This past week we had the privilege of meeting and speaking with James Kornacki, CEO, Founder, and “Chief Wine Revolutionary” at Üllo. Üllo is a revolutionary new wine purification product that removes sulfites to restore the wine to its natural, preservative-free state and allowing wine drinkers to experience their wine in it’s purest form. We spoke to James about his sleek and unique invention and here is what he had to say.
Tell us about your business/for purpose organization (how long have you been in business, what is your specialty, products or services, how many employees you have, etc.):
Üllo was founded in the spring of 2014, and currently has three employees but looks to grow now that we’ve successfully exceeded our Kickstarter goal of $100,000.
Üllo is a revolutionary wine technology that allows consumers to selectively remove sulfites from wine. Üllo works as a flow through device; when you pour your wine through, the sulfites are sequestered onto a food grade polymer material that I developed through my work as an organic chemist. Importantly, the polymer filter does not interact with other components of the wine; thus preserving the natural integrity of the wine. In addition to sulfite removal, Üllo has an aeration function giving consumer the option to aerate (or not aerate) wines as they see fit. It also removes sediments from older wines.
I, like most wine lovers I suspect, enjoy having a glass by myself as much as I enjoy serving wine among friends. With that purpose in mind, we’ve designed an elegant handmade carafe and decanter that not only fits perfectly with the Üllo device but also gives wine lovers two beautiful options for serving their wine. Of course, Üllo is designed to sit on top of any wine glass too, so that you can have a single glass any time.
What makes your company/organization leaders in your industry?
We are the first to do this, that is, we’re offering the first product that gives consumers the option to remove sulfite preservatives from their wine. The only option that consumers have at the moment is to add hydrogen peroxide to their wine. This converts the sulfites into sulfuric acid, and has the tendency to oxidize other important wine compounds. I hated that the only way to remove one chemical was to add another. It’s from this irony that Üllo was conceived.
Üllo is the leader because we are the only company that (i) requires no additive to the wine (ii) doesn’t chemically react with the wine and (iii) actually removes sulfites instead of converting them. This allows Üllo to restore wine to the way it was before the artificial sulfites were added, as if you were drinking the wine right at the vineyard. It’s why Üllo is “The Wine Purifier.”
Who or what has influenced you (book, movie, person, other company/for purpose organization)?
The greatest influencers have been the people surrounding me while I was completing my Ph.D. at Northwestern University, particularly through the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship. I saw many faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students taking risks to translate their intellectual curiosities into sustainable businesses. That was especially cool to see in the hard sciences, where we’ve too often been typecast as the dorky introverts. There’s been a kind of entrepreneurial renaissance, and I’m glad to see that it’s being adopted across disciplines.
What key qualities do you look for in your employees/team?
Honestly, the things that I’m not so good at! Starting Üllo has been uniquely introspective. I’ve had to be really honest with myself about my own weaknesses, and then look to others to fill those gaps. I also look generally for exceptionalism. I don’t judge that by your list of accolades, but rather by the extent of your dedication to something that makes you unique. Everyone has the capacity to be exceptional at something.
Words of advice for others growing their business/for purpose organization?
Commit. That’s the hardest part. For me it meant taking advantage of the momentary stability I had in my life toward the end of grad school.
What is your website so people can learn more? (And buy a Üllo)