Plus One: Melani and Jeff Gordon
Met: At work in 2000
Married: Since 2007
Live: East Village
Their story: Most women would cry foul (or scream it) if a Valentine’s Day gift involved a case of beer. Not Melani Gordon. When her boyfriend Jeff (aka “Flash”)—now her husband and business partner in taphunter.com—had a case of Blue Moon shipped to San Diego in 2001, she was thrilled. “At the time I was just getting into craft beers, and I had no idea Blue Moon was brewed by Coors. It was so new and different then,” says Melani. “It was like our gateway beer,” agrees Flash.
Over the next decade, Melani and Flash jumped head first into the local emerging craft beer movement, but not by way of hops and bathtub brewing operations (though they do have a small batch brewing currently in their hall closet). They took to their iPhones to launch taphunter.com, a Web site and mobile app that tracks and promotes the latest local taps at dozens of the best craft beer bars and restaurants in the city. Want to know the instant a new keg is tapped at Regal Beagle? TapHunter will alert you on your phone. Want to save money drinking good beer? TapHunter’s discount program gets you up to 50 percent off at certain pubs.
It all started when Melani took a job in marketing and sales at Z57 Internet Solutions, where Flash was the director of technology. “I was way in the back with all the programmers and she was all popular up front with the marketing group, so it took a while before we got together,” remembers Flash. After several discreet group outings with co-workers, Mel and Flash had their first official date at Ono Sushi in 2001 and were married five years later.
After Z57, Melani founded her own technology and marketing agency gWave consulting, it turned into an incubator for TapHunter, created in 2009. Like so many successful start-ups in San Diego, UCSD’s CONNECT played a role in launching the business. Melani submitted their plans to the program and today the couple receive guidance from Mark Lovett. The business is run out of the compact gWave office in Little Italy, with many late nights spent working side by side at home, too, in their one bedroom condo in the Icon building near PETCO Park.
Melani and Flash also credit their undergraduate experience at San Diego State for inspiring them to start a business. “San Diego is a great city for entrepreneurs,” says Melani. “If you find a niche and something you really want to do, there are so many resources to help, if you’re passionate.”
And passionate they are, though these days, Valentine’s Day for the Gordons is most likely spent on a bike ride together, sipping a cold beer, or camping in the desert with friends. “We really enjoy our group of friends,” says Melani who admits that she and Flash are among a growing number of thirtysomething couples choosing not to have children. “You’d be surprised how many techie people also are really into beer, biking, and camping.”
But how do they live and work together in 800 square feet? The couple cites Melinda and Bill Gates as role models. In their latest memoir, the Gateses discuss the importance of stopping once a day, mentally and physically, and taking walks together.
“Sometimes I’ll look up from my computer at him and be like, ‘We need to go take a Bill and Melinda walk,’ and we do.” And hopefully, this couple has invested in some good walking shoes, because sales of craft beer products exceeded $7 billion in 2010, and are expected to continue a steady 10 percent growth year over year. TapHunter is growing, too, and will be live in 10 cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, by the end of the year.