Using AI to Pick Your Perfect Wine with Blake Hershey of Sippd

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Aug 26, 2021

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Last Updated on August 26, 2021 by Drew Thomas Hendricks

Blake Hershey

Blake Hershey is the Founder and CEO of Sippd, an AI-powered plugin and app that helps users discover their new favorite wines using Taste Match technology. Blake has a background in the aerospace and technology industries, working at companies including NASA and JPL. He founded Sippd in 2019 after previously holding the title of Chief Innovation Officer at MORI Associates.

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

  • Blake Hershey describes how his fiancé inspired the idea for Sippd
  • The technology behind Sippd’s personalized wine recommendations 
  • Blake discusses the early development of Sippd and its evolution from being used solely for dining out to a wine marketplace
  • How AI uses data to become smarter and more developed
  • Why Blake encourages groups of people to use Sippd as a social tool
  • How are Blake and his team generating brand recognition through digital marketing?
  • The importance of knowing your users and their desires for your product
  • Blake shares the challenges of developing an app and explains how his company’s “aha moments” correlate with success
  • Sippd’s fulfillment and distribution practices as a newly formed wine marketplace
  • The benefits for wine stores to be part of a retail network
  • Blake gives advice to startups wanting to branch into the online wine space
  • The importance of having a strong team behind you when growing a company

In this episode with Blake Hershey…

Picture this: you’re out to dinner with a group of friends. The waiter brings over the wine list, and nobody knows where to start. Don’t you wish there was a way to get recommendations from that wine list straight from an app? You’re in luck, because Blake Hershey created just that.

Blake was working in the technology industry when his fiancé mentioned her wish for an app that told her which wine to choose. He dropped everything and founded Sippd, an AI-powered platform that uses Taste Match technology to become your personal sommelier. He’s here to tell you all about it and recommend some delicious wine in the process.

On this episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks has a conversation with the Founder and CEO of Sippd, Blake Hershey, about AI’s journey to transform the wine industry. They discuss the evolution of Sippd from a dining tool to a wine marketplace, generating brand recognition through digital marketing, the importance of understanding your consumer, and so much more. You don’t want to miss this jam-packed episode!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit or email us at to schedule a strategy call.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, with your host Drew Thomas Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  0:20  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, from sensory design experts like Dr. Hoby Wedler helps brands think beyond the visual, to today’s guest Blake Hershey leveraged his background in aerospace to create an app that uses machine learning to recommend the perfect bottle of wine. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead, at Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. One that highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, if you’re a business looking to retain a winery or craft beverage producer as a client, Barrels Ahead will figure out a plan to make it happen. Go to today to learn more. Now before I introduce today’s guests I want to give a big thank you to Heather Polick from ACIC. On last week’s show, Heather and I talked about the latest innovations in closures. Check out that episode to learn how to align your wine and spirit closures, your brand’s environmental initiatives. I’m super excited to talk with today’s guest Blake Hershey from Sippd. Now Blake has a pretty unique background. He comes from the aerospace industry working at NASA and JPL. Leveraging this experience Blake recognized an opportunity to use machine learning and computer vision to create a personal sommelier and wine marketplace app that helps wine drinkers find an easily purchase wines, the love before they even try them. Sippd is heavily focused on the millennial demographic, and hits all the highlights of what younger wine drinkers are looking for. convenience, ease of use good deals, supporting social causes, interacting through humor and means. Welcome to the show, Blake. 

Blake Hershey  1:59  

Hey, thank you very much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  2:02  

Oh, thank you for being on. So like, tell tell us about yourself and how you got into the wine industry from aerospace.

Blake Hershey  2:09  

Yeah, I appreciate it. I’m a fairly new entrant to the wine industry. We started Sippd, just the concept of it in 2019. And after COVID hit, we had to pivot a little bit. So it delayed our launch of our mobile app, which is out for just about three months now.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  2:28  

Yeah, it was on it that apps Great. Well, I can’t wait to dive into it. But now how did that idea of Sippd come about?

Blake Hershey  2:35  

Yeah, so this was quite simple. My fiance actually was my inspiration. Like, for many of us, she was on a girl’s trip for the weekends. And because I’m into wine, all of her friends think that she’s a wine guru as well. So they go out to lunch and dinner, and always hand her the wine list. And she really doesn’t know about wine as much as I do. And she certainly doesn’t know what all their friends like. So she did her, she took her best guess and some were hits and some were misses. And when she came back, she was signing the story. She said, just one simple phrase that ignited the idea for Sippd. She’s like, I wish there was an app that would tell me which wines I’m gonna like on a wine list. And I thought there would have been one already, so you can research and I couldn’t find any. And you know, around the same time, I was kind of looking at starting my own company and going into like, you know, consumer tech. So, you know, I started doing research. And that seemed like a really good opportunity. And it was something that I do, my friends would use, right? And that’s a big thing. It’s like, Is it useful? So he started down the path of, you know, building Sippd.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  3:44  

That’s amazing. So you started looking at restaurant wine list. And so you could just scan the list, and it would recommend based on your prior tasting experiences, the wine that used to be picking for that meal.

Blake Hershey  3:56  

Yeah, more or less. So essentially, after the user signs up for Sippd and they read a couple of wines so we can begin to learn their preferences. You take a photo of a wine list and we turn it into a digital wine has so it has like the description of the wine food pairings and other useful data. But you know, the big thing is what we call taste match. So that’s the preset from zero to one 100 that aligns to your personal preferences. So you scan it and get the digital wine list and it will show you the percent score for how much you’re going to like each wine before you ever try it.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  4:30  

Yeah, it’s amazing. I was on the app and I filled up my little taste preferences. And I was surprised it was it was pretty spot on with what is recommending it were Yeah, it was working. I liked it. As an online marketplace we’re kind of jumping ahead here on on the early so the early days of Sippd were designed for wine lists.

Blake Hershey  4:48  

Yeah. The early days of Sippd was really designed for like the wine dining experience, though. You know, we weren’t planning on selling any wine. It was really about guiding people to restaurants based on their food choices. Differences in their wine preferences. And then of course, of course, using kind of like Google Translate plus, Netflix combined to help them understand a wine list and make, you know, the right decisions. And we were really close to launching that they’re probably about 85% away complete. And then COVID happened and the entire world shut down. And of course, you know, the no one really had a use for a restaurant focus that we’ve spent like a good 12 months on. So we were looking at the market and trying to understand where people going during COVID for their wine and wine sales online. You know, like, I think overall in 2021, of 66%, online 243%. So we thought we would pivot to you know, create a platform for desktop and online, and we decided to create a plugin. Now that is probably the biggest lessons learned from my entrepreneurial journey. So far, the point is actually really great experience. But we look at it from a marketing standpoint, 90% of digital ads are served on mobile. And if you’re serving up an ad on mobile, and you want to use a Chrome extension, one, you have to have Chrome installed on your phone, which means that not a lot of Apple users have that. And you can only add it to your desktop, but then you have to go onto your desktop and then go into like Google’s extensions, and then enable it. So getting people to go from awareness to actually into the experience was really challenging. But we learned a lot, which was great. Like we really learned about the marketplace experience and what good, what challenges people had and like what type of experiences that we were giving them that were resonating, and which ones we could improve. So we quickly realize that we need to take this back to a mobile app, whether it’s gonna be a marketplace or a restaurant app. So we redesigned it rescanned it and developed it and we launched it in March.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  7:00  

That’s amazing. It’s excellent pivot there. I think it’s a good seamless experience to talk to me a bit about because for that, not not many not me at all know much about computer vision or machine learning. How does that go into the app? And give a high level overview of how that works?

Blake Hershey  7:19  

Yeah, so it’s a big question. And you know, I have a lot of employees that are much more intelligent than I that after can answer the question better. But you know, at a high level, we use machine learning models, they’re trained on a lot of wine characteristics. So bridle region, price, alcohol percent, and many others. And based on that, we can calculate the similarity between different wines. And then we combine that with something called a collaborative filter model. And that really does the same thing. But it finds similarity between different users. So like, let’s say you and I have rated five wines the exact same, and then there’s one other person that we’re with, and they’ve rated for those wines the exact same, but not the fifth one. So there’s a syst statistical probability of how much they’re going to like that fifth wine. So we combine those two models into a single number, which we call taste match.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  8:17  

I get it. Oh, man. So then the more that the more data you have, the better, the more accurate it is.

Blake Hershey  8:23  

Absolutely. I mean, AI and machine learning. You know, it’s very complex on a certain level, but on the other level, it’s really all about the data, it’s, you know, it’s just like learning in general, the more we learn, the better we get. And this the same thing for these models.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  8:40  

That’s amazing. That’s great. As far as the the Sippd experience, as far as the experience goes with, um, now, is this a solo experience? Or is people on the platform and they’ve got groups of friends? I know, we had talked maybe in the pre show about something like that way, you can get aggregate data.

Blake Hershey  8:56  

Yeah, that’s it. That’s a little bit of a spoiler alert. Oh, shit. No, it’s totally fine. You know that wine is social. So Sippd has to be social, nobody wants to drink alone. So we’re deploying some features that we call a combined taste match that allows groups of up to four to combine their preferences to find the best wines for the entire group. So that that works at a restaurant, if you’re dining out with like, your significant other and you know, another couple or if you’re shopping online. Another really cool thing is you can see the top top case matches of your friends as well. So friends and family, so you know, Mother’s Day just passed, but if we had that release, I’d be using that to figure out which one I should send my mom because sip is probably going to know better than I know. And perhaps even she does. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  9:48  

That’s phenomenal. I can only imagine how useful that’s going to be how many times I’ve gone to a restaurant and there’s like we’re at a six top and someone hands me the wine list. And I’m just assuming everybody thinks they know about And they want me to pick it’d be so nice to know. What’s the common denominator on this list?

Blake Hershey  10:06  

Exactly. Yeah, it’s hard to get into people’s heads. And it sounds like you have similar experiences. But my fiance had when she came up with the idea for set. Yeah.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  10:14  

So as far as Sippd how are you? How are you generating brand recognition and build it building an audience?

Blake Hershey  10:20  

Yeah good questions. So you know, we use a lot of your traditional marketing strategies, some, namely, namely digital, so your Facebook ads, Google ads, Apple ads, and we’re very active on social media. So you know, we really utilize meme humor, and we partner with influencers within the food and wine like lifestyle spaces to reach people that would benefit from you know, what Sippd offers. So like, that’s the traditional the club peso, paid, earned, shared owned marketing. But our team is really focused around what we call product lead growth. And that’s all about understanding your users desires and challenges, and then building out experiences to solve those. So it’s all about really aligning your entire company around who your users are, what they want, and building empathy for them. And that’s done with like a marriage between data and just talking to your users as much as you can, we try to do at least five to eight calls with our users a week. And we rotate everybody in development, QA and marketing on those calls. So they’re all getting exposed to that how our users feel about the experience and identifying new opportunities to offer more value. Than you know, from a from a data side, there’s this thing called a habit moment in having a moment is like an action or a series of actions where a user is getting enough value where they continue to come back and use your product. So maybe it’s the wireless scanner or the taste match for us. So you kind of do as you look at the top 25 or 10% of your users that are the most active and retained. And then we run something called positive and negative correlative analysis, this is getting a little in the weeds here button. Great, that’s fine, the statistical probability of users being retained long term based on a set of key actions. And that tells us where those power users are really finding true value that makes them come back and you set on a frequent basis. You can have multiple happy moments like presets, we discovered purchasing wine, and using our one scanner or delivering the most value for people to continually come back and use it. Which is great, because that’s what we were hoping for. But you know, that’s no surprise. But you’d have to kind of figure out what are those users have in common that got into that moment. So you kind of work your way backwards. So what we call the aha moment. And that’s the early core value that correlates to your long term retention. For Facebook, they’re out there famous aha moment was discovering seven friends in 10 days, if a new user added them, then they were more most likely to be retained for up to six months. For Sippd, we found three aha moments. So one is users that have had four sessions within 21. days. Two is users that rate their first wine during their first session. So the first time they open up the app, in three days, users have the rate three wines within 14 days. And all of those are 40%, or more likely to be retained six weeks later than those who have not. So we use that information along with speaking to as many users as we can to redesign experiences to help new users reach those moments where they can find that core value and steps. And you know, as more time passes, we get more users, we discover new moments where customers are finding value.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  13:50  

Have you been surprised by any of these aha moments that you enter?

Blake Hershey  13:54  

Um, you know, I think that the four sessions and 21 days is like, it’s quite interesting that it’s like a huge jump between three sessions in like four sessions, like the correlation between like three sessions was some 20%. Then at four sessions, it was like 43%. Like, that’s a huge jump for just coming back that fourth time. So now my question is, what are they doing when they’re coming back? is actually leading them to continue to come back? Does it take four sessions for them to find the wireless scanner or to finally like buy wine? So we’re doing additional analysis and you’re we’ve only been in the market for two and a half months. So the longer time goes on the more data we can get and answer those questions. So it’s just a series of asking yourself questions and then using data and talking to your users to get the answers for those. And then, you know, to your point earlier about combining taste match, if you will. So the other aspect of product growth is growing your user base. So the first part I talked about is retaining and adding value and that always leads to growth because word of mouth. The other aspect is how do you get your users just with to spread word of mouth for you, and you know, essentially become your evangelists. And that’s all about social interactions and allowing people to have shared experiences on your platform with their friends and family, and what better industry to do it. And then why is nobody wants to do. So yeah, in the next six to eight weeks, we’ll be revealing some new features that we think are going to be game changers in the in the industry. And so…

Drew Thomas Hendricks  15:36  

This will be this actually be out probably at the end of August. So a lot of the stuff we’re talking today might actually come to fruition.

Blake Hershey  15:44  

That would be amazing. I want you to notice, when we release it.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  15:49  

That’s awesome. Well, little previews here, back to this product lead growth, what would you say it’s really a model where you, you, you go through the persona, and you build it, you build something that you think will match that persona? And then that leads to the growth? Is that correct?

Blake Hershey  16:04  

Persona is one side of it. So for some is really, a persona is like who your people are your users, their shared characteristics, then there’s a behavioral personas, and that’s what you were getting at. And yeah, so you figure out who are the people that liked your product, the most using it the most, what are their shared behaviors. And those shared behaviors are obviously showing a direction to where they’re finding value. And then you redesign the product to help more people discover that value more quickly. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  16:35  

That’s great. It ties it, it’s kind of a flipping story, story, you know, story marketing on a TED, because on that pattern search media, usually you’re bringing people into your story, and they want to latch on to get more of what you’re doing. Whereas what you’re doing is kind of you’re you’re helping people create their own story, and you’re providing them the utility for them to get where they want to be.

Blake Hershey  16:57  

Exactly. So you know, we have an assumption that people download Sippd because they find it interesting, maybe they want to know what ones they’re going to like, or they want to try the wine list scanners. So our goal is how do we get them to those points of value as quickly as possible? Because you know, when you download an app, and you don’t have any instructions the first time, you can go a lot of different directions. And if you don’t go the direction where you’re gonna find the value, then why would you come back, so it’s our job to help them find that value.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  17:22  

I can totally see that if you’re a little unsure about wine, you’ve got sipped on your phone, you go into the you go into your little dinner party at the restaurant, suddenly you look like a superhero can navigate the list. You’ve got the latest technology, and you become somebody that you want it to be.

Blake Hershey  17:36  

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, the big thing for restaurants is sommeliers In fact, they love us, because, you know, a lot of times they’re answering their friends and like networks, questions of what wine do they have? or What should I get? And they say just be upset. But also, you know, most of the restaurants in the world don’t have sommeliers as are like professionally trained beverage staff. So you know, these less dense population areas around the country. We allow people and restaurants to give them a great experience in the absence of having, you know, professionals there your system.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  18:13  

Oh, absolutely. That’s great. What are some of the some of the challenges? So you’ve got the product lead development? What do you see the one of the biggest challenges and take in that direction to building out your brand?

Blake Hershey  18:24  

Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, you know, there’s, there’s a few wine apps out there already. So I think that’s one of the challenges, just as an off start building out awareness and, you know, getting, you know, getting people into the experience, then approach to product lead growth to the value that would keep them coming back. And then, you know, we touched on this previously, but really COVID was the biggest challenge that we face, you know, essentially a year’s worth of work that we tried to dust off and you use in post COVID worlds, which, you know, required a lot of effort, a lot of experimentation. But yeah.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  19:07  

So getting back to the Sippd app. So as far as the distribution, you can buy ones on the on the app, it’s not just for picking out wines at the wine list, you can actually set up your own, you know, purchase wines. How does the fulfillment of that work?

Blake Hershey  19:19  

Yeah, that’s a great question. So we’re marketplace, we don’t own any of our products. And we’re a very personalized marketplace based on taste match. So our retailers have, you know, X amount of wines, and we surface, the best wine store users, and then they can purchase directly through the retailer, but through the set out.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  19:40  

That’s amazing. that frees you up from having just a tremendous amount of inventory and also frees up the distribution part so that you can concentrate more on the experience.

Blake Hershey  19:49  

Yeah, absolutely. We care about the experience, and we really care. We care about our users first and foremost, of course, but you know, our job is to also help our retailers so how can we direct them Got our users to retailers have products are going to love when we do that, then it’s a huge win for us and a huge win for the user and a win for the retailer. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  20:09  

How has it been building up this retailer network?

Blake Hershey  20:13  

Oh, it’s been challenging actually. Being as one is, you know, again, word of mouth, and, you know, going, figuring out the key decision makers, being able to get them to have a meeting, and then then going through their processes of decision making. And then, of course, you know, once they get on boarded, there’s just a bit of the data management for integration. But we’re getting very good at that. We try to make it as painless as possible on our retail partners.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  20:45  

That’s me, it seems like to me, it seems like a no brainer, I come from the retail side of the industry, I ran a random wine store for many years helped independent wine stores sell their wines. To me, it looks like a no brainer. So it’s another channel in which you’re always looking for another channel to sell your, sell your wines.

Blake Hershey  21:02  

Yeah, we’re trying to make it a no brainer. So I’m glad that you see that. Yeah, I think a lot of it is, you know, a lot of these retailers are really good, but like, they don’t have a lot of staff, and they have a lot of competing, you know, priorities. And, you know, I’m sure they get slammed with a lot of emails from a lot of great companies in the industry that are trying to help them sell more. So they have to kind of wade through those different options and make the decisions that we think are the best for the growth of their business.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  21:31  

I’m sure. Have you just worked with retailers, would you also work with wineries that sell direct to consumers?

Blake Hershey  21:35  

We would love to work with wineries. We haven’t established any producer relationships yet. But you know, at the end of the day, I had a lot of respect for the wineries, they’re the ones that are making the grape juice. And, you know, DTC is such a valuable channel for them. And it’s also valuable for the user because they get connected to the actual person making the wine more and they can explore more of their wines. And then, you know, hopefully, eventually join their wine club and visit them and you know, wherever their vineyard is.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  22:07  

Now, how, how would a winery or retailer go about becoming a partner?

Blake Hershey  22:12  

But just If you email us there, we’ll be happy to set up a call with you and go over the services that we offer.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  22:21  

That’s amazing. Do you offer any kind of marketplace feedback, so that they know, like help them benefit and outside?

Blake Hershey  22:29  

Yeah, absolutely. So we, you know, we run analytics on you know, traffic interactions with their products, add to carts and like checkouts. In the future we’re working on like, providing data on what our users are, like reading and reviewing their wines. So they can really get an assessment analysis and like down to like a geographical area. So they can understand, okay, and like we have big penetration, perhaps in Texas, you know, 25 to 34 year olds. And like, I think that’s very valuable to help them inform their marketing decisions moving forward.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  23:04  

Oh, absolutely. I mean, a lot of these smaller independent stores, they lack that kind of data, data analytics that, like the big chains may have to empower some of them would be would be tremendous value on that. As far as the um, so for retail stores, do you have a success or example of how a retail stores achieved?

Blake Hershey  23:29  

Yeah, actually, so we recently incorporated wine spies. There is wonderful outfit out California that does like flash sale deals. And now we have a flash sale section on our home screen that offers their discounts between like 20, and like 70%. And they’re just getting a lot of interaction and a lot of play with our users. And ultimately, wine spot has a great service and great prices. We just have users there, I think every buddy pretty much doesn’t mind giving 50% off a bottle of wine. So we’re able to like you know, get them in front of people that they previously hadn’t been exposed to.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  24:08  

That’s amazing. As far as getting exposure and building a brand, or even just sort of a startup looking to make an entryway into the space. What What advice would you give a startup that wanted to break into the you know, online wine or an online wine tech app? 

Blake Hershey  24:22  

Yeah absolutely. So start lightweight, when you’re testing your assumptions, whatever you want to break into, I’m sure you have an idea. And there’s a ton of great ideas in people’s minds to solve a problem that you may have. But in that might not solve a big enough problem or not everybody or not a lot of people have that problem. So you know, before you really start a business, get out of the house, talk to people use Survey Monkey to do surveys. You really want to validate what they call jobs to be done. So like what are their core challenges and desires. And like once you do that, you can then forms the type of features or services You’re trying to offer, then you start just sketching this of what you think you know the experiences should be, then test that with people. And then eventually you get to what we call like a high fidelity prototype. So that’s using like a design tool like figma, or sketch. And it’s like interactive. And then you can pay to have people test that. And you probably want to have at least 100 people, and you can get feedback and like, are they accomplishing the mission? Are they clicking in the right places? And once you know that, you’ve hit that that’s the first time you should start developing code.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  25:33  

Hmm, very good. That’s great advice, I think I think I’ve failed to do many of those things in a couple past ventures, when I’ve failed to bring them up, I waited too long to bring the product to market had to be perfect. Learn, take the minimum viable in the market, and to just jump straight into coding, because we thought we knew what we wanted to do. And suddenly, we had this huge code base, and realize it wasn’t written quite correctly for her clients wanted.

Blake Hershey  25:57  

Yeah, in the beginning, we made some of those mistakes as well. So you know, it’s really learning from your mistakes. And the best way to not have really costly lessons learned is to start small, and everything’s really about building confidence, that you have the right product that you’re bringing to market. So if you can do it in small steps, and each one of those adds additional confidence, or allows you to iterate to get that confidence, if that’s what you really want to do is like, writing code is the most expensive part of any venture.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  26:29  

Absolutely. And it’s also resisting, because he always he always loves is only a little bit more people understand how great it is, don’t look at it, now it’s too early, it’s that it’s overcoming that fear of feedback, is you’re ever going to be able to get feedback on that final product. And one of the things that I’ve learned and what you’re seeing right now is get out there get the feedback early on, even if they don’t understand the whole whole concept, because you’re gonna be able to build a better concept at the end. 

Blake Hershey  26:53  

That’s exactly correct. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  26:57  

Yeah, that was a long, long, long entrepreneurial journey to learn that, because…

Blake Hershey  27:04  

Well, it sounds like a lot, and it is, you know, so you know, you really have to, you know, realize that, you have a long road ahead of you. And if you take those extra steps, you’re gonna have a much higher probability of success in the end. You know, I think the other thing is, you know, he, you can’t do it all yourself, you have to build a team, it’s very difficult a building any company these days is very complex, like, I, I can’t sit here and pretend to know that, like, I can do all the coding and the machine learning and the marketing, it would be impossible. So you know, you can moonlight in keep it as a side hustle for a while, but sooner rather than later, you’ll need to go full time. And then, you know, finally, I would say, you know, find a good co-founder that complements your skill sets within the domain that you’re going into. So for me, I know a little bit about wine, I probably actually should have brought on more of like a CTO earlier on to you set, like coding guidelines, and really set us up for growth, from like, a technical perspective. But now I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful team, it’s just like you said, the hard lessons learned from the path to get there. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  28:18  

Yeah no, it’s so important to be a part of the right team and actually just figure out what who is the best for each seat. And that does take a lot of time and a startup to fill out. Because you tend to start doing everything yourself, and then you, you start filling out some of the things you don’t like doing, but it may not be what you need to fill out at that time.

Blake Hershey  28:35  

Yeah, that’s very true. And you know, the other thing is like, how do you get people inspired around your vision, you know, that, if you want really talented people, and whatever industry you’re in, they’re gonna have their choices of places to go, and you know, your startup, you’re not gonna be able to pay as much as you know, a top winery or top tech company like Google. So what is the value that you can give that, obviously, if they’re passionate about what you’re going into, and they’re bought off on the vision? Like, that’s really what you want to look for?

Drew Thomas Hendricks  29:04  

How do you get people inspired about the vision? That’s the million dollar question?

Blake Hershey  29:08  

Yeah, it is. I mean, you know, we kind of say, you know, Amazon started books, we start with wine. So our vision is to become the Amazon of alcohol in the future. And to have taste match be like one of the primary like, criteria when users are making buying decisions. So that’s going to change the way that you know, people interact with and make purchasing decisions. And I think that’s a pretty compelling vision, but not for everybody. If you don’t drink wine, it’s not nearly as compelling as you can’t relate to it. Of course, there’s other aspects where they can be really passionate about, like the technical challenges, but it’s really if you can relate to that on a personal level, and on a cultural level. They’re going to be the ones that are coming up with ideas and the brains of thinking outside the clock that even those innovations are like what really drives value to the user the in the labs. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  29:58  

Absolutely. So as far as For your own personal What are you drinking these days? 

Blake Hershey  30:03  

So I’m going to slaughter this pronunciation but Chateau du Pegau. It’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Oh, yes, Grenache. Grenache syrah I believe is just delicious, bold, but it’s super smooth. Yeah, it does have a nice spice to it. I actually I was in Châteauneuf-du-Pape when we got engaged. And I discovered it there. And I found a local retailer who’s actually on Sippd Calvert Woodley. And they have they have like four different vintages of it and at a great price. I just pop in, grab it there. And you know, we usually enjoy it on the weekends.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  30:41  

That sounds great. I love a good seven if I’ve got to check that out. So there’s tends to be a Raceway outside my office right now. Oh, oh. Two motorcycles just drag racing bikes. So yeah, shout enough. Love it. Sit back and check that out. Um, so Blake, where can people find more about you?

Blake Hershey  31:01  

Just go to or LinkedIn. Of course, you know, I just email me directly. I respond to just about every email as long as it’s not a solicitation. So my email is

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:12  

That’s awesome. And they can download Sippd on the both on the App Store? 

Blake Hershey  31:17  

App and Play Store. So Google and Apple. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:20  

Awesome. Okay. Thank you so much Blake for being on the show today.

Blake Hershey  31:24  

My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. And I love your show. And I think you’re doing great work for the industry.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:29  

Thank you so much. 

Blake Hershey  31:32  

All right. Cheers. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:33  


Outro  31:37  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.