Philip Hipkiss: Side Hustler Extraordinaire
Philip Hipkiss. The man, the myth, the legend. To some people, Phil is the Director of Finance. To others, he is the owner of the local brewey - and to some, he is a landlord.
No matter what role Phil is embracing, there is one thing that is for certain: Phil is a side hustler extraordinaire.
As the Director of Finance at Sivantos Group, the co-founder of Block Three Brewing Company and the owner of multiple rental properties, Phil’s journey to where he is today wasn’t easy.
CBaSE first met Phil in the Spring of 2018, while working in collaboration with the LAICOS network to host an event celebrating social enterprises in the food industry. Most recently, Phil sat down for an exclusive interview with CBaSE to dish on all the details about his journey through careers, entrepreneurship, and starting a side hustle.
What was your first job?
My first job was working at a fitness center in Newmarket, Ontario. I was 15 years old and would work on weekends and after school. My first career focused job was when I started my co-op at PwC in Kitchener/Waterloo. I worked all of my co-op terms there and worked during school to help pay some bills.
What did you study at university, and how did that experience lead you to where you are today?
"I do not have to settle for the path I am going down. If I focus I can do what I want."
I went to University of Waterloo and studied accounting and financial management. I was in the financial management stream, but quickly realized I wanted to obtain my CA (now known as the CPA). When I approached my student counsellor about this, they indicated that “I was not eligible to pursue working with a CA firm, and that I would be taking someone else's position, someone deserving of it”.
This really set me off, so I proceeded to sneak into any CA networking events that I could think of, made contacts, and got a job.
I do not mention this to put down my counsellor (in fact I have nothing but praise for my alma mater), but this incident made me realize that I do not have to settle for the path I am going down. If I focus I can do what I want.
What was your first side hustle, and how did you get into it?
I used to help my bigger friend with his school work, and in return he would "have my back". I was known to, at times, start conflict so his protection in the school yard was well worth the 15 extra minutes of homework.
My first adult side hustle would be Block Three Brewing. My buddies and I thought it would be fun to start a brewery. At the time, I was working in Hamilton, which meant I had a 2-hour round trip commute. Derek Lebert (co-founder of Block Three Brewing Company) and I built out a business plan while carpooling on the drives to and from work. From there, everything just kind of snowballed. The company in Hamilton was struggling financially at the time, so everyone went down to a 4-day work week. I asked if I could do 3 instead. I then used these extra days to help get the brewery up and running. Once it was in order, I found a new job and went back to 5 days a week.
What are the benefits of having a side hustle?
For starters, it allows me to enjoy my hobby (beer) on a daily basis (like a job) but does not apply any of the pressures of it being my only source of income. It’s also a pretty cool time for the beer industry, so it’s always a great conversation starter.
Another benefit is knowing that there is the safety net of having a position to rebound off of if things go sour in my current position. With a growing family, making sure I have a steady paycheck is always in the back of my mind. Finally, it’s a lot of fun because it’s with my friends. It has allowed us to travel together, and to stay connected.
Does having a side hustle come with sacrifices?
Definitely. It’s a lot of work, and there are stresses involved. Although the business operates fairly independently of me these days, I am always in the know as to what our issues are and how we are facing them. It can get heated sometimes. It’s not like it’s just a job – it’s a passion. It is something I helped build in our own community. It is important that we continue to provide a quality product and service for our community and customers. It’s difficult to balance day-to-day work, while also wanting to jump head first into your other passions.
Since the brewery, I have ventured into some investment properties, and I am working on another bricks and mortar business. Juggling all of these "side hustles" is becoming a lot more difficult (time wise) but I love it.
What is a piece of advice you would give to someone who’s looking to have a side hustle?
"Only get into something if you are passionate about it. Otherwise it’s not a side hustle, it’s a side hassle."
Only get into something if you are passionate about it. Otherwise it’s not a side hustle, it’s a side hassle. There are not many side hustles that will make you a fortune, at least not right away. It can be a lot of dedication for no extrinsic benefit. You must be intrinsically motivated in order to still enjoy it year after year, after year. I know a lot of accountants who do taxes on the side, and they hate it. Even though it’s extra pocket cash, it is not something they love. And now, they have people who expect the service, so they feel stuck. Don't let yourself get stuck!
Is there anything that you would like to share that you think students would find valuable about your experience?
Surround yourself people you can learn from and people you can depend on. I like to think I am still "young" and learning, but I would never have made it to where I am today without the support of my team members, and mentors. Also, be sure to try out Block Three Brewing ;)!
To learn more about Block Three Brewing and the great work they do in our community, feel free to check out their LAICOS video!
Want to learn more about the 'Side Hustle'? Come out to our Startup Eat Up featuring Rishi Sethi on Monday, September 24th!