As of 2015, there are more than 4,200 breweries in the United States, up from about 1,400 10 years ago.
That’s a lot of new businesses in a highly competitive field, and just because someone is good at brewing beer doesn’t mean they have experience overseeing other aspects of a business.
Des Moines startup BREWD is looking to help breweries run more efficiently with its software while they scale at the same time.
How BREWD works
BREWD founder John Jackovin has an affinity for craft beer, and after winding down his previous tech company, Bawte, he was looking to do something connected with his passion for beer.
“I started sitting down with local breweries and asking them what were the best and worst parts of their jobs,” Jackovin said. “As they opened up to me, I started to see a lot of their data was poorly siloed in their systems. If I was able to leverage technology to help solve their problems, it seemed like that would be something businesses might be interested in buying.
Running a brewery involves buying raw materials, managing production, scheduling and effectively selling the product.
Thirty three states allow for self-distributed breweries, where they can make direct sales to customers and deliveries to retailers.
The latter means maintaining lots of customer relationships while making sure their product makes it into bars and onto supermarket shelves. If that relationship doesn’t go well, a bar might take down Brewery A’s tap handles and replace them with Brewery B’s.
BREWD’s software makes it easier for brewery owners to handle business inquiries, orders, raw materials, packaging and more. Ten breweries are currently using BREWD, including locations in Colorado, Vermont and Iowa.
Think kegs, not six packs
Jackovin started out testing BREWD with smaller orders, 10-15 per day, but he quickly realized that breweries often deal with orders much larger than that.
Jackovin had to quickly adjust BREWD to meet what customers were using it for, including things he hadn’t anticipated.
For instance, BREWD was set to handle empty kegs being returned for deposit, but sometimes full kegs are returned, and that needs to be reflected in the accounting system, inventory and customer credit.
“I can’t say enough about listening to your customers and having them tell their stories,” Jackovin said. “That reveals a lot of what a system needs to do.”
So far the breweries utilizing BREWD are becoming dedicated users, with the software being accesses by each brewery every 20 minutes on average.
Ready for another round
Within the next six months, Jackovin plans to have 100 breweries utilizing the BREWD software and to bring a developer on full time (for now Jackovin and other team members are working on BREWD part time).
Expanding into more breweries is the short term goal, but in the near future Jackovin thinks BREWD has potential for other markets.
“I’d like to see BREWD become a market leader for brewery management software, but I’d also like to see us move into distilleries and wineries,” Jackovin said. “[Cannabis] dispensaries could be an interesting market as that opens up in more states. There are a lot of industries that currently have a very manual process, BREWD could help them integrate marketplaces and streamline their entire process.”
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.