A new social media app is bringing together China’s growing number of wine enthusiasts.
Hesha, which loosely means “what to drink,” functions as a social network for China’s 130 million wine drinkers. The Shenzhen-based startup just released the latest version of its app, which allows users to find friends and dates based on mutual interests in alcoholic beverages. Though Hesha mostly focuses on wine, it also covers whiskey, Chinese baiju, and cognac, among other drinks.
The new version of Hesha is now available for download on iOs, and the Android version is forthcoming.
Hesha started out as a barcode scanner app and database that allowed users to access information about particular wines, such as real-time prices, reviews, and links to e-retailers like Tmall and Taobao where the wines may be purchased. When that failed to attract much attention, a social media component was added, which allows users to post photos and status updates and alerts them to local tastings and related events. However, the database and scanning functions are still included, and can currently recognize 41,000 bottles of wine. Users can also post a wine’s profile on their wall to ask for recommendations from their friends.
“Our barcode scanner recognizes a majority of wines available in China,” Handon Hu, Hesha’s founder, tells TechInAsia.com. “If a barcode is not yet in our database, our artificial intelligence service can help locate the wine and its relevant online links and prices.”
Hu modeled Hesha after Momo, an interest-based meet-up social media app which claims to be the third largest in China with 60 million active users and recently filed for a US$300 million IPO. Like Momo, Hesha “definitely leads toward the dating genre,” but fosters closer connections than its predecessor because users already start off on the common ground of their favorite beverages. The site’s users are currently about half male and half female.
Right now, there is no charge for the app, but the startup is considering opening Hesha up as an advertising platform for wine vendors.
The app “looks well-positioned at the crossroads of two intoxicating markets,” as Chinese wine e-tailer Jiuxian raised two funding rounds worth US$70 million and US$49 million this year and Momo hopes to raise US$300 million in its upcoming IPO. Entry level bottles are also becoming more popular than more expensive wines in China, making market entry easier.
“We target to achieve one million users by mid 2015,” Hu says.
image credit: flickr/mrtindc, hesha