Terroir at Home
Company: Sommi Wine Cellars
Product: Custom Wine Cellars
Founder: Vieng Oudom
Launched: February 2015
The wine-cellar market is not exactly known for variety. Today’s oenophiles are limited either to bulky premade wine cellars from overseas or custom-made cellars that can easily run more than $150,000.
“When you get into built-in wine cellars, they’re not only expensive, but you really need a large collection,” says Vieng Oudom, founder of Portland-based Sommi Wine Cellars.
The idea for Sommi — short for sommelier — came to Oudom when his sister, Sommie (yes, her name also served as inspiration), wanted a free-standing wine cellar for her living room. But nothing fit the space or decor, so she settled for a Vinotemp cellar made in China — and stashed it in her garage.
After encountering similar problems in his own home, Oudom decided to leverage his mechanical engineering background to design handcrafted cellars featuring high-end structural details and salvaged wood sourced from local purveyors. Clients can select the materials, including handles and racking configuration, and Oudom subcontracts the building to local craft shops Makers Woodworks and Orion Forge.
Prices range from $7,950 for a model that holds 72 bottles, to $13,950 for the Model VV1, which holds 448. “This philosophy of using seasoned craftsmen and high-quality material is expensive, but we believe in providing our clients with the best wine cellars that are as discerning as they are,” says Oudom, whose own collection consists of about 50 bottles, mostly Oregon pinot.
Sommi grossed $70,000 in 2015, and Oudom projects $250,000 in revenue for 2016. Low overhead is key to his business model. “We don’t carry any inventory,” Oudom says.
Setting his sights on urban denizens, Oudom this year launched the Credenza model, geared toward modern lofts and penthouses. As he grows the product line, Sommi will stick to its core mission providing elegant, functional wine storage options, Oudom says. “The ultimate goal is to provide that wow factor.”
Where they are now
Kirk Thornby, CEO of Poached Jobs
When we profiled Poached Jobs in our March 2015 issue, the hospitality-focused online hiring board operated in 11 cities and employed nine people. A year later, the company is active in 12 markets, with openings scheduled for San Antonio, Philadelphia and San Diego this spring. Poached has 15 staffers, and revenues doubled for the fourth year in a row, says founder Kirk Thornby. “It’s akin to those races where you run through the mud and swing on ropes over giant pits of fire,” says Thornby of his entrepreneurial journey. “It’s all about determination and keeping the momentum.”