Today, Ryan talks with Johnathan Troutman and Nathan Scherotter respectively the CEO, COO and Co-Founders of Empathy Wines — which was the logical interview to follow the Gary Vaynerchuk discussion!

Ever wonder how they launched and scaled their business so fast? Nate and John detail their history with Gary and the plan to take this venture to the next level.


Gary Vaynerchuk.

You know the mastermind behind digital empire VaynerMedia. What you may not know is that Gary’s success is rooted in the wine industry.

Gary worked at his dad’s liquor store for 10 years and expanded it to a $50 million wine business.

Fast forward to today and we have Empathy Wines: a top-notch wine box subscription service.

Spearheading this newly-founded company are Jonathan Troutman and Nathan Scherotter, close colleagues with Gary Vaynerchuk at VaynerMedia.

Empathy Wines only recently launched but John and Nate are crushing it.

Here’s the story behind their success.

It started with a passion for wine and an email . . .

Nate and John first encountered with Gary Vaynerchuk through his marketing videos on wine. They shared Gary’s passion for wine. Loved his bold personality. 

The next step was obvious: they sent an email asking to work with him.

Gary hired them and this trio of entrepreneurs built startups like Cork’d, a network for wine lovers, and VaynerMedia.

The itch that had to be scratched.

VaynerMedia grew to be a digital empire.

Nate and John were thrilled but something was off. 

They hit a plateau. They were going through the motions.

They had an entrepreneurial itch and desperately needed to scratch it.

It was time to start something new.

And what brought these three entrepreneurs together?


The Beginning of Empathy Wines

Creating a wine brand is a lengthy process from start to launch. 

Securing a winery. Perfecting the wine’s flavor. Crafting a unique brand.

This required nine months of careful planning to achieve the growth Empathy Wines saw in just a few months.

Fortunately, Nate and John had Gary Vaynerchuk to expedite their success.

What role did Gary Vaynerchuk play at Empathy Wines?

It was a strategic to make Gary Vaynerchuk the face of Empathy Wines for three reasons:

#1. Established credibility

Wine is an experiential product.

People want to test mattresses out before purchasing one. Similarly, people want to sample the wine before buying a bottle.

Being an online wine retailer is challenging because customers don’t get to taste the wine.

That’s why Gary Vaynerchuk’s credibility as a wine authority figure was essential.

When Gary Vaynerchuk backs a product, people know it must be worth buying.

#2. His unmatched business expertise

Gary has taken a hands-off approach with Empathy Wines.

Nate and John handled the day-to-day operations but they still rely on Gary to advise on key business decisions.

They described Gary as still being a “bottleneck” on these areas:

  • Generating business opportunities
  • Sales
  • Software
  • Team Structure
  • PR opportunities

#3. Access to Resources

While Empathy Wines is separate from VaynerMedia, they still share an office space.

Nate and John still have access to VaynerMedia’s treasure trove of resources. Especially to experts who can offer insight on scaling their business.

Differentiating Empathy Wines from the competition

Even in a competitive industry, Empathy Wines stands out. How did they create a brand that differentiates them?

We asked and it was because of this question:

How do we create a wine brand that over-delivers for the dollars the consumer is spending in every way, shape, and form?

They applied this question to every business decision.

It worked because it inspired these services unique to Empathy Wines:

  • Cut the middle-man. Sell directly to the customer
  • Sell quality wine for a fraction of the cost from competitors
  • Quarterly wine subscriptions
  • A dedicated wine concierge
  • Text-based “sommelier” service

Empathy Wines experienced early struggles

There were business challenges during Empathy Wine’s first sales. Delayed shipments that shifted shipping and delivery ETAs.

Nate and John struggled with how to best communicate these delays to their customers. Customer service added to their growing task list of building a new brand.

But this didn’t stop them from pushing forward.

They had to adjust.

It was time to add a fourth member to their team.

Enter Nora, their customer service specialist.

Nora addressed customer inquiries. Nate and John managed the daily logistics. Gary offered brand direction.

Empathy Wines had a winning team.

Growing Beyond Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk helped Nate and John position Empathy Wines as an innovative wine service.

But Nate and John explained that Empathy Wines can’t always rely on Gary. Their skills will grow and the brand will evolve to eventually transcend him.

Nate and John are crushing it today but they already have their sights set on Empathy Wine’s future.

What about you?

Will you follow Nate’s and John’s footsteps and put in work to build a profitable business?

If you’re serious about starting your business, then let us help.

Our One Percent Program will teach you everything you need to know about building a million dollar brand.