Konrad Jagodzinski has always been passionate about food and wine pairing, but he realised that many people out there found the whole idea of pairing wine with a particular type of food too daunting to even consider. He wondered if there could be a scientific method to pairing, and after much research he discovered that this in fact goes to a far more molecular level than he realised, and therefore it could in fact be done. So he made it his mission to take this research and create a website that could open food and wine pairing to virtually anyone with a connection. We spoke to him to find out more about the Delipair concept.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Delipair business offering?

At Delipair we help people to achieve the ultimate dining experience by guiding them to the best paired wine, either red or white, with one click.

And where are you based?

We’re based in Techhub, London, but our lab and coders are in Gdynia, Poland. However anyone can get free and easy access to food-wine pairings from anywhere, by pointing their browser to Delipair.com.

Who do you see your target audience as? Did you see a particular need in this market?

Our audience is quite simply anyone who wants to really enjoy their food. The drink you have with your meal can make or break the whole experience. Drink complements food, but most people don’t realise this. People are also put off by the complexity of solving it because they can sense that it requires a different set of advanced skills.

Tell us about your unique selling point and what gives you the competitive edge

Simply put, we fused science and technology to solve a centuries old problem of food-wine pairing. We’re starting with wine, which is a black box for the majority of people. Wine and food pairing is a thing of tradition, historically limited to cuisines from nations that are big producers of wine such as France, Italy, Spain etc. This tradition-based approach fails miserably in a world where people enjoy a wide variety of cuisines. Our goal is to ensure that no matter what your poison, and your choice of food, our technology will help you achieve a pairing for the best possible dining experience.

And how long have you been working on Delipair? What stage has it reached to date?

3 years. Initial tests in 2013, just toying with the idea for personal use back then, by testing it on friends and family. Since deciding to build it into a business we’ve put together a beta version at our site.

How have you funded the project? Have you reached out to investors for example?

For the first year, I was using my savings to fund the goal of completing the beta version. However, after searching through almost two hundred scientific publications on wine analysis, the data I needed just didn’t exist. So I had to complete a custom research project for wine analysis, costing $100,000!

The funding came from where I least expected it. My two business angels were people I worked for as a project manager on completely unrelated projects. They knew me as a project manager and saw my huge passion for Delipair, which convinced them that I would deliver whatever I promised.

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Is this your first startup venture or did you start other businesses before this?

Technically, it’s my second startup. I started a business years ago right after university, which lasted a year and taught me a lot. Back then in Poland, nobody called a new business a startup though!

How did the idea for this business come about? What makes you so passionate about Delipair?

I read a book called “Taste Buds And Molecules” by Francois Chartier, which was interesting because it broke from the tradition I mentioned earlier. This made me interested in testing the idea of molecular wine and food pairing. For some time I was trying to figure out what this business should be, and the book was the final piece of the ‘wine startup’ puzzle.

My passion for Delipair comes from how much it can enhance each meal. It’s stunning even how everyday dinners may turn into a feast for the senses when you properly pair with wine. Even inexpensive wines can amaze you with their hidden qualities, when paired correctly with your food. But to understand this you have to try Delipair, there is no other easy way!

Tell us about your work background and how you came to be running your own business

I’m an experienced project manager, having worked on business development projects for the last seven years. I saw the possibilities of globalisation for those who dare, so when I found my ‘perfect’ business idea, I decided to go for it.

What about your childhood? Any entrepreneurs there who inspired you?

I came from a middle class family, which was not into entrepreneurship. Somebody had to be the first!

Do you have any hobbies that you are passionate about? Do you think these influence how you run your business?

I’m a wine geek and a food-traveller. I like to visit the same places, like Tuscany or Scotland, year after year, uncovering new layers from their worlds, especially tastes and aromas. You may say that I’m a hedonist when it comes to wine, whisky and food!

This influences this business enormously, because I’m passionate about fixing the widespread problem about choosing wine.

Do you have a mentor or role model who inspired you?

My late grandfather Henryk. What he taught me defined my personality. He was an honest and hardworking man, and that’s his legacy in my professional life.

Can you think of any particular event that was the inspiration to start the Delipair venture?

I remember the moment vividly. It was late, on a snowy night in February 2014. I was driving home after an event about lean startups, and my thoughts all fell into place – and so Delipair was born!

Do you have a business partner?

My business angels are my business partners.

Tell us about the most exciting moment to date in running this business

July 2015, when I saw results of wine analysis. The quality and depth of data was so astonishing, I knew I had created a scientific approach to solve food-wine pairing.

What about the toughest moment?

November 2014, when I won a startup competition at Digital Wine Communication Conference in Montreux, Switzerland. At this point I knew there is a value in Delipair. However I wasn’t able to simultaneously find an investor for the wine analysis. Anyway, thankfully that’s history.

Have you made any bad decision along the way? What did you learn from this?

I started a company with a friend right after university, which lasted a year. We had great ideas but operating in a risk-averse environment killed our enthusiasm. Our fear of failure was so strong that we really did fail. So I learned early that failing fast and failing often are the only ways to go.

Was there ever strange moment where you just felt that you were following your destiny?

There is a sailing concept called ‘Velocity made good’, which applies well to my startup story. All my experiences since university have given me nuggets of invaluable experience. However the key for me has been to harness all these experiences in the form of Delipair.

What is your goal for your company for the next few years?

I envision Delipair being the best solution to find a beverage for the ultimate dining experience.

And finally, what would be the one bit of advice that you would offer to someone considering a startup?

Use what I call ‘shark strategy’. Be visible, meet people, go outside your comfort zone, pitch everywhere, make connections, make decisions, right or wrong (both will happen), but don’t hesitate, don’t stop for a moment. Believe.

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