Building the WineCollective Business – WineCollective
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Building a Business

Building a business and being an entrepreneur is often dramatized in the press and media. While popular culture shows the life of an entrepreneur as being one of excitement and fast-moving decision making, the reality is often much more sedate. The overnight success story is often a result of hard work and perseverance in the face of long odds of success.

After an initial “soft launch” period in 2009, WineCollective started to grow rapidly serving a new market for a technologically enabled wine club. This required an investment in technology. Rather than buy an “off the shelf” technology from one or two U.S. companies who were present in the Canadian market, the decision was made to incorporate BlackSquare Inc. in 2010, and to build a proprietary ecommerce technology specifically targeting the global industry for direct to consumer sales of wine, beer and spirits. BlackSquare is the parent company of WineCollective, and currently exports white label ecommerce technology to producers and retailers on five continents globally. WineCollective was the beta tester for this new software and is key in the continued innovation of BlackSquare.

The global alcoholic drinks industry has substantially different regulatory and operational  requirements than does generic ecommerce, and as such a custom ecommerce and logistics platform is required.

We often get asked – how did a technology company, specialized in alcoholic drinks ecommerce startup in Calgary? The short answer is that we’re fortunate to be domiciled in the most progressive Canadian province for alcohol sales – Alberta. With Alberta’s deregulated retail system, WineCollective was able to be started and with that came the benefit of high-tech jobs with BlackSquare. Due to Alberta’s progressive nature around liquor sales, the province now benefits from a strong, technology company which diversifies the provincial economy.

BlackSquare has contributed substantially to the Alberta economy since its founding in 2010, while achieving a number of accolades.

 

BlackSquare’s Highlights:

  • Nominated as a finalist for the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year in both 2015 and 2016 and was named Most Innovative Small Business in Calgary for 2016.
  • Winning a number of awards on behalf of clients for wine website ecommerce in Australia, including “Best Wine Website in Australia” by the Wine Communicators of Australia in 2017 and 2014.
  • Named a finalist by Canada Post as the “Most Innovative Ecommerce Company in Canada” in 2016.
  • 35+ white collar, high-tech employees in Calgary, many of whom moved to BlackSquare from the oil & gas industry after the downturn started in 2014.
  • 100% of BlackSquare’s research & development globally is done in Calgary, adding substantial tax and employment benefits straight to the Alberta economy.
  • Registered with the Alberta Government as an eligible business corporation for the Alberta Investor Tax Credit program, which is a plan put in place to encourage the growth and success of companies which are focused on diversifying the Alberta economy.
  • A work-force which is gender-balanced, with more than half of BlackSquare employees being female, with two of three BlackSquare business lines being managed by women.
  • Tens of thousands of dollars donated to charity through sponsorship, volunteering or support of 50+ charity events over the past 5 years. BlackSquare also has a policy which allows employees to use paid personal days for volunteer activity.

 

Canadian Partners that we work with:

Canadian Charities, Arts & Communities that we have supported:

Some of our media coverage:

  • MacLean’s
  • Globe & Mail
  • Canadian Living
  • Financial Post
  • National Post
  • Global News
  • Breakfast Television
  • The Social
  • Alberta Venture
  • Calgary Herald
  • Avenue Magazine
  • The Marilyn Denis Show
  • Winnipeg Free Press
  • Techvibes
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