Obituary of a startup: Realtime Wine, courageous social app, bows out


Realtime Wine (RTW), a social discovery app for wine, died last night from complications after failing to monetise quickly in an aggressive startup ecosystem. It was three years old. Plain-spoken and unassuming, RTW never assumed the part of a wine guide. In what can only be described as a courageous piece of moxie, RTW sought to get rid of highbrow reviews and instead provide wine consumers with honest opinions.

RTW’s quasi-warrior persona attracted the attention of investors such as former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan, owner of Bartinney Wines, and Mike Ratcliffe, managing director at Warwick Wine Estate. They were two cosmic soulmates for a project that encouraged sharing tastes in wine. Jordaan and Ratcliffe brought with them their clout as winery owners. In the end though, RTW’s protracted search for ways to monetise lead to its demise.

The social app’s zeal and fight is to be admired. RTW began with a noble mission, claiming to be South Africa’s first social discovery wine app with its no-bullshit 140-character social wine review site. When faced with certain defeat, the courageous social app desperately clung to its community of 4 407 Wine fans and 116 Superfans. When asked about RTW’s loss, Andy Hadfield said it was a “helluva ride”.

With more than 13 000 reviews, 12 058 wines on its system and over 31 000 ratings, RTW’s life is deemed a success.

In a touching letter to the users of the platform, Hadfield admits to not monetising the platform quickly enough. He also talks about the market size:

“In the South African landscape, socially active wine (and beer) drinkers with smartphones who wanted to change their buying and discovery habits… just wasn’t a big enough market.”

But the story doesn’t end there for RTW fans or Hadfield. The entrepreneur will be taking the community on to another venture.

In partnership with one of the platform’s users, Hadfield hopes to use “the social community built up over the last 2 years to launch a brand new venture”.

The new venture is wine review and news site called INCOGVINO.

According to Hadfield, the site “will offer a platform for wine writing, news, reviews, events and the odd competition or two. It’s also the place where the Superfan Club (and our infamous Twitter Tastings) will continue! We’ll still have a place that is firmly focused on experiencing all the wonderful things this wine country has to offer. A place where my (and our) passion for wine can live on.”



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