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Tech Startup Brews Growth

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Nov 17, 2023
Ohanafy’s CEO Ian Padrick (right) wants to eventually expand the startup’s scope to the entire beverage industry but is focusing on craft beverage distribution for now. (Photo c/o Ohanafy)
One word defining the following year for software company Ohanafy is “trust,” CEO Ian Padrick said. 

The software startup, which has tapped into the craft beverage management market, is growing with help from its nearly $3 million capital raise this summer. The Wilmington-based company has since expanded its staff to 30 employees, overhauled its software and forged partnerships with some of the nation’s most prominent breweries, Padrick said. 

Trust comes into play with investors while the company looks to raise a series A funding round, employees who look to Padrick to steer the company in the right direction and customers who believe in the young company’s ability to keep up with – and maybe surpass – industry leaders, he said. 

Ohanafy’s technology helps craft beer breweries manage production, sales and distribution on a single platform built on Salesforce, the world’s most used customer relationship management software, according to the International Data Corp. Padrick said he wants the company’s early success to continue and accelerate. To separate itself from its competitors, Ohanafy is focusing on each business holistically.

Instead of prioritizing brewery management systems, which encompass back-of-house production, inventory and the brewing process, Padrick said Ohanafy handles brewery management plus employee management and sales tracking. He wants the software to be used for a brewery’s full scope of business, eliminating the practice of employing a slew of software companies for each task. 

He said in today’s brewery economy, independent brewers take on various roles to compete with larger national brewers. Ohanafy’s processes should feel natural to the user so it doesn’t feel like they have to learn new technology, Padrick said. 

“If we can do a good enough job, automating many things through the system,” he said, “you can spend more time in your business where you need to be spending time.” 

In this spirit, Ohanafy partnered with GoTab in October, a point-of-sale tech company that helps facilitate purchases at the register. He said if a brewery had to use another software, Padrick wanted it to be a company partnered and integrated with Ohanafy technology. 

GoTab’s founder, Tim McLaughlin, described the partnership as “a hand-in-glove fit for breweries” on Ohanafy’s video series, Tech Taproom.

Ohanafy spent the past three months overhauling its production capabilities, Padrick said. This work will allow the company to accommodate its existing small brewery customers with the addition of its larger enterprise customers. 

The production update is one portion of an update to Ohanafy’s software announced in September. The update includes batch management, allowing brewers to split or blend batches of liquid in the brewing process; tracking the loss of fluid, helping brewers reduce waste; lot tracking, tracking information like expiration dates of ingredients; and lastly, a simplified interface for enterprise brewers that allows them to view batch and product stages, according to an Ohanafy release. 

 Also in October, members of the Ohanafy team traveled to Las Vegas to attend the National Beer Wholesalers Association conference. This trip allowed Ohanafy to show the beverage market that it is moving beyond local, independent craft brewers and into the wholesaler sphere. 

There were always plans to enter the distribution space, Padrick said, but he did not expect these plans to materialize so soon. The speedy move to a larger distribution model comes from the company’s work in distribution with local brewers, finding that upscaling was not as complicated as they thought, Padrick said. 

Ohanafy is now working with at least five of the top 100 breweries in the country, Padrick said. Although he would not disclose which companies he is partnered with at the time of publication, he said some of its partners supply beer for professional sports arenas. He said he plans to announce some partnerships before the new year. 

“We try to take these things pretty seriously,” he said. “[These are] very large businesses that can’t have hiccups; when they do, it costs them a lot of money. So, it’s just making sure that we’re very intentional and methodical about how we roll it out.” 

Once his team has conquered the craft brewery market and larger alcohol distribution market, Padrick said he sees the company heading toward working with nonalcoholic drinks. 

“We’ve started with craft, and now we’re expanding into just a larger alcohol,” he said. “Eventually, that will expand into broader beverage, nutritional, tea, water, soda, juice, you name it.”
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