Oct 14, 2021 • 5 min read
An update from our Founder 🙌
Bye-bye Beta, Hello Picks App & Marketplace
Oh hey! It’s Joel P, founder at Oak Bottle. It’s been a minute since we last reached out to update you all on how the Oak Bottle App beta has been going. Well, we have some BIG THINGS to share with you and I thought I would reach out directly to update you before anyone else.
Every day for the past 2 years, I’ve woken up early and gone to sleep late working on building my vision for a truly inclusive, unbiased and collective spirits and wine community. A community that together, would be wiser than it is individually.
On the first of January 2020, 14 days prior to news of an emerging healthcare crises that would quickly reshape our World, we put out there our first prototype of our app under the name “Oak Bottle App” to a handful of spirit enthusiast friends and family. From there our “beta” grew from 10 people to over 2,000 testers in a matter of just 3 months. This word-of-mouth growth told us we were onto something that could make a big difference for people potentially here.
At that point, our number one job was to listen to our initial users feedback and observe how you interacted with the prototype app. We created a beta Facebook group of testers to capture real-time feedback from spirit experts, we held listening sessions on IG live, we sent off MailChimp surveys for feature requests, we held 1-on-1’s with our power users, and almost daily I personally attended countless Clubhouse rooms to tell people about what we were building and to gather feedback from spirit and wine enthusiasts on where we were headed.
The result? Together, with YOU, we have created the most collaborative, unbiased, decentralized, and POWERFUL tasting review app available today. I must emphasis how important it is that you know that YOU were pivotal in building this, and we heard you and executed. Truly, I mean that. Without each of you who entrusted us with the bold mission of building a platform by the people for the people, we wouldn’t have what we have today.
You’re probably like at this point, “Okay, Okay” we get it, you love us but show us what we helped build now! So, enough of the sappy stuff, let’s get into what the “Oak Bottle App” beta looks like now as we prepare for our full launch.
I want each of you to know how grateful I am for your participation in the beta process the past year and half. Thank you for believing in me and for allowing me to share this journey with you.
— Joel Paglione, Founder at Picks
‘Oak Bottle App’ is now ‘Picks App’
Why the rebrand to “Picks App”? Well to be honest, the app has evolved so much since its initial concept and has incorporated so much more, we felt it warranted some separation from Oak Bottle while still existing as a product within the personalization vein of the Oak Bottle company portfolio.
As the product features grew and the underlying pain points, we were trying to solve for emerged, the barrel finishing aspect of the app became less and less of a core feature of the app and we felt “Picks” really incapsulates everything the app has to offer.
So what is Picks and how can I benefit from using it?
Picks essentially is the first truly crowd-reviewed tasting app for spirits and wine. A tasting app that maps your exact taste profile and gives you recommendations of spirits and wines to try. The Picks app matches your unique palate to over 10,000 spirits and wines (and growing) allowing you to consistently discover bottles you are bound to love. The more tastings you perform, the more accurate our “picks” for you become.
Picks was created with powerful analytics built in, enabling the “crowd” (our app community) to shape not only what the overall score is of a bottle but also its aggregate taste profile as well, from ‘real user-generated tastings’ most selected taste notes, not cherrypicked from “expert reviewer” comments.
Someone told us “It’s like the Waze for spirits and wine discovery”
The best part of the app is that in our community, the collective voice finally matters. Regardless of how many followers you have, subscribers who watch your videos, how many visitors that come to your blog, and regardless how many distilleries or producers you can afford to visit each year.
An extremely important goal of this app for us was that we created an environment where any spirit or wine can shine regardless of how much money is in their marketing budget. With Picks, if your juice tastes good, it moves up the ranks on the app, period. Democratizing and providing an even playing field for craft and small to medium size producers to compete. Finally.
The Crowd drinks better™
We are slightly obsessed with the “Law of Large Numbers”. The Picks app was designed with the wisdom of crowds in mind. The principle states that large groups of people, when they pool together their opinions in an unbiased and quantitative way, will be able to make wiser decisions. That principle could not describe what Picks app is doing better, frankly.
The strength of the app is YOU, the people. We just built the tool to crunch your quantitative user generated tastings into specific taste profiles. Not just for users, but even more importantly for all the bottles of spirits and wines as well. This enables us to then provide you recommendations of matches that statistically you are bound to love. Enabling you to make better purchasing decisions.
Some Key New Features
Crowdgenerated Taste Profile Descriptions
Picks automatically calculates the aggregate taste profile of each bottle and displays it in paragraph format for app users to refer to, as well as an “overall profile” for quick reference. It continues to be shaped by the community and evolves as more tastings are recorded in the app for that bottle.
It is essentially a living breathing thing – powered by you, the people. We hope that stores, and producers begin to rely on these crowdgenerated descriptions instead of on their in-house experts alone for their shelf-talkers and flavor descriptions. Tastes are subjective, and only with large numbers of tastings can you really pick up on the most detected taste notes and flavors in that bottle.
Taste Profile Mapping
Using advanced analytics on the backend of our app we can take all your tastings you create in the app and boil them down into what your precise taste preferences are and present them to you in real-time. The more tasting reviews you log, it will continue to evolve and fine tune itself over time. There is nothing out there that tells you what your favorite flavors are, not to mention your preferred sensations, oak intensity, mouthfeel and finish length.
This is such a fun feature of Picks and if you use it for no other reason, use it to find out your own taste profile – it’s eye opening, at least it was for me. If you want to see the granular details of your taste profile or any bottles profile, go to the “Examine” tool on our website and it will show you oodles of information about the specific taste attributes of any user or bottle you search. It is right there in summary or diagram formats so you can really nerd out on the details of crowdgenerated taste profiles.
Instant Picks Matches
Because we have a really accurate view of the taste profile of each spirit and wine in our app, using matching algorithms we can easily cross-reference each of those aspects (aroma, finish length, mouthfeel, sensations, oak intensity, and the eight taste categories) against each user’s taste profile looking for matches of the same attributes. We were even able to build it so it shows you the precise match % for each pick we give you.
And if you open our “Compare” tool on our website it will show you your preferences mapped visually over top of that bottles taste profile to see exactly where your tastes overlap and where they don’t. Super cool stuff and again, there’s nothing out there as powerful as this at your fingertips. Use this tool at a store or a restaurant when deciding what to pick up, making your next purchase an easy win. Or just use it to see how similar your taste profile is to your tasting buddy.
One thing we have always wanted to find a way to do, is to incorporate an ability to shop and ship directly to your door bottles you found interesting on the community tasting feed or bottles you match with.
This was the single most difficult aspect of what we were able to deliver for you with this version of Picks. Navigating the three-tier system was difficult enough not to mention connecting our apps data automatically into our marketplace (picksshop.com/shop) in a real-time way so that it makes it possible for you to shop spirits and wines by filtering on specific notes from the crowdgenerated taste profiles of each bottle in our shop.
But we did it, and it’s glorious we must say. Now you can shop the top tasted bottles from our app instantly by clicking the Buy Now button on any tasting card, on a picks match notification, or a search result of a spirit that we sell.
For the first time ever, customers can filter down the marketplace by crowd-tasted taste notes for each bottle. This helps when you are looking for bottles with specific flavors in it for that buddy’s b-day or if for yourself, you selfish bugger (jk jk!). You can instantly narrow down those bottles that contain those exact taste notes according to the crowd.
We’ve added tags, this way you can easily mark a tasting with a tag and be able to refer to it anytime using the search function. Use tags to narrow down our tastings by particular details like #SingleBarrel, #NonchillFiltered, #JapaneseWhiskey, #SmallBatch, #StorePick, and so many more. Add your own if you are part of a club or group and reference tastings from your members easily within the community feed. These tags are also being fed automatically into our marketplace at picksshop.com so you can narrow down our bottle offerings by tag, which will help you find hopefully exactly what you are looking for according to the crowd’s knowledge. We will heavily moderate these tags and ensure their accuracy.
More Feed Filters
When we first built our beta prototype app we included some basic buttons that enabled you to filter any feed you were on by spirit category, showing you whiskey tastings only for example, or Whiskey and Rum for example. Well now, we have added nine more filters. These filters and sorts now include “Shoppable”, “Expert”, “Top Scored”, “Worst Scored”, “Most Liked”, “Most Chatter”, and “Most Complex”.
The best part is they can be combined in any way you like, making it easy to filter the feed to see tasting reviews that interest you. The same filters are also available on any user’s profile feed as well, which we think is an incredibly powerful way to research and discover what others are trying and loving (or hating) in the community.
Picks App has powerful AI built in and over time will recommend things to you like:
- Bottles for you to try that match your taste profile.
- Suggestions on Users you could follow that have a similar taste profile to you.
- Recaps of your month’s tastings and engagement stats.
- Fun facts about your taste profile as it evolves.
- How close you are to unlocking verified ‘Super Taster’ status perks.
- Followership growth and engagement tips.
What does the future hold for Picks?
Honestly, the future of this app is entirely up to our community. It’s growth, evolution, and trajectory will depend on how often our users use the app and how much traction we get in terms of new users who join the community. Up until this point our founders have completely bootstrapped this products development ourselves. However, our aim would be to begin looking at fundraising series A within the next 6 months in order to grow our team, add a bunch of new features to the app that our users have asked for, bring down prices on bottles, and to expand our shoppable products including adding more spirits and wines to the shop, adding a future Club Picks subscription, and to release some tasty “peoples picks” barrel picks to the community.
Will I have to download a different app or?
Nope, the Oak Bottle App will automatically switch over to “Picks” on your phone so all you will have to do to get Picks is to update your app on the apple app store using the GET THE APP link in the upper right corner of our website and log in using the credentials of your Oak Bottle app you had before. Having trouble or forgot your email you used for the account, don’t worry just email us at email@example.com and we will help you out.