Wine Review Site Snooth Raises Cash And A Following

Raise a glass to Snooth, a social wine review site that is gaining some traction and recently closed another angel round of financing of about $1 million. Angel investors included Joe Meyer, Kevin Fortuna (both from Quigo) and Ted Jansen (former SVP at Expedia), who are now on the company’s advisory board. The New York City-based startup last raised an angel round a year ago for the same amount. Snooth lets you rate, review and talk about wines. On Snooth, anyone can be Robert Parker. And you see what all your friends are reviewing and rating in your own feed. There is also an iPhone-optimized site, and a full-fledged app is in the works.

Snooth offers data to wineries and wine merchants, giving them an idea of where people who are interested in their wines are located, and makes money from lead generation (when a member clicks through to buy a bottle). The site has signed up 11,000 wine merchants worldwide so far.

In a letter to its shareholders, a copy of which TechCrunch has obtained, CEO Philip James gives an update of the business:

We’ve seen exceptional growth over the last 6 months, and our traffic is now over 600,000 users per month, representing a 400% increase over that time period. In December we generated $1 million in gross revenues for our merchant partners.

Snooth is now the largest interactive wine site on the web (in terms of traffic), and we expect to be the largest wine site on the web by Q3 2009.

We are already the largest wine site by number of wines tracked (1.1M), wine reviews (2.1M), registered users (75,000) and we are gaining on the other companies rapidly in this last metric.

Thanks to the recent capital raise, and with our net burn rate of $60,000 we have a runway of over 18 months, assuming 0 revenue. This is a very conservative estimate as Snooth has been making revenue (primarily from lead generation) for the last few months.

The letter also notes that Snooth provides the wine results for Wikia Search, and ends with goals for 2009. James wants the site to grow to one million visitors per month, 250,000 registered users, and be at a $50 million run rate in generating sales for wine merchants. Snooth’s own revenue is only a small fraction of those sales, typically 10 percent. Assuming it does reach its goal of driving $50 million in sales to affiliated merchants this year, that could result in as much as $5 million in revenues for itself.

If Snooth can keep growing, though, it could become a nice little business. In comparison to the 600,000 uniques James mentions in his letter, Quantcast shows Snooth at 450,000, but with a similar growth curve. Google Trends shows that it has already surpassed Corkd (see chart below), Gary Vaynerchuck’s competing wine review site, which he has admittedly allowed to languish. Snooth is even catching up to in terms of traffic. (Note that is a wine shopping site, not a review site, although it does have ratings as well. That something called Snooth could be attracting as many visitors a month as a gold-standard domain like is impressive in its own right).