The Ekos team has transformed pretty drastically since the Charlotte-based, beverage industry-focused SaaS startup raised a 2019 $8 million Series A round from Atlanta-based Noro-Moseley Partners.
The team grew from 30 employees to 80 with significant growth on the product and engineering teams.
And as the number of craft breweries, wineries, and cideries has grown globally, Ekos has become an important software solution for beverage makers looking to streamline operations.
The team rolled out a new user interface, Ekos Boost, which has helped significantly cut down sales rep training time.
This September Ekos also launched Ekos Order Hub, which the team said is the “first step on our journey of connecting the entire supply chain.”
Order Hub, which connects directly to Ekos’ core management software, makes it easier for brewery owners to manage inventory and communicate with beverage distributors and retail customers.
That is particularly important as craft breweries, wineries, and other specialty beverage manufacturers navigate supply chain shortages and other pandemic-related challenges.
“Our industry had a lot of challenges over the past two years. At the beginning of 2020, many of our customers had to shut down their taprooms and tasting rooms, which were their primary source of revenue. While this could have been detrimental for most businesses, instead, we saw breweries and wineries embrace the challenge and find new ways to sell their products. The growth and importance of e-commerce has helped craft businesses not only survive but thrive, during the past two years,” Ekos told Hypepotamus.
“Craft businesses have also had to navigate changing regulations, shortages of ingredients and packaging materials, and changing customer expectations and tastes. But overall, we’ve seen our customers embrace these challenges and they’ve come through the pandemic stronger than ever.”
According to data collected by Ekos, US brewers witnessed a steep increase in the amount of packaged barrels of beer over the course of 2021. “Overall, our U.S. customers have increased their packaged production more than 50% from 2020 to today,” the team added.
That industry growth has caught the eye of outside investors. Ekos is closing out 2021 with a $21 million Series B round, led by New York-based Catalyst Investors. Previous investor, Atlanta-based Noro-Moseley Partners, also joined the round.
Catalyst is no stranger to the food and beverage tech space, having invested in ChowNow in 2017.
“We see significant potential in the craft industry, but there are currently many disjointed systems and a lack of comprehensive analytics. Ekos’s mission is to connect the supply chain and give business owners the visibility and insights they need to grow,” Kapil Desai, Partner at Catalyst Investors, said in a press statement. “With a stronghold on inventory management data from craft producers, Ekos is uniquely positioned to build the technology that propels the industry forward.”
Ekos’ Series B rounds out an impressive year for the Charlotte SaaS and startup community. Whip Around, Rent Ready, MedShift, and Oyster HR are a few of the teams that raised Series A or B rounds in 2021, showcasing the diverse tech talent workforce that earned the city a top spot on CBRE’s 2021 Scoring Tech Talent report.
As for Ekos, the team is poised to help alcohol brands and those in the manufacturing space navigate emerging trends in 2022, which the team predicts will include an increased number of alternative beverages, new packaging options, and an increase in direct-to-consumer options.