Why he's a 2014 Top 40:
Through his companies, WineCollective and BlackSquare, David Gluzman has revolutionized how wine is sold online around the world. He has also helped build the local start-up community through his DemoCamp Calgary events.
photograph by jared sych.
If David Gluzman sees a problem, he feels compelled to solve it. His roles as a wine expert, president of a tech company and local start-up mentor have all grown from that innate need to fix things and to pass those solutions on to other people.
Years ago, when Gluzman was a young competitive cyclist spending time in Europe, he developed a love of wine but sensed many
of his peers were intimidated by the often-snobby wine scene.
Gluzman went into problem-solving mode and, in 2009, started WineCollective, a curated, user-friendly wine club that introduces different wines to members, at first in Calgary and then across Canada.
But there was another problem — Gluzman didn’t have an appropriate technology platform to facilitate WineCollective as it grew. So he developed the BlackBoxx platform for online wine sales and, along with his business partner, Matthew Protti, founded BlackSquare, the company that now sells BlackBoxx to wine producers all over the world. In other words, problem solved.
“The wine industry has been around for millennia and it hasn’t really needed to change that much. You’d produce wine, you’d sell it and that’s about it,” Gluzman says. “Now, with the new generation of millennials using technology and their phones to look up wines, we really just equip the industry to help people to have the best experience possible when it comes to wine.”
Gluzman now sits as president of both WineCollective and BlackSquare and presides over an office of about 20 employees. WineCollective has expanded beyond Calgary and now has members across Canada and claims to be Canada’s largest monthly wine club, shipping the equivalent of two Orca transport trucks full of wine every month. Simultaneously, BlackSquare has facilitated the transactions on millions of dollars of wine sales online for clients including the McWilliams family wine group in Australia and Vineland, Ont., and Stags Hallow here in Canada.
In addition to all that, since 2007, Gluzman has also co-run DemoCamp Calgary, a regular event where mostly budding tech entrepreneurs share their ideas and showcase their products and software. DemoCamp aims to help others fix problems in the same ways that Gluzman has.
“What we’ve been doing with the wine industry is to light it on fire a little bit,” Gluzman says. “Back in the early days of our marketing for BlackSquare, we’d say, ‘We are the wine revolution.’ We’ve toned it down a little, but the essence of what we do still remains.” —Elizabeth Chorney-Booth