Ninety-nine days.

That's how much time is left in 2017. Imagine developing a concept prototype, manufacturing the product, and executing its global launch before New Year's Eve.

That would really be something to celebrate. But is it possible?

The team at Coravin just demonstrated that it is. Last week, they launched the new Aerator product, an accessory to their award-winning Wine Preservation Opener, which enables wine drinkers to pour a glass of wine without uncorking the bottle. The Aerator expands the surface area of wine that's exposed to air while it's being poured, so that the wine smells and tastes as though it's been decanted for hours.

Inventor and Coravin founder Greg Lambrecht, who has also steered innovation for three medical device companies, says that success goes to the business who understands unmet customer needs better than anyone else.

Identifying the unmet need is one thing. Meeting that need, in 99 days no less, is something entirely different.

Here's how Lambrecht and his team did it, thanks largely to these three fundamental components of the business.

1. Customer connection

To be the best at understanding an unmet customer need means, for Lambrecht, "intense customer interaction." In the wine industry, that customer interaction happens in restaurants and retailers, and at trade shows and events, in order to tap into feedback from users of the Coravin Opener. Though Lambrecht himself wasn't initially a believer in the functionality -- aerating wine, in this case -- it's what his customers wanted, and they weren't able to find it.

2. The right people in the right place

Lambrecht calls the Coravin team "positive, can-do-anything people" who are exceptionally customer-focused. Having that team already in place established the momentum to take the aerator idea and run with it, quickly.

An already-established global distribution network is a second component of having the right people in the right place. Coravin's flagship product, the Wine Preservation Opener, is already for sale at retailers including Best Buy, Williams-Sonoma, Bloomingdale's, and Amazon, and in locations as diverse as Australia, France, and the United States. The network was already in place to add an accessory product to the offering on the shelf, which is obviously a tremendous advantage for a new product launch. The distribution network didn't take decades to build, however: Coravin's original system was introduced only in 2013, and its popularity was bolstered early and significantly by awards in product design and innovation. Notably, it was named an Edison Awards finalist in 2014.

A strong relationship with the manufacturer

Coravin works exceptionally well and collaboratively with Simatelex Manufactory, based in Hong Kong and led by Esther Suen. The look and feel of the physical product is an important component of its quick adoption, Lambrecht says. "People love the visual of it, and seeing something so compelling and convincing."

Lambrecht also points to a caveat of moving so fast. The downside of speed, he says, is that you can't know everything there is to know about the product -- or how people will use it -- before it hits the market. You can, however, revise instructional videos according to ongoing feedback as usage and adoption matures.

The enthusiasm of a customer base and a willing manufacturing partner, combined with a streamlined, no-red-tape company infrastructure, is how Coravin was able to develop and deliver a new product to market in 99 days.

Published on: Oct 11, 2017