8 min 9 sec

Craft Beer Fan Becomes Digital Bouncer

A Starbucks employee with a love for Pacific Northwest beer stumbles upon a profitable endeavor helping breweries become compliant with website age verification.
Alcohol Coding Niche Ideas SAAS Web Development

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What It's About

A resourceful Starbucks employee picks up a new skill and breaks into the alcohol industry.

Business Model
Skills Required
Developer & Resourcefulness
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Gregg has generally brought in business through word of mouth, customer referrals and prime search engine results. He says he has strived to go out of his way to provide each client with an exceptional customer service experience—which often results in clients sticking with him for the long term.

Good customer service is especially important when you're building a brand and/or breaking into a new industry like Gregg. Happy customers are more likely to bring you in additional business and help you make useful connections, so don't be afraid to go that extra step!

Fun Fact

Did you know that people were drinking beer 5,000 years ago? For those (Sumerians) lucky enough to live in Mesopotamia in 10,000 BCE (it's located around where Iraq is today), there was beer to drink! None of the beer included hops, which means it probably didn't taste that good, but according to LiveScience.com, people had their pick of eight different barley-based beers, and eight wheat-based. (1)

Notes from Chris

Episode 226
Gregg Richter was working for Starbucks as an IT specialist at their Seattle headquarters, where he had been employed for almost a decade. Though he loved the company, he had grown bored of his position and department. His daily routine consisted half of attending meetings and half of responding to issues that arose. He was able to spend very little time thinking about product enhancements, and he began to crave something different.

Around the same time, Gregg was also making a hobby out of finding new breweries and distilleries in the area, as craft beers and whiskeys were a booming business in the Pacific Northwest.

Since his two great interests were craft beer and web development, he mentioned them both when advertising his services through his personal portfolio website. Unexpectedly, this led to his big break.

He realized that despite the rise of do-it-yourself websites such as Squarespace, there were technical areas that were beyond the reach of the average DIY-er, especially in businesses like alcohol distribution that have unique challenges and legal requirements. He officially established his side hustle—called Imbibe Digital, LLC—to build websites and web service applications.

Gregg’s business did so well that he was able to leave his job in 2015 to focus exclusively on Imbibe. In 2016, he cracked six figures. This year, he’s on track to make $120,000 to $130,000.


  • Imbibe Digital, LLC: Learn more about Gregg's digital bouncing service on his website!
  • Elysian Brewing: The local and fast-growing brewery that was looking for a freelance developer to help with their website and gave Gregg his big break
  • Guinness & Bacardi: Two additional household brands that utilize Gregg's age verifying service
  • Wordpress: Gregg says he used Wordpress to create his website because it allowed him full control of every pixel on the screen and also made it easy to find assistance since WordPress is completely open source. And here you can learn how to install your own Wordpress site in 5 minutes!
  • LocalSip: The second SAAS-based product that Gregg created that allows breweries and wineries to easily create, edit and display their tap or wine lists online

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Look for a problem to solve, or find something that someone else is doing, and find a way to improve on it. Does their product lack good design; do they have bad user onboarding; are they missing a key feature? Find something and then consistently iterate on the product."
—Gregg Richter #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau