink what you want, it stays fresh, and reorder easily.”
Robert Dwyer runs the wine blog Wellesley Wine Press. He looked at a description of Kuvée on the site AngelList, but hasn’t yet seen the product itself. “I’ve seen a lot of wine preservation systems over the years,” he says. “After tinkering with them, my favorite is the $1.49 stopper you can buy at places like Crate & Barrel.”
In job postings, Kuvée says that it has “set its sights on transforming the way consumers explore, purchase, and enjoy wine in the same way Keurig reshaped the landscape of home brewed coffee.” No word yet on how much it will cost, but the company’s website says Kuvée is planning to launch its product this fall.
I wrote about Manwani’s previous startup, which made a mobile app called Wikets, in 2014. Manwani was also CTO and co-founder of BladeLogic, which made software for data centers and was acquired for $800 million in 2008.
Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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