Michael and Stephen Votto discuss successful Votto Vines company

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This Friday, during common lunch, Michael P. Votto ’00 and Stephen F. Votto ’08 talked about their wine company Votto Vines – a family-operated business headquartered in Connecticut.

The business is focused primarily on the importation and wholesale distribution of fine wines produced by leading boutique vineyards around the world as well as high-profile private label and wine licensing transactions. “Our company is highly influenced by Italian traditions and cuisine,” Michael noted.

Addressing important issues that arise in the business and entrepreneurial world, the talk was primarily focused on solving these issues as both speakers related to their own company’s experiences during the talk.

Initially, Votto Vines started off as a small company selling wine cases from the back of cofounder Nick Votto’s Subaru wagon, with minimal revenue. Now however, the company is spread out over 35 states and has been ranked 464th on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. and 14th in the food and beverage category.

Looking back, Michael talked about how their company was initially on the verge of bankruptcy because people simply thought their idea was impractical, with a minimal chance of success.

However Michael, along with his team, thought their idea was disruptive for the wine market and were successful eventually. “Determination and resiliency are pivotal to success,” Michael said.

Talking about the financial side of the business, Stephen, who serves as the Senior Vice President and the Chief Financial Officer for the company, talked about how the company raised money and how they optimally used all their resources in a way that helped them achieve innumerable goals, eventually raising six million dollars in revenue.

Addressing students, Stephen highlighted the importance of following your passion and being uniquely different in the entrepreneurial world. “It’s not necessary to be big and revolutionary, what matters is that you follow your passion and lay the foundation first. Do sufficient research and reach out to potential customers and you’ll be successful eventually,” said Stephen.

Talking about networking, Michael labeled it as extremely necessary. Both speakers also highly praised Union Alumni for helping them and opening countless doors for the company. As part of his senior thesis here at Union, Stephen developed a similar business plan as well.

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