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How the freedom of an outsider can make a successful startup founder

Building a startup in an industry you’ve never worked in may seem like a risky move, but it can actually provide a competitive advantage.

That has certainly proved true for Vivino. Founded in 2010 in Copenhagen, the scale-up has raised $221 million in funding and has grown to become the world’s most downloaded wine app and largest online wine marketplace, with a community of 50 million users.

This success came despite an unconventional backdrop. Vivino’s co-founders did not come from a place with a rich wine history and neither had worked in the industry before.

For Heini Zachariassen, co-founder of Vivino, and founder and host of Rough boot, which comes from outside the industry, adds a great advantage. “You are free to do whatever you want, however you want,” he tells TNW.

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So how does this freedom translate into establishing and scaling a successful startup?

The first important aspect is the ability to bring a fresh perspective to the market, which allowed Vivino to help a customer segment that the industry neglected: wine enthusiasts who don’t know much about wine.

Vivino supports these users with crowd sourced data. If they take a picture of a bottle or a wine label, the app can show them ratings, reviews, and average prices for the bottle.

“If you’re in the industry and you’re a little bit determined, you can have a lot of baggage that influences the decisions you make,” says Zachariassen, who will be speaking at TNW Valencia on March 30.