Diana Isac – CEO and Co-Founder of Winerist

[quote style=”boxed”]Go out there and push your limits. The more you stay in the comfort zone the more complacent you become.[/quote]

Diana Isac is the CEO and Co-Founder of Winerist, the first global fully integrated wine travel platform. Winerist gives travelers access to informative travel guides as well as the opportunity to book experiences, tours and hotels in winemaking regions around the world.

Diana graduated from the London School of Economics and later pursued a career in the financial industry, with the Investment Management Firm, BlackRock. She has since set up a not for profit organization, 2Water which works with the world of wine and hosts wine tastings to bring water projects in developing countries. It is through the charity and the first wine travel experience that the concept behind Winerist was born.

Winerist is a London based company; its Co-Founders, Diana Isac and Tatiana Livesey as well as the rest of the team is currently located in London, United Kingdom

What are you working on right now?

I am planning my first ever trip to Sicily for a Winerist partner review trip as well as mini holiday. Winerist is a lot about relationships with partners, nurturing old and developing new ones. We find that we can recommend our wine regions, the boutique hotels and experiences in the region only once we have tried them. Our Sicily expert swears by this region so I am excited to try it for myself! I cannot wait to sea the black sand beaches, to visit the wineries of Mt Etna and eat the local food. I have been craving hearty, pure Italian food for months and Sicily is just the place for it!

Where did the idea for Winerist come from?

In 2010 we went on a self-drive trip through Champagne, Burgundy, Provence, Piemonte and Tuscany. Covering 5 wine regions with my favourite people, all on a Wine Atlas, is probably the most exciting thing I have ever done. The diversity of these regions, the culture, the food and the wine, they represent the best way to know a region and its people. The idea came to mind when my partner and I realised that there was no website to help us research, book and inquire about wine regions. We had to spend endless weeks on various websites and on the phone, and that was with two wine experts in the group. We decided that it is time to make wine travel simple, so we did exactly that a year later when we launched Winerist.

What does your typical day look like?

I spent a lot of my day with my team. We brainstorm, work on complex booking inquiries and develop innovative ideas for email marketing.We also love looking at our data and the feedback we get via various channels. One of my main areas of focus is also writing a lot of content, based on my experiences with Wine Travel. People like to hear from people who have tried the product. Our reviews are candid and in regions where we feel that we cannot have the right partners, we simply do not offer more than just a few selected hotels. This way our offer is real and tested.

More recently I spend the days strategising and preparing the company for the first round of investment. It is all very exciting and my business partner and I are looking forward to developing the company in the next few months.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I rarely experience fear. Probably has to do with being on my own from the age of 16 in a new country, with new people and fully out of my comfort zone. I have a period of assessment, analysis, then think of an exit strategy and go for things. I also never have all my eggs in one basket andhave learned to say no to a lot of things, ideas and people. Winerist has taught me a lot about myself, my limits and it has taught me patience too.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The direction of travel and wine startups. Everyone is online, transparent and innovative now. These two industries have shifted so much in recent years. The wine industry is still somewhat behind, but companies like IG Wines, DropWines are shifting trends. It’s very exciting to run a startup which has so much exposure in both industries.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Working in a pub on the Isle of Man. This was before the smoking ban and I hated the smell of smoke and fried food on my clothes and hair which was only made worse by my bike ride back to school. In many ways it was also a great escape. I was away from my family, at a boarding school on an island in the Irish sea. It was escapism in its purest form and the owners of the pubbecame a bit of a second family.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Go out there and push your limits. The more you stay in the comfort zone the more complacent you become.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A very edgy and affordable personal chef website which would allow you to select your cuisine of choice and book a chef at short notice. A lot of my friends have a very busy lifestyle and sometimes it would be nice to host last minute dinner parties in the comfort of your own home. It makes a nice change from eating out or ordering takeaways. If someone does it I will gladly put myself up for testing the service!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would ensure that everyone has access to clean water. Creating 2Water gave me a different perspective on our water consumption. Not a day goes by without me appreciating a shower, free sanitation and fresh drinking water out of a running tap. It’s a luxury which more than 1bilion people in the world cannot and will not afford for many decades to come.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I sometimes think I am very funny and laugh at my own jokes.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Google – for the endless opportunities and knowledge it offers
Twitter – for building relationships with people and easy access to likeminded individuals and companies
Online Shopping – food, because I can have food delivered to my house and clothes because I find it time consuming and pointless. I will wear the same clothes over and over again until my colleagues tell me that I should probably try wearing my outfits in a different sequence.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would recommend The Lean Startup for people who are thinking of starting a business. But I am a big fan of politics and philosophy. At home I have a great library and I tend to reread my books on fights, during breakfast or on the London underground.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?


When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Tonight when my other half decided to lift some weights 5 minutes after having dinner.

Who is your hero, and why?

I know it sounds like a cliché, but it would have to be my parents. They are the most hardworking and inspiring people I know. My dad runs a hospice for incurable patients and is a wonderful doctor. My mother is one of the most nurturing and strongest people I know. I owe all of my determination, belief in myself and the work ethic to them.

If you had more free time in the day what would you do?

A lot more yogaand a lot more reading!

What is the next wine making region on your list?

I have not yet been to Mendoza and Patagonia so it would have to be those two. I hope that this will be my big trip for 2014.


Diana Isac on Twitter: @dianaisac
Winerist on Twitter: @thewinerist
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