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Amazon killed their wine website. Now the two founders are back with another.

Casemates is launching — from the founder of and Wine.Woot.

A hand pours a bottle of wine into balloon glasses held by another pair of hands. David Silverman / Getty Images
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Call it a second round — with a twist.

Back in 2010, Amazon purchased the wine-selling website Woot.Wine as part of the $110 million acquisition of its parent company,

But at the end of 2017, Amazon shut down Woot.Wine as well as its own wine marketplace in the wake of its purchase of Whole Foods.

Now, the two founders of Wine.Woot — Matt Rutledge and David Studdert — are back with a new online wine venture, attempting to fill the void left behind by those two closures, and trying again to build a robust online marketplace and community connecting wine drinkers as directly as possible with the wineries that make the product.

A few days ago, the duo launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for a new wine-selling venture called Casemates, which allows wine producers to sell directly to U.S. consumers online. On Day 1, the campaign surpassed its $50,000 goal; it sat at $104,000 as of Tuesday morning.

At launch, Casemates will launch new wine deals three days a week at midnight ET — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — with each deal lasting until the new one begins. Shipping will be $8 to $12 per order, though the company offered a year of unlimited shipping to backers on Kickstarter who paid $60.

“We pioneered the winery-direct retail model for wine fans to buy online, from winemakers, with no middlemen,” the campaign page reads. “We created this method — we’re not even a store, the wine you’re buying is sold by the producing winery. So no one’s better positioned than we are to step in and rescue it from extinction like John Hammond with the velociraptors.”

As its name indicates, the site will incentivize wine seekers to buy an entire case by offering them better prices on those orders.

And the founders are hoping that community features that have been integral to some of their past sites — think super-active online forums — will help consumers get to know each other and feel comfortable enough to chip in with those in their geographic vicinity to share the purchase of a case.

To that end, the site will enable features to allow people to split the payment of a single case. And, over time, Casemates will unveil “ways to safely locate Casemates to go in with you.”

Casemates is the latest business launched inside of A Mediocre Corporation, the e-commerce startup incubator Rutledge created after leaving Amazon and, the unabashedly quirky and irreverent deal-a-day site that Amazon gobbled up.

Other Mediocre projects include, which is basically a reincarnation of Woot, and the flash-sale site

“Our overall mission is to eliminate retail middlemen by providing as direct a channel to producers as possible,” Rutledge wrote in a note to Recode, “furthering our apparent demise.”

Rutledge says the primary consumer advantage of buying from a supplier-direct model like Casemates is better prices than you can find at retail. “Discovery and learning is great, too, but secondary,” he said.

Wineries pay Casemates a commission on each sale event, but the promise is better economics than a wholesale relationship with a retailer — and the ability to attract new customers online.

For Rutledge and Studdert, the Kickstarter was intended to suss out whether the model should be resurrected after the Amazon closures.

“We have the funds to do it,” Rutledge said on the first day of the campaign, “but we want to see support for the model.”

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