Lot18

Snooth Founder Launches Private Sales Site For Fine Wine, Raises $3 Million

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Exclusive – Discerned wine buyers, heads up. Philip James, who founded major wine site Snooth.com, has teamed up with entrepreneur Kevin Fortuna to launch an online private sales club that enables members to purchase fine wines straight from their producers. Dubbed Lot18, the fledgling company has just landed a $3 million Series A round of funding led by NYC-based VC firm FirstMark Capital.

The round also included returning (unnamed) investors and angels from companies such as Quigo, Time Inc., AOL, Ziff Davis, Bankrate and Experian, and follows a $500,000 seed round closed earlier this year.

Update: from the comments:

Dear TechCrunchers:

Please visit http://www.lot18.com/invite/techcrunch for an exclusive invite to Lot18 (only 500 available!)

Andrew Nguyen
Operations Manager
Lot18.com

Obviously modeled after success stories Vente-Privée.com and Gilt Groupe, the goal is provide Lot18 members with access to high-quality wines, made available in small quantities and limited runs.

From the press release:

Producers struggle to generate consumer recognition and many lack the pricing or negotiating power to ensure good representation at the retail level. Though most wineries have websites that allow them to sell online, it is often difficult to engage new customers who have not heard of, or tasted their wines.

Following personal sourcing of each product by Lot18’s procurement team, Lot18 curates, reviews and presents the offer, with the sale and shipping managed by the winery. This allows producers to engage new markets via insider sales that showcase the winery to enthusiast members across the country.

Lot18’s partners at launch include, evidently, Snooth.com and wineries such as Cornerstone Winery, Boisset Family Estates, and Foley Family Estates.

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