Rolling out the Netflix business model

Cara Waters
Tom Walenkamp and Banjo Harris were inspired by Netflix.
Tom Walenkamp and Banjo Harris were inspired by Netflix.  Photo: Supplied

Watching Netflix with a glass of wine in hand is the perfect way to unwind.

But for Tom Walenkamp and former Attica sommelier, Banjo Harris Plane, the combination has led to a $1 million business.  

The Wine Gallery

The pair describe their start-up, The Wine Gallery, as "the Netflix of wine" and claim to offer Australia's first fully personalised wine subscription service.  

Tom Walenkamp (left) and Banjo Harris  are backing subscriptions backed by data.
Tom Walenkamp (left) and Banjo Harris are backing subscriptions backed by data.  Photo: Wade Van Den Hoek

Walenkamp and Harris initially launched the start-up as a subscription business boot strapped with about $70,000 of "life savings" but pivoted to focus on personalised technology in November last year.

The original incarnation of the business used flavour and taste matching and Walenkamp says "people loved the concept" but the "pain point" was having to click through a lot of matching criteria.

In response the pair built what Walenkamp says is "one of the most advanced technology recommendation engines in the wine space in the world".

As we were sitting watching Netflix and listening to Spotify we realised their recommendation system was very similar to our own.

Tom Walenkamp

It involves an initial wine palate quiz and then uses customer ratings and feedback to select wines tailored to customers tastes.

"The difference between getting customers was night and day," Walenkamp says. 

The Wine Gallery now has 10,000 subscribers, 2000 of whom are paid up and is "on track" to turnover $1 million this year. 


"As we were sitting watching Netflix and listening to Spotify we realised their recommendation system was very similar to our own," Walenkamp says. "We intelligently tag bottles according to tannins and flavour and Netflix tags movie as comedy or action or as starring Arnold Schwarzenegger to provide you with recommendations."  


The arrival of Netflix and other streaming services in Australia has changed the way we consume television but it's also offered up a new business model.  

Subscription service GiggedIn bills itself as "the Netflix of gigs" charging a flat fee of $35 a month to give subscribers access to up to 20 live shows a week including music, comedy and outdoor cinema.

GiggedIn aims to benefit punters and event organisers.
GiggedIn aims to benefit punters and event organisers.  Photo: Supplied

Founder​ Edwin Onggo says GiggedIn benefits punters, musicians, organisers and venues by providing a cheaper way to access live events while filling venues, "the vast majority of which don't sell out".

"We create awesome experiences for our members," he says. "They get to go to music events, comedy and outdoor cinemas. Instead of streaming it on TV they get to go and experience it."

Onggo says the "subscription economy" is evolving into all forms of entertainment.

Edwin Onggo, founder of GiggedIn, bills the start-up as "the Netflix of gigs".
Edwin Onggo, founder of GiggedIn, bills the start-up as "the Netflix of gigs". Photo: Supplied

"People used to buy records now they stream through Spotify, they used to buy DVDs now they stream through Netflix," he says. "We are creating a new way for people to access events. They never have to think about what to do on a weekend." 

GiggedIn started out as a crowd funding platform for music events which Onggo says "didn't work out quite how we wanted to" so he pivoted to the subscription model.

Founding investment from Blue Chilli helped build GiggedIn's technology and the platform has since raised $750,000 and is now seeking another $1 million.

Onggo says subscription revenue grew to "six figures" in GiggedIn's first year.

"We realised that our members and people that love music and love going out find it hard to find really great gigs and experiences in their cities every week and find it difficult to afford," he says. "It helps introduce artists to new audiences so we can work with them and secure really great deals for both parties."  

A new model for business

The Netflix model offers a new take on existing subscription business models according to Associate Professor Danielle Logue, specialist in entrepreneurship at UTS Business School. 

"At its heart it is a traditional subscription or membership based model but has an algorithm where you get that mass customisation for the business model," she says. "Inspired by Netflix and these all you can eat models you get the sense that they are very personalised and that they know you."

Logue says the Netflix model can be applied across a range of sectors.

"It's convenient, customised and curated for you," she says. "Everyone used to be saying they were the Uber of this and that. Now it's Netflix.

"Historically it's a long tail business model based on having a lower volume in a large range of items," she says. "I think this still carries through to these subscription models. The difference now is technology can be used to assist in really personalising that subscription". 

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