Like many great startups, Grappos was born out of a frustrating personal experience. Founder Eric Kunisawa set about picking up a bottle of his wife’s favorite wine, but wasn’t able to find it - and instead had to scour LA for what should have been a common, $12 bottle of wine. He figured there must be a better way to do this, and thought a software platform could help.
Launched in 2008, today Grappos is a powerhouse that serves some of the biggest and most popular wine industry labels.
Meet founder, Eric Kunisawa.
An inspiring origin story.
Eric is inspired by other bootstrap entrepreneurs. Having started with his own money himself, Eric recognizes that it’s not easy to start a business without a ton of cash. Legal, finance... all these things are very expensive, especially when you’re just getting started. Eric says it takes guts to make that leap of faith and stick with it, but he’s so glad that he did.
Advice for budding entrepreneurs.
Working in advertising for 15 years, Eric learned the importance of focusing on customers. Service is the secret sauce - it boosts retention and growth. And it’s what’s made Grappos successful. His clients include some of the biggest wine brands in the country, and he’s retained them for over 10 years - because Grappos takes excellent care of them. Read Founder Series Interview
Code Audit & The SolutionLab.
Beginning with an audit of the existing Grappos code, the Designli team identified that an aging codebase was leaving the product on unstable footing for the future. A SolutionLab was suggested - Designli’s blueprinting process for prioritizing features and architecture considerations in a rebuild of a software system.
Breaking a relaunch down into digestible milestones.
The Grappos rebuild and relaunch came with many considerations - not the smallest of which was ensuring a smooth rollout for existing customers that, being popular wine brands, have heavy website traffic. The SolutionLab outputs broke the plan down into a plain-English roadmap for the rebuild and relaunch.
Intimate understanding of an existing business model.
With the Grappos project - as is the case when taking over any software for an existing business - our SolutionLab focused on ensuring we had a complete understanding of the clients’ existing business processes. With these processes mapped out in detail, we were well-equipped to take over as Grappos’ lead developers.
Graphic design & prototyping.
With an accurate vision for the rebuilt SaaS product in-mind, our team completed the Design and Prototyping of the re-imagined system. This was a fantastic opportunity to build in some additional functionality that customers were asking for, showing tangible mockups to those stakeholders for feedback and validation before development started.
Agile development, launch, and ongoing support.
Grappos was built as a mobile-responsive web-app, using Angular and NodeJS - hosted on Amazon Web Services, with tight integration to MapBox for geocoding addresses into coordinates on the map. This project was tackled with an Agile, Sprint-based Methodology, and Designli continues to help Eric and the Grappos team with ongoing iteration and support.