The YnoGuy Part 2. Starting with... Alexa?

A Brief History of Yno and the Guy

Four years ago I started this blog as part of a major change in my life. I never mentioned this in previous blogs, but I was once a software developer/designer. In particular, I built Flash applications. For 10 years I worked as a private contractor for brands like Levis, Williams-Sonoma, Lexus, and HBO. However when Flash died, so did my business.

Almost immediately after, I tried to mix my software skills with my long time passion for wine. I spent 4 months developing a wine app called the Yno Wizard. At the time (2013) there were limited choices for consumers to scan wines and save their own ratings from their phone. I released a beta version on Android and quickly learned how hard it is to promote and monetize an app. In addition, shortly after release, Google removed a shopping API which was important to the functionality of my app. The Wizard was done for. Back to the drawing board.

Feeling exasperated by the loss of my business and my app experience, I launched head long into the wine business. Thus began this blog and my new career as a wine educator. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that my affinity for being a software developer had not left me. In particular, I was appalled by the POS and CRM software tools we were given. Also, based on the feedback I was getting from our winery customers, I felt there was a real need for something to help improve a consumer’s understanding of wine. Something to help them discover their own palettes. Yes, time for another career change!

Today I work for Wine Glass Marketing, a small full service direct marketing agency for the wine industry. My role as a programmer and data migrator avails me to most of the commercial software used in the wine business. In addition, I have enrolled with software bootcamp Bloc.io to hone my software skills and begin development on new app projects.

In the coming weeks and months you will see major changes to this blog and I promise to be more active. I will finish my blog series’ The Tale of Two Counties and What the Hell is a Wine Club Anyway? and continue talking about wine. However, you will also see new posts on what’s going on with my endeavors in wine software.

Oil and Vinegar

Wine and software have historically mixed like oil and vinegar. Take Delectable, for instance. It is an excellent consumer wine app (that I happen to be a professional contributor on) recently sold at a discounted rate. It’s good, but it didn’t compel enough use to be profitable. I believe it, as well as all wine apps, are missing two fundamental components for wine consumers:

Do they feel like they’re gaining something? Is this improving there overall wine experience? Is it fun? Does it bring joy to their lives beyond the wine itself? Let’s face it, discovering wine is fun enough on it’s own. For most, it doesn’t need software. However, despite my own personal failures, I believe there is room for something compelling here. Something that will bring people together to share and discover wine like never before. The time and technology are right for a major, albeit gradual, disruption of the consumer wine experience and business as a whole. I believe that wine and software might finally make a nice vinaigrette.

Brave New World… in baby steps

I recently completed my first Alexa app. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly been hearing about new voice-activated devices for your home that will do things like play music, order pizza, find recipes, or even hail you an Uber. If you are a lover of technology and like to be on the “bleeding edge,” I highly recommend you get one of these devices. If not, you might want to wait a bit until they become more mainstream. The current leaders are usual suspects Google Home and the Amazon Echo series of devices. I chose the latter to develop for, and own a Dot. I have high hopes for this technology as I believe it will be a key to integrating the internet more seamlessly into our daily lives. By making interfaces conversational, we might also make them more socially acceptable by finally lifting our heads away from our damn screens!

My first, of I hope several wine apps, is simply called Wine Trivia. There are already a few of these apps available. You will always be able to identify my apps by their Yno logo.

Yno Logo

This app is a simple standard Alexa trivia app. Once enabled, just say, “Alexa, ask wine trivia” and she will give you 5 trivia questions. These will range from challenging WSET and Somm questions to fun wine movie facts. If you enjoy it, please rate it and feel free to post your comments and suggestions to this blog. My next app called Wine Facts should be out in the coming week. This is another simple standard app that when asked, “Alexa, open Wine Facts” will respond with a wine fact of the day. I will keep both of these apps up-to-date with new, exciting content!

There is a third app to be released this summer that I am very excited about. It is intended to bring real joy to wine tasting and discovery–without the tasting room.

Stay tuned…