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Q&A With David From

2 February 2015

“It is during failure that you learn about business.” – David Muller

If you’re an avid wine-drinker and internet-browser, no doubt you would have come across the popular e-commerce store, In the business of selling liquor – mainly wine – online, this Website is growing from strength to strength and boasts the title of being South Africa’s second oldest surviving e-commerce store. I sat down with David Muller, Managing Director (MD) of CyberCellar, to find out more about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in Africa, wine and online retail. This is what he had to say…

  1. How did you get involved in CyberCellar? 

    I wish I could say, “I had a dream…”, but sometimes I think that you don’t choose the wine industry, the wine industry chooses you. I joined Cybercellar as a minority shareholder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2012. One thing lead to another and myself and the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), at that stage, decided to buy the company outright.

  2. Tell us more about 

    CyberCellar is proudly South Africa’s second oldest surviving e-commerce store specialising in the sale of premium wines, beers, liqueurs, and wine accessories. Founded in 1998, CyberCellar is South Africa’s best online wine Website and boasts over 3 000 wines and beers.

  3. How did the name ‘CyberCellar’ originate? 

    The name ‘CyberCellar’ stands as testimony to the era in which it was coined: the internet-wild frontier of the nineties; when was still virtualvineyard. Just as Kalahari was a play on Amazon, I assume that CyberCellar was a play on VirtualVineyard.

  4. What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur? 

    The continuous need for personal growth and capacity-building. A company growing from scratch to relative size is like a child growing up through adolescence into adulthood. The skills and abilities that were good enough yesterday are insufficient tomorrow. You need to grow with it, be self-aware, humble and willing to learn and adapt.

  5. What is your favourite part of your job?This is going to sound like a cliché, but getting up in the morning – I love what I do.

    Also, tasting many wines for free comes as an added bonus!

  6. What has been your biggest learning curve with regards to starting a company within the South African online retail industry?

    Online retail, in essence, is retail and that is a tough industry. Just consider the average profit margin of your large retailers. You need to innovate and delight and never just assume. Finally, it is true what they say: cash flow is king.“In success you only learn about good cigars, it is during failure that you learn about business.”

  7. What are you most passionate about within CyberCellar? 

    The fact that it is working and that our hard work over the last two years is bearing fruit. Success is a great feeling that stirs passion and motivation. It is also rewarding to see how the people alongside you have grown through the challenges and have even outgrown you!

  8. What are some of CyberCellar’s most popular wines?

    Our popular wines are very much driven by the deal of the month, but the consistent performers are the following:Springfield Life From Stone
    Meerlust Rubicon
    Bartinney Noble Savage
    La Motte Millennium
    Any Platter 5 Star Wine
    Any wine from the Sadie Family
    Antebellum Chenin Blanc

  9. What can consumers expect from in the coming months?

    What sets Cybercellar apart from most other eCommerce companies is that we are very narrowly focussed; where other outfits have many product categories, we only have one – wine. We have found the most promising aspect of CyberCellar to be customer service and personal relationships with our customers. Our strategy, moving forward, is to build on this core offering of the widest selection of wine at cellar door prices, with a great focus on further bettering the customer experience. I strive to see CyberCellar as the dominant wine retailer in South Africa with a footprint established in neighbouring countries as well as Europe. I hope to hear the name CyberCellar in any conversation that features wine and for it to be spoken about in an affectionate, proud tone.

  10. If you had to purchase an order from, what would your product order include?

    Kanonkop Paul Sauer. That would be the ‘spoiling myself’ order. There is a reason it won the Best International Blend three times. Otherwise, I mostly purchase the latest Bordeaux Blends we have on special, as they are all great value for money.

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