He played a movie star on TV, but lately, Adrian Grenier seems more interested in business than in showbiz. After launching Reckless Productions, a film-production company, and co-founding SHFT, a site that promotes green living and sells eco-friendly products, Grenier recently launched his third venture: Churchkey Can Co., a Seattle-based brewery that sells craft beer in retro flattop steel cans.
The idea for Churchkey had been brewing for a couple of years, ever since a friend introduced Grenier to Justin Hawkins, a former Nike designer. Hawkins was fascinated with old beer cans, which were opened with a church key—a pointed can opener. When Hawkins told Grenier he wanted to revive the design, the actor suggested they launch a business. They shook hands. "That was it," says Grenier. "It was just like in the movies."
Recently, Grenier and Hawkins have zipped through the start-up equivalent of the movie montage. Churchkey, which launched in March, is already selling its beer in more than 200 locations in Seattle; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco. And the company has raised funding from tech investors, including Michael Arrington's CrunchFund.
Grenier approaches entrepreneurship with an actor's sense of fearlessness. "The key to acting is being able to be wrong, do something uncomfortable," he says. It's the same with business. "Once you figure out what doesn't work," he says, "you can move on and figure out what does."