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Yao Ming close to $3m crowd funding for wine company

By ZHENG XIN in New York (China Daily USA)

Updated: 2015-05-07 11:23:40


Yao Ming close to $3m crowd funding for wine company

Yao Ming Family Wines are on display during the barrel auction event of Auction Napa Valley at Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena, California, on May 31, 2013.  [Photo/IC]

Former National Basketball Association star Yao Ming is within reach of his goal to get $3 million from crowd funding to expand his wine business.

Napa Valley's Yao Family Wines started the campaign to expand his wine business on March 2, including the building of a visitor center in Napa Valley and a tasting room in Yao's hometown of Shanghai.

As of Wednesday, Yao had commitments for more than $2.77 million, 93 percent of his goal, according to Crowdfunder, the website used by entrepreneurs to get public funding.

"Yao sees a good shot at his crowd funding goal of $3 million," said Dong Guanghua, group account director of New York-based global market-research firm Millward Brown. "The chances are as good as his impressive free-throw percentage." Among players with at least 1,000 free throws made, the 7-foot-6 center, Yao ranked second among 7-footers with an 83.3 percentage.

Jay Behmke, managing director at Yao Family Wines, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying the company was prepared to increase the offering to $5 million if investors showed strong interest.

Yao Family Wine said only US citizens and permanent residents can participate in the fund-raising effort. Depending on the size of their financial pledge, which ranges from $5,000 to $25,000, investors will be given admission to exclusive events and private dinners.

Yao co-founded the winery in 2011 and sold more than $8 million of its wine in its first 39 months.

Dong said Beijing's anti-corruption campaign and the cooling down of China's luxury wine market has led to Yao Family Wine, the biggest seller of high-end Californian wine in China, to shift its attention to the US market.

"Beijing's anti-corruption campaign has sapped demand for expensive wines, especially for those pricing over 1,000 yuan ($161), and Yao Family Wine, targeting mostly the business banquets, has to shift its focus from the Chinese banquet tables to overseas market," he said.

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