Utopian Shift – A Wine Experience is a wine store designed for you to love the wine you buy at a truly affordable price point. The physical storefront will carry a highly-curated selection of wines, paired with a finely tuned recommendation website that will ensure customers consistently enjoy the wines they discover at Utopian Shift.

Innovative retail wine store in fast-growing North Austin, just one mile from The Domain
Driven by a companion web app powered by a recommendation engine that recommends expertly-curated wines priced under $15 for customers based on their individual palates
First year revenue forecasted at $1.6 million
This investment is secured by a blanket lien on all assets of the business


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Utopian Shift
October 29, 2017

A Crowd-pleasing Update!

In response to customer feedback, we are implementing a few exciting changes. We have expanded our hours and are now open 7 days a week (Mon-Fri 4-9pm and Sat-Sun 1-7pm)! We are also introducing wines that have been rigorously tested and found to meet almost everyone’s tastes. These “Crowd Pleasers” will be available for in-store purchase without needing to order online first and are perfect for gifts, parties or impulse purchases.

Investment Terms

Reimagining The Thing Formerly Known as The Box LLC

Type of Offering
Regulation Crowdfunding

Offered By
NextSeed US LLC

Offering Min


Offering Max


Min Individual Investment


Raised to date


Type of Securities Term Note
Annualized Interest Rate 18%
Maturity 42 months


Security Interest Blanket Lien
Ownership % Represented by Securities

0% equity interests in the Issuer or any voting or management rights with respect to the Issuer as a result of an investment in Securities.

View the Issuer's SEC Form C filing

Use of Proceeds

100% of proceeds from NextSeed will be put towards startup costs, inventory purchases, and working capital for the initial months post-opening.

Company Description

Look at your average wine shopper and you’ll find them in a supermarket aisle deciding which wine to buy based on the label.

"If I don’t know which of these wines I’m going to like better, I might as well pick the one with the nicer looking label."

With this as their selection model, it’s no wonder they are drinking wine they love less than 25% of the time.

Utopian Shift – A Wine Experience is a wine store designed for you to love the wine you buy at a truly affordable price point. The physical storefront will carry a highly-curated selection of wines, paired with a finely tuned recommendation website that will ensure customers consistently enjoy the wines they discover at Utopian Shift.

The biggest problem facing consumers today is information overload. When you’re buying wine at retail stores that carry 1,000-2,000+ different wines, you don’t have trusted techniques to distinguish one wine from another. Smaller specialty wine stores try and solve this problem by having knowledgeable staff that can help customers find wines that they’re looking for, but these stores carry few, if any, affordable options.

In reality, wines priced at under $9 at retail represent 75% of all retail wine sales in the US, and only 5% of the adult population has ever purchased a bottle of wine priced over $20 retail.

To serve the majority of the population, Utopian Shift will be opening a retail location in North Austin. The expert staff will stock an inventory of less than 300 high quality wines, all carefully selected and all priced under $15.

To help customers further narrow down their choices, Utopian Shift has spent approximately 5,000 hours over the past two years developing and rigorously testing a proprietary engine that recommends wines for people based on their taste and preferences. The website provides both basic and detailed information about each wine, accurate flavor descriptions, and specific recommendations that allow customers to easily find wines that are just right for them.

This unique business model allows the store to carry much smaller levels of inventory (less than 300 SKUs vs. thousands for major competitors), resulting in a smaller retail footprint (approximately 2,000 square feet vs. 8,000+ square feet for major competitors) and lower staffing costs. These advantages will allow Utopian Shift to be very competitive on price, even compared to large chain stores.

The Utopian Shift team has the management, wine and retail experience needed to launch a successful retail wine store. Between its founders, the group has decades of experience in wine curation, project management, technology development, and marketing for some of the biggest companies in the world. They have rigorously tested every aspect of the business and value proposition, making adjustments as needed to ensure their success.

Business Model

Utopian Shift—A Wine Experience is a brick and mortar, retail wine shop that will be located in North Austin, and it is the first retail wine store in the world powered by its own recommendation engine.

Utopian Shift’s target demographic is Millennials (ages 21-38). Millennials are now drinking more wine than any other generation, accounting for 42% of all wine consumed in the US in 2015, compared with Baby Boomers at 30% and Generation X at 20%. Millennials are also more comfortable with technology and more likely to be amenable to an algorithm suggesting wines for them. Austin has a considerably higher percentage of Millennials than the US overall. The median age in Austin is 32.8 years while the overall US median age of 36.8 years.

Utopian Shift is designed to provide a streamlined and enjoyable experience for the consumer. Through years of experience and research, the team has developed a great wine shopping experience.

Ericka Obenar, a partner, will create a mix of digital and experiential marketing to create awareness and drive traffic to the shop. She has years of experience successfully managing large advertising campaigns at some of the largest advertising agencies in the world (Wunderman, Avenue A| Razorfish, R/GA) and for global clients (Microsoft, Nike, Xbox). She will be focused on creating a mix of digital and experiential marketing to create awareness and drive traffic to the shop.

Utopian Shift will deliver a great experience and a fundamental shift in how things are currently done in the space. The business is based on three fundamental principles:

  1. Serve the majority 
  2. Reduce complexity 
  3. Provide great recommendations 

First, Utopian Shift’s entire selection of wines will be priced at $15 and under.

Most people simply don’t buy expensive wines. Wines selling for less than $9 represent 75% of all sales (volume), and 50% of the value of all sales. Only 5% of people ever buy wines over $20, and of those people, 87% also drink wines under $20.

Second, Utopian Shift will carry no more than a curated selection of 300 wines.

Surveys have shown that people are less than enthused about their wine purchasing experience. There are too many options, and not enough expertise to guide them through the selection process. Supermarkets and mass merchandisers (e.g., Wal-Mart) account for 42% of all retail wine sales in the U.S. and staff there have little to no wine knowledge. Larger wine retailers (e.g., Specs, Total Wine, etc.) have a limited capacity to offer individualized recommendations, yet they carry thousands of options that make the selection process overly complex. Smaller retailers generally have good wine knowledge, but stock few, if any, wines under $15. The end result is that people purchase a lot of bad wine and have low levels of satisfaction.

The Utopian Shift team brings decades of experience to the table, and will constantly refine its selection process. Stephen Deyton, a partner who will manage the day to day operations at Utopian Shift, is a sommelier and wine expert. Consumers can browse assured that all wines in the store have been preapproved for quality and taste.

This streamlined approach not only serves its customers better, it also provides Utopian Shift with the ability to better manage inventory, space, and experience.

Fewer SKUs reduce the complexity of its ordering and inventory management process, also allowing it to purchase individual wines at lower price points. Less physical space is required to display and store the limited selection as well. Utopian Shift will operate out of a 2,000-square foot space compared to larger competitors that require upwards of 8,000+ square feet.

Most importantly, consumers are much more likely to walk away satisfied, increasing loyalty with the shop.

Finally, the team has spent more than 5,000 hours over the past 2 years creating, testing, and refining its recommendation engine. This website helps consumers input their preferences for flavor profiles and tracks their purchases and enjoyment of each type of wine. It becomes more intelligent about the user’s preferences, and it recommends wines that the user may want. The website also helps to reduce the amount of labor that is required to provide a curated selection. Less bias and variation between staff helps to ensure that every customer receives the same high quality guidance and advice.

Here’s how the website works…

First, customers answer questions about their palate.

Based on this, Utopian Shift recommends wines customers can order and pick up from their retail location.

Additional information about each wine is available should customers need it.

And the algorithm learns from customer feedback, so recommendations get better over time.

Location Analysis

Utopian Shift—A Wine Experience will be located at 2521 Rutland Dr #600, Austin, TX 78758.

Austin/Round Rock is the 12th largest wine market in the US, and it is the fastest-growing wine market in the US (growing 34.7% over 7 years). Austin is also the fastest growing big city in the US, growing 2.9% per year (20% more than Denver, the next fastest).

The location is across the street from the JJ Pickle Research Campus, a satellite campus for The University of Texas at Austin. It is also less than one mile from The Domain in North Austin. Locating a store in this general area will allow Utopian Shift to market to the massive population that either lives in/near or frequents The Domain.

Other retailers that sell wine, beer, and other spirits through a storefront in the area

The Domain is a large mixed use development located approximately 10 miles north of downtown Austin in the heart of Austin’s tech corridor. It has rapidly developed into what many are calling “Downtown North,” as it is the hub of affluent North Austin. There are currently more than 1,800 residential units within the complex with plans to expand to 5,000 residential units. There are also 4 hotels (led by a 341 room Westin hotel), offering a total of 772 rooms. There is an additional 1.46 million square feet of office space with plans to expand to 3.5 million square feet of office space. By comparison, downtown Austin has 11,000 residents and 8.5 million square feet of office space.

Austin Overview

  • Trade area population: 940,950 (11th biggest in the US)
  • Total daytime population: 1,079,247
  • Trade area households: 359,125
  • Average household income: $84,969 (vs. overall US median household income: $51,939)
  • Median age: 32.8 years (vs. overall US median age: 36.8 years)
  • Austin population 21+: approximately 630,000
  • Austin is the fastest growing tech market in the US, growing 73.9% from 2004-2014 and sporting offices for many of the biggest names in technology, such as Dell, IBM, AMD, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Oracle
  • A 2016 Kauffman Foundation report listed Austin as the best city for startups with a score of 4.77, beating out its closest rivals Miami (3.16), Los Angeles (2.59) and San Francisco (2.24)


Concept of Utopian Shift formed by the team
Development and extensive testing of proprietary wine recommendation engine.
May 2017
Lease finalized
July 2017
Required permits expected to be approved by the City of Austin
September 2017
Anticipated opening for Utopian Shift—A Wine Experience

Meet the Team

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Stephen Deyton

Stephen is the wine expert at Utopian Shift and along with David will actively manage the daily operations of the store.

Stephen has deep experience as a sommelier and wine director, with over 10 years in the industry. His experience includes being the founding partner of the Barrel Room, a retail wine shop/wine bar/restaurant in San Francisco. He also worked as a wine director at Park Tavern in 2014. He received training as a sommelier at Université du Vin a Suze la Rousse in France.

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David Huth

David, along with Stephen, will actively manage the daily operations of the store. In addition, David handles much of the business/financial needs of the company.

David has experience in building and running new companies. He has been a technology project manager with 9+ years of experience managing projects to create websites, mobile apps and other technology products with budgets up to $5 million for companies such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the largest private foundation in the world), Pearson Education (the largest educational company in the world), Liberty Mutual Insurance (an insurance company that is #73 on the Fortune 500), and Russell Investments (a $2.7 billion global asset management firm).

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Ericka Obenar

Ericka runs the branding and marketing effort for Utopian Shift.

Ericka is an experienced technology project manager. In the past 10 years, she has managed projects worth up to $10 million, primarily at large advertising agencies for clients such as Microsoft, Nike, Xbox, Cisco, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Wells Fargo/Wachovia and Expedia. She is also a two-time Telly Award-winning producer of television commercials, corporate videos and films. Ericka is currently a Senior Program Manager at SparkCognition, a global leader in cognitive computing analytics. She also was a Senior Manager at Bridge Partners Consulting in 2015-2016 and a Senior Project Manager at Versa/Slalom in 2013-2014.

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Will Fitton

Will is the legal counsel for Utopian Shift.

Will is an intellectual property attorney at The Business Litigation Group with 20+ years of experience. His prior work experience includes stints at Latham & Watkins (2nd largest law firm in the world) and Morrison and Foerster LLP (36th largest law firm in the world).

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Jordan Sliz

Jordan provides for Utopian Shift’s artistic design and IT/technical support needs.

Jordan is a graphic designer with 8+ years of experience working as Lead Designer for deviantDESIGN on contracts for projects from local marketing to website and mobile app user experience design.



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I like the concept and I agree with how confusing it can be in selecting wines. I want to piggyback on Timothy's question. I'm curious about how difficult you think it will be to break the typical consumer's mentality about shopping for wine. I think ...
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Thanks so much for the thoughtful questions!! Here are our responses…

Question 1) We chose our store location because of its proximity to The Domain shopping center, its easy directions from the highway, and its high traffic volumes—Burn ...

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Issuer Statement

The information contained on this campaign page (the "Campaign Information") is furnished solely by the Issuer to prospective investors in the investment opportunity described herein. All Campaign Information is intended to be a summary of the terms and information contained in the Disclosure Statement and the Note Purchase Agreement, and is fully qualified by reference to those documents. In the event any Campaign Information conflicts with the terms of the Disclosure Statement or Note Purchase Agreement, the terms of those documents will control. The Issuer has provided the Campaign Information for inclusion on the website located at www.nextseed.com, and in no way will the Campaign Information be deemed to have been created or provided by NextSeed Securities, LLC, NextSeed Services, LLC, or their affiliates.