Texas Tech University

Craft Brewery Startup Taps Into Entrepreneur Ecosystem

Innovation Hub Team

November 4, 2019

Good Line launches innovative concept on the local beer frontier

Many people associate the Texas Tech Innovation Hub with technology-based startups and growing businesses. When two technology guys from Austin launched a craft beer business in Lubbock, they thought of the Hub, too.

Crafting innovation

Chris Troutman and Shawn Phillips are co-founders of Good Line Beer Company. Troutman brews test batches of the startup's various beers in his garage. Phillips handles private sampling events and other operations. Good Line's craft brews aren't for sale yet. The pair are developing plans for a craft production brewery and tap room that will open in the coming months. Troutman says, "Our focus is on quality, consistency, approachability, and innovation. Your experience and a comfortable welcoming atmosphere around what you're drinking plays a lot into the flavor and the quality of the beer. We're doing something that is a little bit smaller than most production facilities so that we have the ability to try new things along with offering traditional favorites."

Troutman and Phillips met when they were students at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. Both men have been computer technology industry professionals. Both are big music fans and played in bands. And, of course, both love great beer. They've come to the Innovation Hub to get business advice from iTTU mentors and to meet occasionally with members of the Lubbock Angel Network. The men made the connection to the Hub after talking with a city councilman, representatives of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, and staff with Small Business Development Center at Texas Tech. Phillips says, "We're benefitting greatly from its resources. The Hub is a supportive community for all entrepreneurs, not just those in technology-related fields. There is creative artisanal innovation, just like there's innovation in other areas. It's clear to us that Lubbock and Texas Tech want to help all kinds of innovators succeed. It's economic and quality of life enhancement that benefits everyone."

Glasses of Good Line Beer Company craft beer and company's logo

Startup story: Part 1 and 2

Troutman says the idea of starting a craft beer business had been brewing for quite a while, but didn't come to a head until recently. "Shawn and I had technical jobs that involved a lot of travel. That frequently took us to several of the more mature beer market cities in some other states. We started home brewing in Austin in 2006. Five years later we teamed up with some other guys and started a beer magazine called Austin Beer Guide. It was all more like a passion project we did on the side that turned into a really intense hobby. Shawn and I put together an Austin craft brew business plan in 2011. Then suddenly we each had kids, bought houses, had our own careers, and life went by really quickly. It just wasn't the right time," he says.

The turning point began when they noticed that Lubbock was developing signs of becoming a craft brew market, which they had observed elsewhere. Troutman and his young family visited his wife's hometown often. He shared his observations with Phillips. That led the pair to do market research. Phillips says, "We compared cities across America with similar populations to Lubbock. We looked at the number of craft breweries and the total amount of beer being sold. Lubbock was under-served. We also saw benchmarks here like great food places, a growing art scene, and continuing population growth." Phillips and Troutman moved from Austin to Lubbock in 2018. Phillips says, "There are already a handful of craft breweries. It's kind of a communal rather than competitive industry. We're excited to be a part of it here and to add to it."

Craft beer boss life and hustle

The hustle for Troutman and Phillips is similar to their philosophy about their beer and business. Phillips says, "For us it's about achieving balance, creativity, and quality." Troutman adds, "We have families, so that's a big part of it. Being able to work for ourselves is another part. I've always enjoyed creating and managing things and seeing where there's a market opportunity that matches with my passions."  

Between the (Good) Lines  

Good Line Beer owes its name to the co-founders' love of music, especially good lyrics. The company's logo does too. For that, Phillips and Troutman partnered with Dirk Fowler, an internationally famous concert poster designer who is a Texas Tech University art professor. Look closely. There's much more to the logo than initially meets the eye. Maybe Troutman and Phillips will reveal its subtle secrets to you over one of their craft brews.