Stepping up to the plate: Jonny Keeling

Posted: 15 February 2024 | | No comments yet

In this series, we speak to dynamic voices in the food industry, showcasing individuals who are embracing new responsibilities.

Stepping Up To The Plate

The alcohol sector is evolving. Recent studies have shown that consumers are now looking for a variety of alcoholic beverage options and it is the industry’s responsibility to respond with innovative and varied beverage offerings.

Within this landscape, the wine sector plays a pivotal role in shaping the overall food and beverage industry. As consumers become more discerning, the demand for fine wine investment is on the rise.

In this instalment of “Stepping up to the plate”, New Food speaks to Jonny Keeling, recently appointed as the Chief Growth Officer at Winefi, who sheds light on the market’s challenges and the innovative solutions Winefi is bringing to the sector.

Who are you and what is your new role?

Jonny Keeling (JK): My name is Jonny Keeling, and I bring with me 13 years of startup operator experience. Prior to joining Winefi, I served as the Chief Growth Officer at Crowdcube, Europe’s largest private investment platform. In my new role as CCO at Winefi, I am tasked with spearheading our go-to-market strategy and forging new partner relationships to bolster Winefi’s Assets Under Management (AUM).

What is your previous experience in the sector and how has this made you the perfect fit for the role?

JK: At Crowdcube, we faced scepticism from traditional investors and venture capitalists. However, over eight years, we collaborated with esteemed investors like Goldman Sachs and Google Ventures, helping to nurture brands such as Monzo and Brewdog. This experience, challenging the status quo in a traditional industry, aligns perfectly with the transformative cycle I see in the wine investment ecosystem.

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My fresh perspective on the industry is precisely what sets me apart. We aim to revolutionise the traditional market by merging fintech and fine wine investment, making it accessible and lucrative.

Tell us about WineFi, why is it needed in the current alcohol landscape?

JK: The barriers to fine wine investment are formidable. With no reliable brand in the market, accessing wine as an asset class is daunting. Winefi aims to change this narrative by providing a trustworthy platform for investors to explore wine investment opportunities.

You mentioned “WineFi is perfectly poised to introduce a meaningful new audience to the asset class” – how so? Why should it be something exciting for the sector to take note of?

JK: Fine wine investment offers attractive returns, low volatility, and unique tax advantages. It stands apart from traditional asset classes, making it an enticing prospect for investors seeking diversification.

Why are you passionate about the fine wine industry?

JK: While I enjoy fine wine, my passion lies in building category-defining brands. Winefi presents an exciting opportunity in this regard.

With the cost-of-living crisis and high inflation rates impacting the food and beverage sector, why should they be investing in fine wine in the current economic landscape?

JK: Winefi primarily targets sophisticated investors considering wine as part of a diversified portfolio strategy, offering resilience amid economic uncertainties.

If you could give one piece of advice for graduates at university considering dipping their toe in the food and beverage sector what would it be?

JK: Embrace opportunities in startups; the hands-on experience is invaluable. Brands like Surreal and Lucky Saint exemplify the potential for success through a brand-led, customer-centric approach in the competitive F&B market.

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