With a background in banking and technology and an interest in breweries, Natalie Waggett, and a team of Wilmington locals, have started Ohanafy, a software startup with a product for the beverage industry.
Waggett describes her endeavor with the startup as a passion project that turned into a passion product.
Her years of working as a banker and then at nCino exposed her to the world of finances and technology. Her involvement as an investor in Tarboro Brewing Co., a small brewery in the rural North Carolina town, exposed her to some of the difficulties breweries face.
“After 30 years in industries where we measured everything banking, performance and balances, and in technology where we measure key performance indicators, it was natural to me to ask those kinds of [performance] questions of any business owner,” she said.
What she learned when asking questions is that many craft beverage makers don’t have access to supply and demand data in the same technology platform.
“What that means is when they brew beer, they don’t always know where it’s going to be sold, or if it’s going to sell, and when they’re selling beer, they don’t always know that they have it in stock because they are typically stored in disparate systems that don’t have a way of talking to each other,” Waggett said.
Seeing small business owners lack the functionality they need to be successful frustrated Waggett. So, within a quick turnaround time, Waggett and her team came up with a solution.
The Ohanafy Brewery Management System
, to be officially launched in September, is described as an end-to-end craft beverage management software. Housed within Salesforce, the platform is designed to be used by anyone employed at a brewery, with a price based on beer production as opposed to the usual software-as-a-service model pricing.
“Designed with a focus on thoughtful business consulting to drive growth, efficiency, productivity and enable brewery owners with data to have conversations about access to capital,” a press release from the company stated.
The platform includes tools to manage several aspects of running a beverage business from production to sales to employee management.
Brewers need to produce the best product at the lowest cost, Waggett said, which is what the software aims to help businesses assess. The management platform will allow brewers to look at information regarding inventory, equipment maintenance, raw materials, suppliers and contract management, as well as how products are affected by seasonal shopping, among other factors.
The platform provides employee management, which includes reviews, feedback, time management and more. It also gives employees clear goals to drive growth.
In addition to running a better operation, the software makes it easier for breweries to show their performance to potential investors, Waggett said.
“Because I am a brewery investor and I’ve been a banker for almost 20 years, I know the benchmarks and key performance indicators and more,” she said. “So [we’re] giving brewery operators access to that so that they can start to look at themselves.”
Being housed on Salesforce allows Brewery Management System to be scaled to serve smaller breweries to larger operations. With the launch of the product, Ohanafy is being intentional about how it grows and how it adapts its product as more feedback is received from breweries.
Two breweries, including Tarboro Brewing Co., have been serving as advisers.
“As a brewery operator, I’ve been impressed to see how genuine the Ohanafy team has been in receiving our feedback,” Jud Watkins, Wrightsville Beach Brewery owner and Ohanafy adviser, said in the release. “Our industry can be a bit old-fashioned and slow to change so it’s great to be hands-on in developing a technology that will aid us in being successful.”
Ohanafy is rolling out what it calls a trailblazing program for early adopters. “Those early adopters are important because those are the folks that are going to give us the majority of feedback that helps us continue to know where the challenges are, where the pain is and what we need to build to solve it,” Waggett said.
Currently the startup has six full-time employees all of whom are University of North Carolina Wilmington alumni.
Co-founder and head of business development and alliances Davis Bryson said, “We’ve learned so much from our past experiences and Wilmington companies that to be able to use that knowledge to help the industry that we all love, the craft beverage industry, is super exciting.”