John Keleher, Founder
In June 2012 I decided it was time for a change. For seven years, I’d found major success building web-based businesses in Washington DC, co-founding two companies in that time: Benton Consulting, where our clients included high-profile entities like the World Bank; and ARMS College Athletics Software, where I led a 300% growth in three years before being acquired. However, despite my success, I was in search of more than the fast-paced city life. I wanted a rural, hands-on, self-sufficient lifestyle. I wanted to grow my own food, build things, and be part of a smaller more intimate community. So, like the pioneering homesteaders of old, I moved west to Mendocino County, CA where I grow and cook my own food, live healthier, and – it’s also worth mentioning – drink some excellent wine.
In time I found that while you can take the boy out of the business, you can’t take the business out of the boy. I became eager to find ways to use my skills and experience in entrepreneurial enterprise to contribute to my new community. Following a six-month internship with world-renowned agriculturalist John Jeavons, I started a business growing and selling market greens. Seeing that the area was, for many, a great place to live but a tough place to make a living, I also began consulting with small local businesses – especially wineries. I helped them organize and build financial and data systems to vastly improve their record keeping and sales. I found purpose in helping small business owners and wanted to help more.
The Story of Community Benchmark
All of which brings me to my newest venture, Community Benchmark. Over the last few years, I’ve talked with many winery entrepreneurs, and honed in on areas of sales where marked improvement can be attained with better-kept, creatively-utilized, and shared data, starting in the tasting rooms.
Right now, Community Benchmark uses proprietary algorithms to measure the relative success of tasting rooms within a geographic area, and, through a private website, anonymously shares personalized, actionable metrics for each winery’s benefit. In this way, Community Benchmark guarantees individual wineries will discover new growth opportunities to increase sales.
The business of operating a winery presents one of the great double-edged endeavors of American entrepreneurial life. The promise: come to the country, get close to the land, live the good life, and make something people all over the world love. But there is also the challenge: making money in the winery business can be a painstaking task. Proving the adage that a rising tide lifts all boats, Community Benchmark provides wineries with a refined layer of pooled data to give you exclusive insight into your business.