Milwaukee Wine Subscription Startup Now Also Shipping Cheese

Bright Cellars appears to have little difficulty adjusting to its surroundings.

The monthly wine service, which started in Boston but moved to Milwaukee last year, says it is now also shipping boxes of artisan cheeses to customers’ doorsteps.

The cheeses are all made in the Badger State, Bright Cellars says.

“Wisconsin has some of the best cheese in the world,” says Katie Slavin, a business analyst at Bright Cellars who also serves as its manager of cheese operations, in a prepared statement. “We’re in the perfect place to find the best cheese in the world and deliver it all over the country.”

Those interested in signing up for Bright Cellars’ “cheese experience” start by answering a series of questions, such as whether they prefer hard or soft cheese, how they take their coffee, and what types of snacks, fruits, and desserts they like to eat.

A software algorithm developed by the startup then analyzes the responses and makes individual recommendations from a list of more than 900 cheeses, according to Bright Cellars’ website. Customers pay $55 for a box containing four different cheeses.

The onboarding process is similar for members of the company’s wine club, of which there are now more than 15,000, Bright Cellars says.

After receiving bottles of wine in the mail and trying them, users can submit ratings and reviews. Similar to Pandora’s (NYSE: P) system for giving feedback on music, the idea is that having more data allows Bright Cellars to better understand users’ tastes, and in turn to suggest vintages they’re most likely to enjoy. The startup seems to believe that the model will be effective in helping educate customers about cheese, as has happened with wine, says Richard Yau, co-founder and CEO of Bright Cellars.

While Wisconsin is home to numerous wineries, the state is best known for producing beer. Bright Cellars has grown steadily while focusing solely on wine, though, and Yau says given that his company is headquartered in “America’s Dairyland,” expanding its offerings made sense.

“Cheese was a natural pairing for wine, and being based in Wisconsin is perfect,” Yau says in a prepared statement.

Yau co-founded Bright Cellars in 2014 with Joe Laurendi, the company’s chief technology officer. It went through Gener8tor, a Wisconsin-based startup accelerator, in early 2015, and raised $1.8 million from investors later that year. Bright Cellars currently has 23 employees, according to a press release issued Monday.

Bright Cellars Cheese Experience Launch by Jeff Buchanan on Scribd

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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