Mike Asimos (he also goes by Michael) is a Wine Importer, Exporter, and Wholesaler who lives out of Portland, Oregon. He started out his journey into this world as a wine enthusiast, leaving no particular blend behind, and decided to follow his passions wherever they would take him. He mainly works out of the Portland, Oregon area, but also is familiar with the majority of the West Coast wine country as a whole.
When he is not working, which happens to be one of his biggest hobbies anyways, he enjoys traveling and listening to jazz music. His travels are usually confined to areas of the world with lavish wineries and spacious vineyards, but that wont keep him from seeing the world as he wants to.
When it comes to jazz music, Mike Asimos loves everything from the founders of the genre up to the contemporary artists that keep its long-standing tradition going. Outside of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, his favorite jazz musician is Esperanza Spalding, the popular American jazz bassist, cellist, and singer.
Before anything else, Michael Asimos is a wine aficionado with a great pallet and intricate understanding of all the wine the world has to offer!
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Ever since I was of the age to really understand and appreciate wine, I was interested in somehow working with it.
For a while I thought I might try and be a sommelier, or even a Master Sommelier, but I had a broader idea in mind and eventually sought out the process into becoming an importer / exporter.
How do you make money?
I find the best wines and essentially bring them in for different establishments to use and sell to their customers. I make the shopping and buying process simpler, and with my wine expertise I am able to help my customers make the correct picks for their audiences.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It didn’t take me long at all. I am pretty good at what I do and learned from some very smart and experienced people. As long as your passion for the job is there, it doesn’t take very long to get off the ground and start moving.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I can honestly say that moment never occurred for me. I’ve heard of famous musicians getting tattoos all over their bodies before they became famous, so they had no choice but to pursue that dream of theirs. I found comfort in that, and was so determined to make this dream of mine a reality that I made it my life, and because of that I would never be able to go back to before. In order to be successful, from my estimation, there is little room for doubt in your mind.
How did you get your first customer?
Just going around and making the right connections in the area. I already knew some good places to start so it wasn’t a rough ride by any means.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Being confident and bold is a pretty useful strategy in this industry. You have to be confident in your abilities and expertise in understanding wine. Also, being able to buy wine and then sell it to vendors requires you to be bold, which is a quality all sales type people should have anyways.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Where my next stop in the world of wine would take me! I have been to plenty of amazing vineyards and wineries, but there are still some across the pond that I am very eager to check out.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
It is 99% because of the fact that I have always been passionate about wine. I don’t want to go into the realm of obsessive, but I’ve seen Sideways more times than the average person I’m sure. But really, when you care about something and make it your hobby, that’s one thing, but when you decide to make it your life and career, it takes on a whole other form of its own. You have to focus solely on that one thing, which is the way it is when starting any type of entrepreneurial venture, but it is made a lot easier when you care a great amount for the subject you are spending your time on. The other 1% is probably everything else, whether it is salesmanship or hard work etc.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I think any time I am able to pair someone up with the right types of wine and then hear back from them with a really positive response, I get pretty happy.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Just going to continue doing the same things I’ve been doing! I am excited to see what types of new imports are coming my way, as many wine importer / exporters do!
What business books have inspired you?
This may be cliché, but I really enjoyed reading “What to Drink with What You Eat” by Andre Dornenburg. It wasn’t what necessarily inspired me to continue working in my field by any means, but I think it has inspired a lot of wine enthusiasts and is heralded at a pretty high standard.
Favorite place to travel to?
I love Europe and all the amazing wineries over there, but when I want to simply get away, I enjoy going to Santa Barbara, California. It is a quiet beach town with some really great wineries around the way. I don’t know why, but every time I visit I feel a calming sense of self. The Santa Barbara pier is a place I specifically like to sit and almost meditate. I don’t mind the long drive either, in fact that may even be part of the wonderful experience because the coastline is so serene. I’ve been to many places in my life, and I don’t know why I choose a place so close to home every time, but I just love Santa Barbara.