WWU's SBDC works With Overflow Taps to Create Unique, Sustainable Business Model

by Lucia Gruber, Office of Communications and Marketing intern

Since 1983, Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has helped local entrepreneurs develop and grow their businesses.  One such business is Overflow Taps in Lynden, which donates 25 cents of every pint sold to help solve the global water crisis. The business was co-founded by Western alumni Adam Stacey, along with business partners Jesse Nelson and Josh Libolt.

It was important to Nelson that this endeavor be both sustainable and charitable, but he said he was unsure about what the charity would be until he logged into Facebook one day.

 “A video for charity: water came across my feed and it touched me. I felt connected to the cause. I pitched the idea to the Adam and Josh and they were on board; they have big hearts,” said Nelson.

Stacey graduated from Western in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. As part of an entrepreneurial course during his last quarter at Western, he developed a business plan and financial projections for a tap house. He spent hours researching the draft beer industry.

“In the end, all of that work paid off,” said Stacey.

Once the three seriously began to consider opening the tap house, it was a relatively simple process for Stacey to edit the pre-existing business plan.

“It is important to note that Overflow Taps would not be around if it weren’t for Adam. He is the workhorse,” said Nelson.

The three partners came to the Small Business Development Center well prepared with their concept, but they needed some additional guidance.

“When you get hyped up during the idea phase, you get tunnel vision and become blind to the weak spots,” said Stacey. “It takes an outside perspective to identify those.”

The SBDC helped them with financial forecasting, fine tuning the business plan, and raising capital needed to open the doors - which was their primary challenge. Together, they learned about what to expect in terms of startup costs, and some of the landmines to avoid that that can devastate a business if the owners are not prepared.  The team collaborated with their SBDC advisors for almost a year and a half prior to launching Overflow Taps.

“Overflow Taps is a wonderful success story and one that is not uncommon to the work we do here at the SBDC,” said CJ Seitz, director of the SBDC.  “It has been inspiring to see these young men and their families embrace the challenges of starting and growing a local business while providing jobs and impacting the world with their mission based approach.”

Along the way, the team was also assisted by Eric Grimstead, a certified business advisor at the SBDC.

“Jesse, Josh and Adam were determined to do whatever it took to make their dream, and unique business model, a reality. They were willing to explore creative alternatives to securing the initial start-up capital needed to open their doors. This was important because banks were reluctant to lend and were not quite comfortable believing the connection between the cause related marketing efforts and the revenue projections," said Grimstead. "In short, they faced that adversity and refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and now their vision of success has been realized and their business is making a difference both locally and across the globe."

Initially, the team thought they would rotate charities throughout the year, but were inspired to develop a relationship with a nonprofit focused on the global water crisis, charity: water. Nelson met its CEO, Scott Harrison, at a leadership summit in Bend, Oregon. After the meeting, the three partners realized it was important to them to make one big impact, rather than many small ones.

“We started finding a lot of ties between water and beer, like water being so crucial to the brewing process,” said Stacey.

Based in New York City, charity: water brings clean and safe drinking water to developing communities around the world. Private donations cover their operation costs, so all the money donated by Overflow Taps goes directly to building wells.

“The team at Overflow Taps has been an incredible supporter for charity: water’s work to end the water crisis,” said Harrison. “By donating 25 cents from every pint of brew, they’ve already raised enough to bring clean and safe water to hundreds of people in developing countries.”

“We love their creativity and commitment in not only raising funds this way, but also helping us generate genuine awareness and passion amongst their clients and fellow beer enthusiasts. We’re so grateful for their generous support of charity: water,” said Harrison.

Things have gone so well that Overflow Taps is opening its second location, in Barkley Village, this summer.

The team said they were  is grateful for all of the assistance the SBDC provided them along this journey.

“They were very important,” said Stacey, “They pushed us to better our business plan and ourselves.”

For more information, contact Overflow Taps at (360) 778-2033 or the SBDC at (360) 778-1762.


Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 9:57am

The Overflow Taps team, including CBE alumnus Adam Stacey, second from left.