It began as good ideas often do—after several glasses of wine.
As Danilo Di Salvo and Anzor Mantskava sat in Anzor’s living room, sharing a few bottles of Georgian wine, a new business idea emerged: what if they could share this unique but little-known wine with the UK market?
The pair had met just a few weeks prior, through the Full-time MBA program at Warwick Business School.
“We were both staying nearby in Leamington spa, and met on the bus on the way to the university,” Danilo recalls.
They began chatting, and Anzor mentioned that he was from Georgia—the birthplace of wine making. Like most UK residents, Danilo was unfamiliar with Georgia’s 8,000 year old wine culture, so as his friendship with Anzor developed, he leapt at the offer to sample some.
From the first sip, he was a convert.
“It was as if my whole life I’d been drinking orange squash, and suddenly I was trying freshly squeezed juice,” he explains with a laugh.
Today, Danilo and Anzor are injecting new energy into the UK’s ancient wine market, by importing quality Georgian wine with their business, Gvino UK.
Danilo didn’t plan to launch a business when he enrolled at Warwick. An engineer by training, he began his career with Rolls-Royce, progressing to a project management role with their aerospace programs.
As his managerial responsibilities grew, he felt the need to take a step back, and develop his broader business knowledge along with crucial leadership skills.
Anzor, meanwhile, had a few entrepreneurial ventures under his belt before he came to Warwick. While working with TBC—Georgia’s largest bank—as head of operational risk management, he founded a few local businesses, including a coffee shop and an olive importer.
Hoping to take a step back from a hectic career and consider his next professional move, he chose to enroll in an MBA.
Anzor and Danilo chose Warwick for the same reasons: its prestigious reputation, consistently ranked in the Financial Times’ top 50 MBA programs, friendly culture, and diverse cohort.
Traditional Georgian winemaking involves large clay qvevri © Levan Totosashvili under this license
Despite its humble origins in Anzor’s living room, Gvino quickly morphed into a full-fledged business plan with the support of the Warwick MBA.
One assignment, for an entrepreneurship module, required students to write their own business plan, and Danilo decided to flesh out the idea for a Georgian wine import company.
“His plan was so well-researched that our professor thought I had written it,” comments Anzor—the only Georgian member of his cohort. “I decided we had to go ahead with the business plan.”
Danilo and Anzor soon got to work refining their business idea. Introducing a relatively unknown product to a crowded market, and persuading skeptics to give Georgian wine a try, was the first hurdle.
Fortunately, case studies and speakers at Warwick helped the pair carve out their niche.
“Our entrepreneurship professor brought in lots of business owners who had been successful and who had failed,” Danilo explains. “We got to ask them some quite personal questions.”
The case studies they tackled were equally enlightening—especially a study that focused on quirky UK smoothie maker, Innocent Smoothies.
“That really taught us how successful you can be by staying authentic to yourself and your business,” notes Danilo.
He and Anzor’s mission is to share Georgia’s lively food and drink culture with the world. As Anzor puts it, they “don’t sell bottles of wine, but bottles of experience.”
In line with this mission, Gvino is very selective when it comes to sourcing their wine. Only high quality vineyards, using traditional Georgian winemaking methods, are selected.
Georgian winemaking at its heart is small-scale, low intervention, and sustainable, and these are the qualities Anzor and Danilo look for in the vineyards they partner with.
By negotiating exclusivity with these vineyards, they ensure consistent supply and quality for the end customer, while building strong relationships with the winemakers.
Connections for success
Throughout their journey with Gvino, the relationships Anzor and Danilo built through the Warwick MBA have been hugely valuable.
During the program, career coaches offered an expert sounding board—and today a certain career coach is one of their best customers, Danilo jokes.
Gvino also tapped into the Warwick network more recently, hiring a fellow alumna to assist with their sales and marketing efforts as the business grows.
The most important connection, however, has been with each other.
“If you have a good partner in business, it changes everything,” Anzor comments. “Danilo is a fantastic partner, and I was lucky to be introduced to him.”
Since its launch in 2015, Gvino has gone from strength to strength. Sales are steadily growing, and Danilo and Anzor have received positive feedback at several UK wine festivals.
In the near future, they have big plans for Gvino, including overseas franchises and a brick-and-mortar wine bar in London. Although coronavirus has put these plans on hold for now, they are bringing the wine bar experience into UK kitchens through online tasting sessions.
Whatever direction Gvino takes, the Warwick MBA was instrumental in its creation, Danilo believes.
“Looking back, we probably wouldn’t have started Gvino without that entrepreneurship module,” he reflects.
Warwick Business School
BSc Management with Marketing
I loved Warwick business school. The staff is supportive, my academic tutor was key in my development throughout the 3 years and you have to meet with her/him every term. Most professors are helpful and would happily offer support if needed. You also have office hours and can contact professors by email and through the forum. In general, WBS instills in you the willingness to learn and the resilience needed for you for whatever career you choose. Very international community which broadens your horizon and makes you more open minded and self aware. You will most certainly make friends and memories for life. I recommend that you get outside of your comfort zone and try new activities with your friends! WBS also has a great reputation and offers careers opportunities, and careers support throughout the degree. There is the opportunity to do a year abroad to further develop on a personal level. I wasn’t able to do this due to Covid but I would have loved to do it during normal circumstances! Would definitely recommend this. Although Warwick is not a city university, the campus vibe has a lot of advantages, especially at an undergraduate level. You are always around familiar faces, and in a student environment. Moreover, Birmingham is only 20 mins away from Leamington spa and London is only one hour away! Perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway!
Life at Warwick Business School
Pursuing my master's degree at WBS has been a game-changer in my life. With high-quality education, interaction with students from across the world, amazing campus life and much more. I was able to learn about business, finance, project management and strategy all in one course: MSc in Management at WBS. Besides the top-notch education from the best professors, I also enjoyed being a part of fun societies and participating in fun activities such as scavenger hunts and so much more. The school also organises many company visits and interactions which help students get a head start at finding a job. As my course came to an end, I also have a good full-time job placement in my hands. Overall, my experience at WBS was a great one.
The Warwick Business School was like a dream come to life for me. The University ranking speaks for itself, from top-tier facilities to some of the best professors I had to honour to study with I fell in love with my course. Interactions with people from all over the world gave me a newfound confidence in myself. Career prospects after graduating are endless due to the contacts of the universities and the success rate for previous students, it does open a lot of doors for students in various career fields. The campus life is quite good as well with a lot of student groups and clubs, and extra circular activities to engage students at all times. Loved my experience.
A good business school
It is a very cutting-edge, career-oriented business school, all courses are very practical, and the college does a very good job of career service. From the hardware and facilities to the staff, the student experience is at the core of the school and student satisfaction is taken very seriously. I understand that many universities in the UK are relatively traditional and can occasionally be rigid in terms of rules and regulations, and although WBS has a relatively short history, this makes it more innovative and dynamic, which is essential for a business school. The downside is that because it is on the outskirts of Coventry, it is a long bus ride to the city centre, not to mention the difference in experience from a big city like London.
The people, campus, staff. It’s a very enjoyable environment and it’s particularly good for learning and playing sports. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming and it’s very easy to make friends
What I Like About Warwick
I’ve personally liked my experience at Warwick so far because of the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet and how many opportunities we students are provided with to learn and grow. Within Warwick, I’m part of the Business School, a learning haven comprised of well-structured modules and extremely helpful people All in all, a great place to be :)
One thing that stood out for me was the campus life, you felt like part of a community. The social aspects of the student union and on-campus accommodation meant you can easily get together and enjoy with friends. Additionally, I felt the course provided a variety of subjects allowing me to enhance my knowledge, from Marketing to Law and Finance. Overall I would most definitely recommend this university to friends and family.
Excellence self catered
The campus is very welcoming and Modern. There are many opportunities at Warwick but it is up to the student how do they want to make the most out of it and the staff at the school will definitely helo as much as possible. The location and the ranking have been amazing.
Warwick business school
Warwick business school is one of the best universities around the globe with a solid base of economic and business studies. Moreover, students get a chance to study in a diverse and warm environment with professional stuff which tries to provide the best opportunities for career development. One of the memorable features of the university are great events which sometimes take a place in one of the landmarks of the London city, the Shard building.