Diana Isac, the founder of Winerist, a travel company dedicated to allowing clients to truly explore wine regions across the globe when they're on hol
We came up with the idea...The idea for Winerist was actually born on a trip with my best friends with whom I travel to this day to wine destinations. Our journey started in Paris and continued in Champagne, Burgundy, Provence, Tuscany and Piedmont on the way back. We did the two-week trip in a self-drive minibus, following The Wine Atlas by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. We struggled when it came to researching the trip. We could not find small, quaint hotels where bread is baked over night. We could not locate wineries that would be open to visitors and that were run by families. And we could not book restaurants as there was almost no information on their working hours or a contact number. We relied on several occasions on advice from locals and tourists, and the latter backfired on a couple of occasions. Once back in London, I wanted to give wine lovers and travellers to gourmet destinations a different experience, enabling them to find the hotel, the winery, the restaurant, the cooking class –all in one place.
The biggest challenge...Our biggest challenge to this day is identifying experiences, looking for the best winery and the most unique stays. Our business model is not about quantity, but about quality and the ability to tell the story of the people we work with. Behind every wine hotel, there is a family that lives and breathes the passion of the region. Behind every cooking class, there is a trail of recipes that have been touched by generations. Finding people who build these kinds of experiences is what we take most pride in.
The average day is spent…I wake up at 6.30 am and it's my favourite time of the day as I get to spend the morning with my son. We do breakfast together, read, prepare for school and tend to just be silly together. I leave the house by 8.30 am and get to the office by 9.30 am unless I am travelling or have meetings. Days are varied, but I do spend my mornings on team meetings and emails. Lunch is a stroll with my colleagues along the Thames. We are located right by Tower Bridge, on the Southbank. Our lunch route takes in one of the most historic, vibrant and exciting parts of London. Having our office in a place this dynamic, makes us feel part of something even more special. Afternoons usually involve calls, business meetings and sales. I love to do sales and have committed to always have the client interaction as I find it keeps me grounded and gives me an understanding of where we are as a business and how we can improve. I leave the office by 6.30 pm most days so I can get my son to bed. My husband is also an entrepreneur, so dinner conversations tend to be about work and we ask each other for advice all the time, We have been together for 10 years and have gotten very good at reading the signs and knowing when to give the other some space. If we are home early, we work out together and get into bed with a book. I am reading Hannah Fry's How to be human in the Age of Machine. I am asleep by midnight, but am working towards getting to bed early!
The team consists of...Extremely fun, well-travelled, hard-working individuals, with a lot of interest in disrupting the industry. We have four sales and partnerships staff, two content and digital marketing people, four people working on technology, and a couple of interns at all times, as well as a few freelancers helping on projects. The team is such a lovely, smart and friendly bunch. I am very lucky to be working with these individuals.
My favourite quote is…‘Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation’ – Dean Kamen
I am where I am today because of…I attribute it all to hard work and resilience. You have to have endless reserves of drive and the ability to lift yourself up after every single challenge.
I am who I am because of…My family. I owe my entrepreneurial spirit to my mother and father and my strength to go on to my husband and son.
The best advice I’ve been given...It is never as good or as bad as you think it is.
In five years I’d like to be…Changing the world of wine travel with the help of our dynamic, hardworking and devoted team.
The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online…Technology only goes so far. Human interactions and the ability to build relationships and stay true to yourself and to the people who work for you and who are your customers is the thing that matters the most in the end.
The websites I most frequently use are...Winerist, of course, but also The Guardian, Skift and Hubspot.
What is your biggest mistake and what has it taught you?To not listen to my instinct. When it comes to businesses, I have learned it is best to go with your gut. Especially when it comes to building relationships and investing in individuals.
What apps do you use to be more productive?Slack, Telegram, Airtable, and Zeplin.
By Nancy Alsop