Bravo! Entrepreneur Award Winners: Richard Yau

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm

Richard Yau

CEO and co-founder

Bright Cellars Inc.


Employees: 40

Since relocating to Milwaukee in 2015, Bright Cellars has hit a growth spurt and captured the attention of local investors in the process. But after the wine subscription startup garnered national-scale investments during a recent equity round, co-founder Richard Yau expects its growth to gain momentum.

Bright Cellars surveys subscribers on their palate and preferences, and uses its algorithm to match them to wines and cheeses they are likely to enjoy.

The company was founded in 2014 by Yau and Joseph Laurendi in Boston, and moved to Milwaukee to take part in the gener8tor startup accelerator. Four years later, it has grown to 40 employees and increased revenue by 1,500%. As of 2018, Bright Cellars had 22,000 subscribers and growing, but Yau declined to disclose current subscriber numbers.

In February, the startup raised an $8.5 million Series A round of funding from investors, led by Washington, D.C.-based Revolution Ventures, which Yau said has a reputation of helping small startups grow into market-leading companies.

“It’s a big milestone for us because we are going from being a strong startup in the Milwaukee community to now having the resources and the guidance to potentially become a market leader in the future,” Yau said.

Bright Cellars is based out of a 5,500-square-foot office in Milwaukee’s Ward4 startup hub, which was established by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s venture capital fund and frequent Bright Cellars investor CSA Partners LLC.

Next, Bright Cellars plans to put more effort toward scaling the business. That includes hiring another 10 employees this year, Yau said.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.