Most Likelii to Succeed!

Likelii’s Boston leadership group from left to right: Marnie Prince, Creative Director; Eugenia Perelman, CTO; Jason Lee, Director of Sales; Melanie De Carolis, Creative Editor; and Radhika Dutt, CEO.

By Marie Manning  |  What does it takes to turn passion into a viable business?  Why would a successful business woman walk away from a stable corporate career to become an entrepreneur?  Two years ago Radhika Dutt followed her passion and here she shares her experience with an enthusiasm that is contagious.

Two years ago Radhika and her husband, Daniele De Francesco, were relaxing after work with a glass of wine in their Lexington home.  Faced with another ill-fated wine choice, they wondered how they could guaranty that future wine purchases would suit their tastes.  Both MIT Alums, they turned to technology for a solution.  They both took out their laptops and scoured the Internet.  They searched for hours.  Nothing!   The initial disappointment quickly faded as inspiration struck.  Radhika knew she could create program that would revolutionize the industry. 

Radhika became obsessed with developing this niche product.  Supported by her husband and fueled by the encouragement of every wine-lover she consulted, she began networking and assembling a core team.  Her colleagues, located in three countries and four time zones, include technology expert Eugenia Perelman and west coast celebrity sommelier Christopher Sawyer.  Chris is the personal sommelier to many Hollywood stars, the Getty family and even the Gorbachevs in Russia!  Radhika also attracted an interdisciplinary cadre of new media entrepreneurs, web savvy professionals and liquor channel specialists.  Together they helped her create: Likelii.

“Wine. It’s a beverage with one of the shortest ingredient lists out there: basically it’s grape juice + time. It should be so simple, right?” Radhika says simplicity is the philosophy behind Likelli.  Simplicity and fun. The company’s philosophy is decidedly lighthearted and adventurous—wine should be fun, not serious. Choosing wine should be an adventure, not torturous!  Their goal at Likelii is to become your personal sommelier! Over time as you add to your list of preferences, your profile will grow and Likelii’s recommendations expand.  You can save your favorites, share them, rate them and find out where to buy them. The site is not fully functional yet, but it is growing every day.

So how does it work? 

Can you define your wine personality? Do you know if you are a Napa person or a Bordeaux person? Radhika admits that she had no idea until she started to investigate.  Enter your favorite wines into Likelii and compiles the data you enter on the website, which includes what types of wines you already like.  It shows you on a world map that indicates your preferences, recommending specific wines you are likely to enjoy. Think about all the time you will save deliberating at the wine store.  Wine can become quite an investment and what this site offers is a way for users to circumvent disaster and be more “likely” to choose a winner.

Likelii looks forward to growing awareness for boutique vineyards and vintages, virtually unknown to most consumers.  Smaller vintners will be able to reach markets that their budgets previously would not allow.  At this point in time Likelii does not sell wines. It is a source for unbiased recommendations based solely on your profile preferences, creating a dynamic demand-and-supply-paradigm in the marketplace.

For over a year Radhika worked on her Likelii venture while maintaining her full-time day-job and being mother to her young children.  Deciding whether to take the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship was like “the discussions we had when deciding to have another baby!”  Just like raising a young child, creating a company from the ground up takes exorbitant amounts of time, dedication and love!

Radhika left her full-time job spring of 2011 and has not looked back.  She is appreciative of her corporate experience and realizes it helped her develop the skills to become a full-time entrepreneur.  A bit of advice Radhika has for every budding visionary:  “Networking! What I’ve found is that there is such a wealth of resources and people who just want to help you succeed as an entrepreneur.  And in allowing people to be supportive, we were able to find the right people to help us make progress.”  She also encourages new business owners to be persistent, especially when seeking investors, and to not take it personally when someone says, “No.”  Just move on, she recommends. Radhika says the key to achieving your dream is finding something that you are passionate about and that you believe in. 

For Radhika, being an entrepreneur feels natural. “It’s just something that’s in you.  It’s self-driven.  I look at it as pottery; you create something from dirt.  You feel the sense you’ve achieved something, you are working with people you really like, and you have the chance to shape the entire thing.”

Radhika has shaped it well.  She is surrounded by an expert team and has the support of her husband and friends.  And, she has created a brand that is “likelii” to succeed!


Share this: