The monthly member spotlight is an opportunity to learn more about a leader at one of our member companies and showcase the work they are doing. This month, we spotlight Bill Wittur, Chief Sipster at Drinky.ca. Learn more about Drinky.ca in our member directory.
Name: Bill Wittur
Title: Chief Sipster
Drinky.ca is an online portal that allows direct-to-consumer sales of unique and unlisted alcoholic beverages. Both domestic suppliers and agents that represent international beverages can register and list their products. The site is available to all Canadians. There are no membership fees for enthusiasts and suppliers are invited to join as soon as possible in order to benefit from our one-year holiday from commission and monthly plans.
What is your role and what is your favorite part of your job?
As the owner and operator of Drinky.ca, and like most entrepreneurs that are managing startups, I’m forced to be a bit of a jack of all trades. It’s a role I love and hate. Since we’re just out of the gates, I like being involved with all aspects of the business, but I’d really like to build the business to a point where I can hand off many activities to people that I know are much better at doing what I’m doing. Design is a perfect example: I have ideas, but I admire the people that can translate those ideas and shape them into something incredible. Out of all of this, my favourite part of the job is working closer than ever with the hundreds of like-minded entrepreneurs who own or who are starting their own wineries, distilleries or breweries. These folks really know what they’re doing and it’s a privilege to represent them.
If you could have coffee with any business leader or industry expert, who would you choose, and why?
I can’t pick just one. If it were someone who’s an entrepreneur, I’d pick Elon Musk or Richard Branson. I admire what both do, and each has a unique way of being the best at what they’ve chosen to do. If it were a tech giant, it’d have to be either Larry Page and/or Sergey Brin, founders of Google. If it was an industry leader, I suppose I’d pick Stephen Spurrier, the man behind Decanter Magazine and ‘Bottleshock’, the movie which showcases the California / France wine tasting contest of 1976. If it were someone who was no longer with us, I’d pick Nikola Tesla and remind him that no matter how low he may have felt at points in his career, his footprint and efforts altered the direction of the world in the 20th century. Everyone needs to be reminded of that, even if their impact is minimal.
What is the #1 business book/blog/website you would recommend?
I love ‘Silicon Valley’ which is essentially Dan Lyons’ ‘Disrupted’ fictionalized. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson or Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. Both have had a profound impact on my sense of direction in the internet world. The Long Tail sets the blueprint for anyone wanting to implement an online store. Here Comes Everybody doesn’t exactly tell you how to get everyone to your site using social media, but at a bare minimum, reminds the world that if you’re not plugged and using digital and social strategies, your competition will eat your lunch.
Looking at your company’s future, what are you most enthusiastic about?
Drinky.ca is not only an innovative venture that addresses the ‘now’ of the surge in artisan, boutique and craft producers of alcohol, but also gives us the opportunity to leverage the business to meet people all over Ontario, Canada and the world who are behind the more interesting aspects of alcohol production: culture, history, business, creativity, politics and invention. Also, we’re excited about evolving and emerging to be a viable shopping option for Canadians as the market for alcohol changes, as promised by the leaders of our provinces. There isn’t a single national entity that represents the range of categories that we do. The options are just going to get more and more abundant and interesting!
What excites you most about the local tech community?
London is getting noticed. Also, we just started working with the folks at 121 Creative Studios down at 211 King St (the old Novak’s location). It’s an amazing space and we’re very pumped about being a part of their growth and emergence as an incubator and supporter of local businesses.
What causes or community activities is your company involved in?
I mentioned 121 Creative Studios. I volunteered a lot of time to help the crew at this location ‘spruce up’ the office space. It was quite literally ‘sweat equity’! We’ve also done some work with Pillar, ReForest London and others who don’t know that Google gives away a significant annual budget for non-profits. Over the years, I’ve also been involved with the gang at Open Media, all of whom are doing great things for Internet services in Canada and beyond, especially with Net Neutrality. My wife and I are also in the early days of setting up a new neighbourhood association for London’s Old North community. As a family, we also get involved with a number of causes and charities that are close to our hearts.