The Social Media App for Wine Enthusiasts With Jeff Gillis of Winelikes

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Nov 23, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

The Social Media App for Wine Enthusiasts With Jeff Gillis of Winelikes

Last Updated on November 23, 2023 by nicole

Jeff Gillis Winelikes
The Social Media App for Wine Enthusiasts With Jeff Gillis of Winelikes 11

Meet Jeff Gillis, the Founder and CEO of Winelikes. With an MBA in entrepreneurship and a background in hospitality, Jeff brings a unique blend of expertise to the wine community.

Winelikes is his brainchild, a social media app designed to engage wine novices in a friendly, community-driven space.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Discover the inspiration behind Winelikes and how it aims to be your friendly wine companion
  • Gain insights into the process of creating, producing, and launching an app
  • Uncover the strategies employed to build a social media platform when there’s no user base on day one
  • Explore the onboarding experience and taste profile creation
  • Understand the technology behind predicting user preferences and how it enhances the app’s consumer experience
  • Learn about the monetization strategy, partnerships with wineries, and potential collaborations with other businesses
  • Explore the analytics and insights available to businesses using Winelikes
  • Learn about Winelikes’ plan to maintain credibility through verification and community moderation
  • Jeff discusses the roadmap for incorporating hospitality into the app experience
  • Jeff shares tips on managing a family, a job, and entrepreneurial ventures
  • Uncover the lessons learned and adaptations made during the tech life cycle of the app

In this episode with Jeff Gillis

Join us as we explore Winelikes, the revolutionary and unique social media app dedicated entirely to the world of wine.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks is joined by Jeff Gillis, Founder and CEO of Winelikes. Jeff shares the inspiration behind creating a platform that is so convenient and interactive, it would feel like a friend recommending that perfect bottle of wine to you. Discover the challenges of developing an app, the art of building a community from scratch, and the innovative taste profiling that sets Winelikes apart. Jeff also unveils the roadmap for e-commerce integration, insights for businesses, and the exciting future of infusing hospitality into the Winelikes experience. Whether you’re a wine lover, tech enthusiast, or aspiring entrepreneur, this episode offers a sip of wisdom and a glimpse into the evolving Winelikes.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On this show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today’s show is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we help the wine and craft industry build stronger bonds between their customers and brands through authentic content.

Go to today to learn more. I am super excited today to talk with Jeff Gillis. Jeff’s the Founder and CEO of Winelikes. Now Winelikes is a social media platform dedicated to the love of wine. Jeff, welcome to the show.

[00:00:31] Jeff Gillis: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Drew.

[00:00:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, thank you for being on.

So Jeff, before we get into your history and your story, give our listeners a little idea of what Winelikes is.

[00:00:41] Jeff Gillis: Definitely, I think, like you explained, it’s a social media app all about wine. We like to say in our offices, if Instagram and Vivino had a baby, it would be Winelikes. We really want to get the wine novice involved, and where do you start?

You know, there’s so many options out there, and you usually start by talking to your friends, and that’s what we hope, the Winelikes community is. Just want to be a friend suggesting a great bottle of wine.

[00:01:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, yeah, no, that’s a that’s a great idea. Now, where did this inspiration come from? Like, you’re missing out like Instagram was just too cluttered with non-wine stuff. And Vivino didn’t really have that social aspect. Is that

[00:01:18] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, I think you nailed it. But really I’m a summary. I have some friends who are and you know, we were just sitting around and we always get advice. What should I try? What should I have? And we’re like There’s gotta be a better way to bridge the gap between the people who don’t really know about wine to those who love bad wine and where you are on those wine apps is okay.

Where do you start, you know, with some of the wine apps, you already have a bottle in your hand, but if you don’t know what you’re drinking, you know, and we actually started this, we thought of a dating app, like, “Hey, you like Merlot. I like Merlot. Let’s meet up at a restaurant.” So that’s where we’re like, okay, where do you go from the best advice in your life, your family and friends? So like, why wouldn’t you go there for wine? And instead of reading off these reviews on some wine apps, like I don’t know who this person is behind the wall. I don’t know if it’s a paid bot. Just to promote the wine. I want to see someone I trust. And I know my peers. And that’s where it really began.

[00:02:25] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s interesting. Now, let’s give us, I mean, I have not created an app. Talk to us about what it takes to actually get an app created, produced, and put up on the App Store.

[00:02:36] Jeff Gillis: I mean, I don’t want to be a pro-business and pro-everything, but it’s, you need a lot of patience and it is not fun. I am, we are not developers ourselves.

We’re a team of not tech people at all. So we hired, we outsourced it, and it is just aggravating, especially, we are worldwide,

[00:03:01] Jeff Gillis: because as you know, wine is worldwide. We are in both the App Store and the Google Store. And just with Apple, it’s really tricky to launch an app, there’s a couple of things, I mean, with all of the rules and laws, but just how they want certain things.

So, you always have to keep updating so a long time. So, I’ll give you an example. We started this app in 2019, so it took years to develop and to launch, and we just launched in May.

[00:03:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, wow. So it’s, it’s brand new.

[00:03:34] Jeff Gillis: It’s brand new. Yeah. So, and it takes a long time. So, like I said, if you have patience, do it, if you have.

It’s a lot of fun, but it’s very aggravating. You will want to throw your phone to against the wall many times because, A, you can’t control technology. And when you think you fix a bug, two more bugs arrives. So just constantly checking it, constantly updating it. And so

[00:04:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What was one of the biggest hurdles that you had to overcome over the last, you know, well, almost four years?

[00:04:13] Jeff Gillis: I think with us dealing with COVID is in hiring out, side of the company is just all of these other companies we’re seeing people leaving and jumping ship, going to higher paid jobs. So we ran into issues like, you know, we went through the company we hired, we went through four project managers, two different development teams.

So it, and that’s what took so long. So I think it was just, that was the biggest aggravation on our part.

[00:04:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. No, I can definitely commiserate with that being a developing websites and marketing, project management, finding the key project management that really guarantees the success of the project.

[00:04:57] Jeff Gillis: It really does. It really does.

[00:04:59] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now you have a, you have an MBA in entrepreneurship and I do as well. Talk to us about that. And what sort of, how did that help you make the transition from like hospitality into actually being a founder of an app?

[00:05:13] Jeff Gillis: I joke, I, and I won’t tell my kids that, this, but it doesn’t. It’s funny because I probably, like you, got an MBA before the internet.

[00:05:25] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, well, there was, it was the internet. It was like 2000 when I got mine.

[00:05:29] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, it’s me too, but it’s very irrelevant. But I think more my background is, and some of us in the office is, my undergraduate is in hospitality, Hotel Restaurant Management, and I used to be in restaurants and hotels.

And so there is a lack of restaurants and hotels, I think, on wine apps or social media in general. And it’s like, where do you go to try wine or you’re usually going out for dinner. So how do you encompass, especially being a small business, and if you know anything about the restaurant business, it’s the profits are pennies.

[00:06:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah.

[00:06:10] Jeff Gillis: Pennies. And it’s like, where do you strive to go get more guests? And yes, you can do all of the internet, social paid media, and all of that. But you know, our app, we’re trying to incorporate the restaurants to have a meet-up aspect where, “Hey, you know, you like all this bottle of wine. It’s down the street at Bistro XYZ. Check it out.”

So, yes, I’m thankful for my MBA, especially on the accounting side, where, you know, learning all about that, the balancing and all of that. But honestly, I always tell people, get real life experience.

[00:06:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I do have to say, it’s the accounting and finance. Because I majored in philosophy, so I had no business background, even though I kind of run a company before the MBA.

But it was really the nuts and bolts stuff that I think, as a liberal arts major, that I needed to get from there. So you talked about the restaurants and getting guests. And one of my biggest questions, how do you build a social media platform from scratch when there’s no one in the platform on day one?

[00:07:16] Jeff Gillis: You, A, start to market. We’ve done beta testing, but that wasn’t successful just because again, with developing an app and launching an app, there’s many hurdles that you need to go through with Apple. Google Android is a lot easier to beta test. But that’s just okay.

We started going out to wine bars and talking to wine bars and say, “Hey, can we do a little example? Can we buy people some wine?” And you know, show up. So we just started going to local businesses to promote local businesses to get users. And eventually, obviously, because of social media, and where social media is interesting enough, you have to go to all the other social media apps to market your app.

We have not done so yet. We still have some work to work out and then we will start doing that and doing the paid socials and then, you know, that influencer marketing. But it’s really, hopefully you rely on your friends and to help you out, you create what’s called dummy accounts and make up fake people to do postings and to get them all.

[00:08:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Just kind of. Kind of charge it up a little bit at the beginning. Yeah. So, I just, when I downloaded the app, I went through the full like kind of onboarding experience and you’ve got one of the classic kind of taste profiles where you do the coffee and do the chocolate. Talk to us about that. How did you go about making it unique? And what technology do you use to actually create a prediction based on that?

[00:08:53] Jeff Gillis: So one is we felt we needed that because every Wine app usually has that, makes it fun. If you notice, we’re kind of comedic about it, and we kind of poke fun in it when you read the text, you know, of everything.

And the, what we really wanted is in our research and doing our market research is, you know, the ones out there on the market usually just show, okay, the main wines like Cabernet, you like Cabernet, you like Pinot, we loaded over, I think we have over 65 varietals.

[00:09:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I know it’s told me I like. Silvaner, which is very good.

[00:09:36] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, that’s the thing is, and that’s what, A, wine is worldwide.

And you, you’ll never learn about that. And hopefully, your shop will carry one, but that’s what we wanted to show is that it’s not just an AI or an algorithm showing you, okay, buy this supermarket Pinot Noir or something. We want to show you that there’s so many varietals and if you don’t like one wine, you might like something different and so try it, you know, it’s just trying is the spice of life we like to say.

So, we just, that’s just back end creating Excel sheets and Excel sheets and building our own. We have our own API for that.

[00:10:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay. Now, how do you use that? Yeah. Currently, how’s the app using that sort of consumer case?

[00:10:24] Jeff Gillis: So if you go, we have a food and beverage pairing, so you can put

[00:10:31] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I want to ask about that. Perfect transition.

[00:10:33] Jeff Gillis: Yeah. And so how we did it is depending on what you’re cooking, you’ll get three choices. You’ll get five-star rated, and this is all from the Winelikes community. So this isn’t from, you know, an outsourced or a bot saying, okay, you’re going to like these wines. This is, “Hey. Jim over there, Drew over there just had XYZ Pinot Noir. He rated it five stars. It’s 5 dollars and he had it with salmon and you’re cooking salmon. So try this.”

So we have five-star rated wines and that’s the Wine Likers community. That’s someone like you that thinks this wine is worth five stars. We then have 21 and under. For the budget-friendly, so to it will show you wines that are 21 and under and not to you again.

It’s a crowd-sourced community, crowd source app where you’re putting in the wine prices or we pull. We do have a wine API that we pull from or there’s another section called pick for you so that when you fill out your palate wizard, it will then pick you wines that you’re supposed to. If it says you’re going to like Pinot Noir, and if it knows that salmon is paired with Pinot Noir, it’s going to pull that information and say, all right, try this Pinot Noir.

And then you can read the review. And what we love is you can add it to your wine cellar. So now what that does is that’s basically your favorites. And so you can go into a wine shop or wherever you buy wine and you can go on the app and hit on your wine cellar and see all of the wines you’ve selected that, oh, I wanna try these.

[00:12:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, okay.

[00:12:11] Jeff Gillis: So it’s easy.

[00:12:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now, currently you’re not connected with e-commerce. Is that something that, is there a roadmap for that?

[00:12:18] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, obviously, that’s how we are going to monetize the app. We do not want to sell any wine at all on the app. But right now paywalls are down. So we haven’t reached out to wineries yet.

Like I said, we launched in May, we’re still going through some beta. So we have roughly about a little under 500 users there on the app. So once we start advertising, and once we gain probably a couple of thousand users then well to the wineries and anyone who has a wine shop or just wine business or not even in the wine businesses, Nike comes and says, I want to sell shoes and have a paid ad. We’re not going to say no to that. And so that will be the e-commerce aspect.

What’s fun is, or what’s neat is, yes, it’s really for wineries to connect. And what will happen is, hey, if you follow Pinot Noir or you post and have Pinot Noir, we have that data. So we can go to a winery and say, “Hey, on this platform we have 2, 500 users who love Pinot Noir. If you have any inventory of leftover Pinot Noir, you can do a targeted ad.”

[00:13:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure. Okay.

[00:13:32] Jeff Gillis: Choose for that too. And then it will be like, “Hey, go check out X, Y, Z winery, click on this link, and then it will take you to their website or wherever platform they use.”

[00:13:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay. That’s interesting. Cause that, yeah, when you, when you go to register on the app, it asks you, are you a business or is this personal? I didn’t go, I didn’t go the business route. I did the personal one. So the business one then allows the businesses to interact with their customers.

[00:13:59] Jeff Gillis: It does. And, what’s nice about our app that, businesses would like that you don’t get on other social media apps, you cannot interact with customers or users.

So if you’re a business and you’re registered on like Instagram, you can’t contact me and say, “Hey, check my business out.” In our app, you can. So we hope to promote wineries reaching out. And we know that wine clubs would be really interested because we can, they can do an ad and it can show up in your inbox on the app saying, “Hey, I noticed you like Cabernet, you know, we have a sale right now going on with the 2019 Cabernet. So check us out.”

[00:14:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, okay. Now what sort of like, give us an idea, like for businesses, like what sort of analytics they get or insights they can get on the, kind of the, their user base.

[00:14:51] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, definitely. When they subscribe or do an ad, we’ll give them all of the information.

We’ll let them know, when they reach out, “Hey, I want to do an ad on Cabernet.”

We’ll tell them exactly. These are how many users that, you know, like Cabernet or have an interest in Cabernet.

If you know, XYZ winery comes to us, we can say, look, by the way, these specific users have already posted about XYZ winery. So they’re already drinking your wine. You know, cross-reference them and see if they’re wine club members. If not, reach out and maybe you can get them to buy more wine or better yet, become a wine club member. So, all the statistics they want, of the breakdowns that we have.

[00:15:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s really interesting. On the, so when the wineries are interacting with the customers, in an ideal world, what sort of, what sort of feedback have you gotten so far on this app since May?

[00:15:49] Jeff Gillis: With that, we haven’t honestly started. We’ve,

[00:15:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Let’s just have general customer base.

[00:15:53] Jeff Gillis: Customer base. They’re loving it. They’re loving the features. And all that it’s fun. I mean, I’m sure they’re enjoying that there’s not much noise. But more importantly, that they can actually follow people or see their friends, you know, on the social media sites now.

And one of the reasons why we started this is I can’t even see my friends anymore. There’s so noise there. There’s so much AI involved and we’re honestly AI free. I’d like to.

[00:16:26] Drew Thomas Hendricks: AI-free, human-driven.

[00:16:28] Jeff Gillis: Yes, exactly. It’s, you know, like I said, mentioned before, it’s crowdsourced. So you’re actually talking to real people and seeing what they’re doing and what we like to say in their wine journey.

[00:16:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s good. No. And today’s with all the chat GPT and all the, everything we’re hearing about today’s AI, AI, AI. It’s, it’s nice. It’s a fresh to hear somebody that’s, you know, just bringing a community back.

[00:16:51] Jeff Gillis: Yes, I think so. And I think what we’ve noticed, it’s so fragmented like you have all these groups on Facebook, and then you have some on Instagram, now Threads, and then you have the TikTok.

And it’s like, where can you go just to, A, see everyone, see what they’re doing, see like I said, their wine journey, and all in one place. And that’s what we hope to do. And you don’t have that where you said, on the wine apps, and as well as like I said, where you, where do you go to enjoy wine? And I always tell my friends, which is a big thing is, you know, there’s tons as you know, wine events and how do you find them?

And like I tell people, you know, your supermarket does do tasting sometimes or your wine shop does do tastings, you know, and they’re usually free or very low cost. And so we do have, we’re doing a feature it’s wine events and tastings where any businesses can put where they’re trying their wine and tasting the wine.

[00:17:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, that’s interesting. Yeah. So an event event thing and talking about engagement and events, you’ve got something that I don’t quite understand. Unique Challenges is what you’ve got on your talk. Talk about these Unique Challenges and how it’s a, sounds like a fascinating engagement tool.

[00:18:05] Jeff Gillis: So to our demographic or our main demographic, we want to 25 to 45. And when we were thinking about doing this app and all the research, it is, you know, that kind of, oh, I like points. I like world, let’s try to do the treasure hunt. And I want, learn about stuff. So we do have daily. I wouldn’t say daily. We have quizzes where you can take, they’re all about wine or in some aspects about wine. For example,

[00:18:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I took a couple quizzes just before the show. I passed. Didn’t get a hundred percent. I got, I got thrown. I read it too quickly. It says click all the ones, except I just found one. Oh, that works.

[00:18:50] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, there’s, I do. It’s me. It’s one of my coworkers. So we kind of throw in some screwballs every there and then.

To make it really fun. But so what that is, it’s again, it’s just education and making it really fun and learn about wine and where you can pay challenge yourself but challenge your friends. And if you notice on your profile, you’ll gain points so you can brag to your friends. “Hey, I got 200 points. How many points do you have on the wine app?”

And what’s really fun and great for a users and businesses is you can submit your own quizzes.

[00:19:26] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I saw that. That surprised me.

[00:19:29] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, we’ll take about 24 to 48 hours to review it to, A, make sure

[00:19:34] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So, you do police it and make sure that, yeah.

[00:19:35] Jeff Gillis: We see, and make sure all the answers are correct. And I think it’s a great way especially for businesses as well is to ask consumers, you know, “Hey, what kind of wines do you like or what do you do so you can better brand yourself?”

[00:19:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s great. Now where did this idea of gamifying the social network come from because it’s to me that was one of the freshest things I saw.

[00:20:00] Jeff Gillis: Right, I think, definitely. I think like I said, you know, we’re trying to reach the 25 to 45 demographic. I mean, obviously, everyone drinks wine, but in doing our research, you know, the less people or the younger people aren’t drinking as much or aren’t drinking. So, let’s engage them more and how do we do that and, you know, let’s make it a lot more fun where they can, like I said, challenge each other, submit their own quizzes, have fun with the app.

I mean, wine should be fun. You know, wine, we like to think of wine as an everyday occurrence, you know, not just… On special occasions. So let’s make it as much fun as we can. And that first game to be, and let’s teach, you know, teach people about wine and to things cause it has so much, it’s, it’s one of the oldest beverages of the world.

[00:20:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. I can only imagine how you’re going to have leaderboards and, what a great idea. Well, let’s, I want to step back for a second. Cause you also have taken a few tests in your time. You’re a WSET2. And talk to me about what it took. Any advice to our listeners that might want to go do their own?

[00:21:11] Jeff Gillis: To be honest, WSET 1 and 2 are pretty easy, which is, it’s when you get into W 3 and obviously doing your math W fo4nd all of that. It’s just studying and making the time. I tried to, I have a family of three. So it’s really hard to make time. So it’s just, A, making sure you have the time and the notes and that you can study and flashcards or doing, having groups of your peers knit together is always fun.

[00:21:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And then like talking about the different levels of the WSET and the, you know, this being a so many, I saw that people are like ranking their wine knowledge on the app, like novice up, is that classification used at all to, like, influence, like, recommendations?

[00:22:04] Jeff Gillis: So, what we decided to do, there’s, we’re taking that off for now because it’s another question, and the onboarding, you know, as we market this app or learn with the public, I’m like, okay, there’s a little too much onboarding questions when some of the apps you can snap and you’re on right now.

And really, that did come about to when you’re just talking to the peers to see, okay, I’m talking to this person and they say they’re intermediate or they’re advanced. But what we are keeping is, so if you are a somm, you can submit your credentials on our app and there will be purple grapes next to you.

Like that’s kind of our verification. Just like you know, there’s a blue checkmark. Ours is free. It will always be free. We’re not going to charge you to say, “Hey, I’m in the wine trade business, or I have a diploma in some sort.” So, and that’s for level one to level four to, you know, court masters and all of that.

So at least, and like I said, let me notice on the other apps, especially the wine apps, where you don’t know who you’re talking to. You can leave a review, but how do I know this person knows what they’re talking about? And at least, you know, hey, kind of let talk to Assam kind of thing. Like, okay, Jeff posted, Oh, you know, Jeff has a degree, a WSET.

So he knows at least he knows what he’s talking about or hope to know what you’re talking about.

[00:23:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure. Now, as your app grows and you go into the thousands and thousands of users, what’s your roadmap for like monitoring or moderating the community and keeping it on track?

[00:23:45] Jeff Gillis: Right now, it’s internal. You know, we look at every post and we’re checking in off the comments. So we have been, we’re small enough where we can do that as we grow, we’ll probably have to get what’s called an API, some software in there. But it is, you know, we hope everyone is friendly on social media.

And right now, you know, on other social media apps, there’s not, but, so we hopefully, can, you can self-police, you know, if there’s a user, you can suspend, you can be asked to suspend a user, or, you know, unfollow a user, or report a user, and then we’ll look into that.

So we have all of those controls if someone is bothering you on the app, and we’ll look at it, and, you know, by case by case, and, you know, whether we have to suspend a user or remove a user, we will.

[00:24:41] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Talk to us a little bit about the roadmap. I know you just launched, but I know you’ve kind of got some milestones. What’s your next milestone that you guys are shooting towards?

[00:24:48] Jeff Gillis: So right now, before we monetize or anything, it’s just let’s gain users, you know? And so that’s what we want to do is get the app out there.

Have media talk to it. And then, you know, we do, we just hired a PR firm so that we can present ourselves professionally to, you know, all the wine trade magazines and, and even just all of the newspapers and the food sections and all of that, but it’s really, okay, let’s gain users and let’s gain, A, their feedback, you know. In settings, you can say, it asks you, you can go report saying what things you would change.

Every person who downloads the app or submits creates a user. I email personally saying, “Hey, welcome to the app. These are the features. If you have any problems or issues or comments, please -“

[00:25:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Goes back to My Space. Where you get a personal message from Tom.

[00:25:46] Jeff Gillis: Exactly. It is. So it’s funny you say that. So, and we set that up where one of the monetizing is, so everyone has to follow, there’s one user on there called the Winelikes app.

And so everyone has to follow everyone. It’s automated. You follow that person. You can’t get rid. You will see that person in your feed or it’s our business. Obviously, you won’t see me. I have a private page on there, you know, Jeff, but. So then we will always update you so you can say, hey, this is new. These are the new features.

And also for monetizing, you can do sponsorships of XYZ winery says, Hey, we want to send you some bottles to do a video or to try, we say we will do it as long as we like it. We’re never going to put a product that we don’t stand behind, but yeah, it is more of the My Space, the friendly, hey, everyone’s wants to follow these people and this person and all that, so yes.

[00:26:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s good. So as far as like, just sort of in the last couple of months, what sort of engagement are you starting to see with your users?

[00:26:51] Jeff Gillis: You know, more people are posting. We started off this, we have a small fund. We haven’t, we don’t have outside investors, so we bootstrapped it ourselves.

So for, I’ll give you an example. So, about two months ago, we launched, we came up May and then in June, we had video. To, you know, to compete with social media and we did video for 30 seconds because, all right, we don’t want to take that longer because those are internal costs of that, but it’s like, and we’ve talked to people and it’s like, all right, you can’t really do much in 30 seconds, especially when pouring a glass of wine or showing off wine or talking.

So we just updated, we just did an update last week. So now it’s a minute-long video.

[00:27:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s probably enough. If someone wants to watch more than a minute.

[00:27:41] Jeff Gillis: So it’s funny you say that because I don’t know if you’re on other social media platforms, but some people can write a book about a wine. And I’m like, is really reading this?

So we kept the characters to 250. We like to say, look, this is about your wine journey, but as an oxymoron, as this is or hypocritical is, we don’t want you on the app.

We want you to find that wine, find your wine journey, and be like, oh wow. That seems great. Let me go out and buy it. Let me go try that winery, you know, wine travel.

And like I said, I had a hos I have a hospitality background. Wine travel is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I mean, wineries are now getting into the hotel business and having stay-ins. We hope to showcase that and we want you to find a wine, find a place to enjoy that wine, and go. Get off the app and then, of course, then post it afterward. But, you know, we,

[00:28:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I guess there’s, there’s a lot of platforms where people can create their wine diary of pages and pages of tasting notes.

[00:28:46] Jeff Gillis: Exactly. And that’s not really what we want. We want you to know that here’s wine. Here’s how to enjoy it. Here are the tools to find it and go and, like we say, sip, socialize, and share.

[00:29:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I love the idea of the socialized part. Talk to me about the roadmap there, because I do see a lot of, there’s a lot of reviews on there. A lot of, I see a lot of bottles. Talk to me about the road map of like infusing this hospitality, which is your, your background.

[00:29:15] Jeff Gillis: So that would be once we get enough users, what I hope to do is say all of these users are drinking XYZ Cabernet and I hope to go to my neighborhood restaurant and say, look, you know, if sales are down or you need, you know, more people fall through the door.

This wine in this area is X, everyone’s posting about XYZ Cabernet, maybe it would be beneficial if you brought it in and we could do say something where, “Hey, everyone’s enjoying this wine, come in and, you know, get 10 percent off the wine bottle.” And that’s really the social aspect and bringing people together is what we hope for.

So that’s what we really hope to use that data for is really expanding the restaurant reaches.

[00:30:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Can you give us an idea of the sort of your current staff structure or how you’re running this?

[00:30:11] Jeff Gillis: I’m running it full-time, but I also have a full-time job. And then it’s three of my friends. Who are helping me part-time and then we’ve outsourced, like I said, we have a PR firm, then we have a marketing firm, we’ve outsourced developers. So, it is, I work luckily, I’m very flex, my job is very flexible in what I’m doing now, and then, but I’m probably,

[00:30:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What are you doing when you’re not rating wines on, or talking about wine to Winelikes?

[00:30:49] Jeff Gillis: I’m actually in biotech.

[00:30:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Are you? Oh, wow.

[00:30:52] Jeff Gillis: Yeah, so, so I do marketing and patient outreach for a small biotech startup.

[00:30:59] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, cool.

[00:31:00] Jeff Gillis: So that’s what I’m doing right now. And then so I’m usually up until 2 a.m. doing Winelikes. Oh, that’s awesome. And so, Winelikes is my exit strategy, which it will make enough money and be more popular that I can leave and dedicate to full time to Winelikes and then let part-timers all have, you know, jobs in wines or marketing or their own businesses and hopefully then, they’ll come on board once we can show a profit and we can pay for labor.

[00:31:34] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I get that. No, we talked to a lot of founders on here and I’m sure you’ve got a couple of tips on how do you juggle family, a job, and your future entrepreneurial initiatives. Aside from setting up at 2 a.m. and burning the candle at both ends.

[00:31:51] Jeff Gillis: I’m lucky where I’m lucky because kids grow up so fast.

I already have kids on electronics that can entertain themselves as sad as that is but I have a high schooler a middle schooler and a fourth grader. So and luckily in summertime you can send them to their grandparents. Or to they spend a lot of time with their friends or summer camps so you can dedicate and my wife owns her own business, so she understands the commitments, but you know, it takes, look, you’re always going to be tired, but the reward, it’s about the reward really, you know, and so it’s a long road traveled, but hopefully it will pay off in the end.

And as long as you’re dedicated to it and you’re excited about it then just do it and it doesn’t affect you when you’re sitting in bed at 1 a. m watching a stupid reality TV show in the background typing on your computer sending out emails, you know. It’s all worth like hey, hopefully eventually I can take a vacation my family and I think more importantly, you know, why wouldn’t you want to show your kids, your family, what hard work is?

And I think that you know, I grew up with a father who was an entrepreneur and who always tried to make it work to provide for the family. And I think that’s a big lesson to me and that I hope to provide to my children and also live your dreams. You know, I sit at a desk and I am at my current job and there are no windows in my office and I’m like, I miss those days when I used to be in the restaurant business or hotels.

You constantly walked around. And so I can’t wait to be on my app and go out and sell the app and just be like I said, be outdoors and see a window and see a view.

[00:33:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I get that. So you talk about growing up in an entrepreneurial family. Did you grow up in a wine-drinking family?

[00:33:55] Jeff Gillis: Not at all. In fact, my parents won’t touch red wine till this day, and it’s, I tried to bring them wines and they’re like, no, they’re, all they do is drink white wines and some bubbles.

And so, but I did have the benefit, I would say, my parents did, have my sister and I, we traveled a lot. Or they took, I would say, a European view of things where I have two and given my kids alcohol at, not a, at a younger age to really show that, you know, A, it’s an art form. Wine is art, you know what I mean?

That it takes so much to get a bottle of wine, you know, from the grapes. To the bottle and that process and that it is really art and that it’s not taboo. So I don’t want my kids going off to college being like, “Oh, I’ve never tasted alcohol. Here we go.” That happens to so many friends. So luckily they’ve always shared what they were drinking when we were having family dinners or not or when we were traveling to obviously more Europe that and all that because it is, you know. It’s not taboo in an Italian family or anything to have red wine or have wine.

I do, share some wine with my kids and have them take a sip. And especially when we mentioned, you know, studying for the WSET or a wine exam, I had them sit with me just and make it fun and show them.

[00:35:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: – that appreciation, for sure.

[00:35:30] Jeff Gillis: Exactly. And I used to work in Napa. So, they used to come up to Napa. And visit me and they’ve stomped the grapes.

[00:35:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, nice.

[00:35:39] Jeff Gillis: Yes.

[00:35:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Nice. Now, when you talk about that appreciation for wine and, when did you know that you were wanting to kind of devote yourself into the wine industry and hospitality?

[00:35:52] Jeff Gillis: I think going back at a young age, like I said, I was at the benefit, being able to travel and stay in hotels.

And I’m like, hey, I enjoy being a guest. I understand expectations, you know, especially in marketing. It’s all about exceeding expectations. I think I can exceed expectations. And I started in the front, front office and management in a hotel. And then there was a need to be for a restaurant manager.

So I made the crossover because as a front desk manager across the way was the bar. And all of these managers over there were having fun talking to guests and all I was is getting phone calls about housekeeping and getting yelled at and even about the restaurant, hey, they didn’t have this. And I’m like, this isn’t fun. I’m just standing behind the desk and that restaurant manager is laughing it up and walking around.

So, you know, I made the transfer and I never looked back. And then I had at, at age probably 22 or 23, I had my first glass of red wine and I’m like, wow.

[00:36:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s amazing. Okay. Yeah. I think I had drank, yeah, I think I was early twenties or more like 19.

[00:37:05] Jeff Gillis: Of course, I,

[00:37:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I grew up in San Diego, so we were tequila and beer.

[00:37:09] Jeff Gillis: I see that. So, I mean, I had wine before, but then it was really, okay, this is what wine by the glass. I had to learn on the spot and I’m like, wow, this stuff tastes amazing.

[00:37:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I know. It’s so, being a Somme, what’s your go-to wine, and what wine is your dream wine?

[00:37:30] Jeff Gillis: I think my go-to, I like a light red usually at the end of the night.

So I’m usually doing a Pinot Noir. Sometimes I do like the spice, so I do a Tempranillo Grenache. My dream wines, obviously, like I said, I’ve never been to Burgundy and I would love to do a tour of Burgundy and try some great Burgundian red wines and even – wines. I think, you know, I’ve worked in Napa, so I was, did a lot of Napa wines and those wines, California wines, but I would love to branch out more to Old World.

[00:38:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You know, I tend to gravitate to the old world, specifically 14 percent alcohol and under. As I get older, that makes it a lot easier to wake up in the morning. Yeah, so as we’re kind of wrapping down here, in hindsight, what would you have done differently launching Winelikes?

[00:38:35] Jeff Gillis: That’s a loaded question.

Hey, I would budget more. I, you know, I got budgets from companies and be like, okay, that works. And I went after those loans for that exact amount and didn’t think, oh, it’s technology or things always change. And you, you always need more money. So I think that’s the biggest thing is whatever your budget is, I would double it.

[00:39:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s kind of the same in construction. You’re always under, you’re always uncovering something else. Like I know at our agency, we give a time estimate and we’re always like, this is just an estimate today. You’re going to come up with a new idea tomorrow that’s going to change this estimate.

[00:39:23] Jeff Gillis: Right. And I think we did our homework, but there’s always do more and more research. Especially tech, everything changes. And so,

[00:39:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, talk, what sort of, like, four years. That’s a whole tech, I mean, that’s a long time in a tech life cycle. What changed while you were, that you started that, kind of, you had to adapt to?

[00:39:48] Jeff Gillis: AI. I say AI. And, and that’s something we’re looking at. We hear everyone on the social media platforms when we don’t want AI. Like I said, we want to be crowdsourced, but is there an element of, okay, talk to AI somm. So you can be talking to someone live, technically live right there to get advice to be at that feature.

But luckily for tech, it’s made it cheaper to do stuff. So I’m not complaining about that at all. But I think where, what, and where it’s easier to develop an app now. So you’re always afraid. All right. Is someone going to now come and just, you know, look at Threads. They just copied and pasted in that app. So, yeah.

[00:40:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And it helps to have 200 million users that you can tap into.

[00:40:42] Jeff Gillis: Yeah. And that’s the thing. So, so it’s where we just want to make sure we’re always adapting and stay up. You know, always updating as well and adding more features. So, for example, we have a list of probably 15 features we want to introduce at different levels and different things.

For example, right now, if you look at our logo, it’s red wine and all of that. So, and so we’re like, all right, we want to introduce, if you really love white wine, you can change your screen on your phone to have the white wine. And so, you know, and have yellow colors instead of red colors, you know, fun things like that to always keep the user engaged.

[00:41:25] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s interesting. I like that. I did, I did have to pick the color of my wine glass that I was going to use.

[00:41:29] Jeff Gillis: Right. And yeah, so that’s really like, and again, that’s just, okay. I always learned in restaurant marketing, usually, you copy someone else, whatever restaurant, they’re doing something right.

And then you put your own spin on it. So instead of just every social media app has a like button, but we’re a wine or we’re a wine social media. So let’s make it a wine glass Let’s make it fun. Everyone complains. The biggest thing is like you can only get one emoji color of red wine. It’s like alright.

Well, we can’t install pre-install emojis, but at least we can make your Winelikes glass on your post your color you want. And that’s another thing. Okay. Now we have to introduce orange wine. Do we? Seen the biggest thing from the summer we’ve noticed is blue. There’s blue wine now.

[00:42:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Blue wine? Okay. You’re the first person that’s brought that up. Tell me about blue wine.

[00:42:21] Jeff Gillis: I don’t know. I can’t, I haven’t done my own research, but I’ve seen about four to seven. Blue wine? No. It’s just how they’re doing the skins and manipulating the skins to make it more blue.

[00:42:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, I, I’m gonna be Googling that right after this call. I heard it from you first. I like it..

[00:42:41] Jeff Gillis: Yes. No problem.

[00:42:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So Jeff, what else would you like us to know before we, wrap down today?

[00:42:48] Jeff Gillis: Like I said, that, you know, if you’re looking for an app, A, without all of the noise, where you can really see your friends, talk to your friends, we have that aspect, and learn something about wine. And if you enjoy wine, or if you don’t even know where to start on your wine journey, that’s where Winelikes app comes in.

[00:43:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, perfect. So Jeff, where can people find out more about Winelikes and you?

[00:43:12] Jeff Gillis: Sure. Obviously, we’re available worldwide. You can just, in the app search store, go search bar, just put in Winelikes and you’ll find us and download it. Or you can go to and you can download via that way as well.

[00:43:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, perfect. Well, Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:43:31] Jeff Gillis: Oh, thank you.

[00:43:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You have a great day.

[00:43:33] Jeff Gillis: You too.