CHANGING WINE THROUGH TECH
Michael Baum, CEO and Founder of Vivant
When Michael Baum, CEO and Founder of Vivant, became the first American owner of a Burgundy vineyard, Château de Pommard, the technology entrepreneur began applying his innovative ideas to the ageold domain of wines, leading to the creation of online platform Vivant.
Michael Baum is curious by nature, and a creator of successful start-ups. Having founded six different technology companies over the years, he’s more recently been focused on starting and running Founder.org, including supporting the 128 companies started with university students around the world, Rootstock Music, and Vivant. That’s on top of his investment in Château de Pommard in Burgundy in 2014, which he has since converted to biodynamic viticulture, a topic in which he is now a passionate advocate.
“The results (of biodynamic conversion) went beyond our expectations, and our wines are now more aromatic, flavourful, and energetic than ever. We have clients all over the world in 92 different countries. To share our story with them meant we had to physically travel, creating a carbon footprint and going against our very belief in caring for our planet. So to scale, we challenged ourselves to create the magic of greeting people at the chateau, but online,” Baum explains.
“Soon, we realised this was an opportunity to help other responsible winemakers tell their story too and connect with potential clients around the world. This is something most of these smaller producers would never have the chance to do otherwise. We brought together an international team of wine educators, product designers, software engineers, and media producers to create a new platform where people can meet responsible winemakers and taste their wines alongside expert wine advisors, no matter where they are.”
The Vivant platform is a slick showcase that incorporates video, live classrooms, wine tastings and more, but there’s a more serious issue that underpins it – that currently, less than 3% of global wine is responsibly made. “Today, the wine industry isn’t sustainable at all. We’re putting all these chemicals in the ground and in our bodies. Not good at all,” laments Baum. “The problem is winemakers who produce responsible wines are in the minority, and their voices aren’t heard. Through digital wine experiences, we let them reach a global audience in a really fun way. For the consumer, we have created a way to distribute smaller tasting tubes of wine so it can now be cost-effective to taste a producer’s wine, no matter where you are in the world, during a digital experience.”