BlackSquare Inc.

Strategy & Innovation Superstar

Location Calgary Owners Matthew Protti and David Gluzman
Employees 10 Founded 2009

★ The Business

Sometimes, one business idea begets another. That’s what happened to Matthew Protti, the owner of Calgary’s BlackSquare Inc. Protti got started in the wine business by creating Wine Collective, an online wine club that he still runs that offers subscribers access to a curated selection of wine at a considerable discount to retail. He also runs Tannic.ca, a wine-focused flash sale website. But he quickly realized that the real money lay in the software he was using to build those businesses, and developed Blackboxx, an e-commerce solution for the wine and spirits industry that he thinks is the best in Canada – and maybe even the world.

★ The Case

When the federal government passed Bill C-311 earlier this year, it effectively repealed a prohibition-era federal law that disallowed the inter-provincial trade of wine and spirits. Matthew Protti was ready. “This is the kind of thing that comes along once in a generation,” he says. “It’s completely changing the way the industry works. The walls have come down and people are trying to figure out what it means.” What it means for his business is that more people are going to want to buy his software, which allows retailers, winemakers and distributors alike the chance to sell their product directly to customers. For winemakers, the appeal is simple: selling directly increases their margins and gives them access to customer data that they didn’t have before. Retailers can also benefit from Blackboxx, because it allows them to sell to customers who aren’t in their geo-graphic area. Best of all, since they’re effectively renting the software, it costs a fraction of what it would to build out a standalone e-commerce site. The bottom line, Protti says, is that selling wine online is an idea whose time has come. “People like to transact online,” he says. “The idea is solid, and the Canadian market is right for it.”

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