Interview with In House Tasting Co-Founders, Kirby Bryant and Lisa Pilgrim
Lots of micro business owners we speak to day in day out are motivated by doing something they love and doing it on their own terms. For founders of In House Tasting, Kirby Bryant and Lisa Pilgrim, their micro business is something I imagine quite a lot of us would love. They provide on demand bespoke wine, beer and spirit tasting sessions!
This innovative duo found their main business, which supplied wines to a lot of hospitality businesses, was desperately hit by Covid. But rather than sit back and wait for it all to be over, they took a traditionally offline concept and turned it virtual, creating a successful business in the midst of a global pandemic.
We caught up with them to find out how they’ve navigated covid and what motivated them to get started.
As far as covid proof businesses go, you'd expect In House Tasting, which provides virtual beer, wine and spirit tastings for online parties and similar, to be right up there. We spoke to one of the co-founders, Kirby Bryant, to find out all about it.
Over to you, Kirby.
In a nutshell, tell us what you do
We provide on-demand, virtual tastings for lovers and explorers of wines, beers, and spirits. Perfect for virtual parties, physical gifts and corporate events.
Who do you run the business with?
My co-founder, Lisa Pilgrim with whom I have been working for more than 15 years supplying wines, beers and spirits to the people and businesses of Royston, Hertfordshire.
And a team of amazing and enthusiastic people who have all really stepped up and made this business happen.
What makes you different to your competitors?
In House Tasting offers tastings that are ‘on demand’ via professionally recorded, expert-led videos.
They can be enjoyed at your own leisure or shared socially over Zoom.
This is different to other tastings that do not include a video guide, or are often live events, requiring you to be somewhere at a specific time and place.
Our tastings are perfect to enjoy alone, physically with a friend or online via a virtual party or social gathering over Zoom.
What inspired you to start a business like In House Tasting?
We operate a local, traditional independent wine merchant that supplies to public and trade (hospitality) in Royston, Hertfordshire.
When COVID-19 hit, we lost all our trade business and started selling online, also moving our tastings online.
We hosted a virtual gin tasting for a local charity and took some of our other tastings online.
That was when the idea for In House Tasting was born.
2020! What a year! How have you navigated covid?
The learning curve has been steep as our traditional local business (Cambridge Wine Royston) did not have an e-commerce system pre-lockdown.
Losing 100% of our hospitality trade overnight was difficult, but going online opened new opportunities to reach the public and from that, our new company was born; In House Tasting.
We are a business born out of lockdown, however have further adapted over recent months to support employers and virtual staff Christmas parties over Zoom.
We’re actually seeing more demand for this from the general public as social entertainment due to the recent ‘Christmas bubble’ restrictions that have been announced.
What do you love the most about running this business?
There is a buzz about creating something new or giving someone a new experience. It also enables you to support other businesses and charities.
We are keen to promote small, craft producers and have a key focus on encouraging our customers to support their local, independent retailers, wherever they may be in the UK.
Beyond what we sell, being able to support people and other businesses in the current climate has formed an important part of our company ethos.
And what are the biggest challenges?
Too many ideas and not enough time!
Can you share one piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
No matter what business you do, there are going to be challenges and it’s going to be a lot of hard work, so make it something you truly love and believe in.
Find out more about In House Tasting
If you’d like to find out more about what In House Tasting do, here are the links!
Anyway. excuse me… I’m off to book a gin tasting.