A wine lover turned her daily frustrations into a million-dollar business, here’s how

Abu Mubarik May 13, 2022
Image courtesy of The Sip

Erica Davis is the co-founder of The Sip, an Oakland, CA-based wine tasting subscription service. She co-founded the company after spending girls’ nights with her sorority sister Catherine Carter.

The two friends loved to chat over wine and have fun with champagne but over time, the wine lovers grew frustrated they didn’t have a reliable way to sample bubbly before buying a whole bottle, according to Inc.Africa.

They then got the idea to start a subscription service that allows customers — mostly women — to try small bottles of wine before deciding on a full-size bottle. The duo from Oakland spent more than a year developing and researching their idea. To test the viability of their business, they sampled some 400 people, a majority of this figure were in the parking lots at the Napa vineyards. Satisfied with the outcome of their survey, they launched The Sip in January 2020.

According to Davis, the company saw its revenue increase from $400,000 in 2020 to $1.4 million in 2021. What’s more, The Sip has filled 20,000 orders from subscribers, one-time buyers and corporate gifting programs. It has also raised an undisclosed amount from Base Ventures’ Kirby Harris and Erik Moore, according to Inc.Africa.

Bottles from Black-and-women-owned brands like Wachira Wines are among The Sip’s curated boxes alongside legacy houses, such as Moët & Chandon, Davis said. There is also a tasting guide and a credit towards a regular-size bottle.

Being a business owner is not really surprising for Davis as she comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her mother owns a catering business while her grandmother owned a laundromat and several homes.

“Being an entrepreneur was always in my career path. It was just about me getting the building blocks that I knew I needed in order to start a successful business. Everything I’ve done was strategic to get me to where I am right now,” said 37-year-old Davis.

She started her wine business after graduating from the University of San Francisco, with a business degree. Afterward, she was accepted into Gap’s nine-month Rotational Management Program and that was where she honed her analytical skills and had the opportunity to understand the inner workings of a global business and how to manage millions of dollars, she said.

Before The Sip, Davis worked for Darby Smart as a merchandising director, where she learned all about subscription services. Carter, on the other hand, is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara with work experience in hospitality and property management.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 13, 2022


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