Founded in 2014, Ekos has become the global leader in business management software for independent craft beverage companies. However, up until now, the startup has been entirely bootstrapped.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company raised $8 million in Series A funding—one of the city’s largest Series A investments in recent history—in a round led by Noro-Moseley Partners.
“We’re truly excited about our Series A, because it means that Ekos will continue to evolve and become a company that will help all artisanal makers,” Ekos CEO Josh McKinney said in a statement. “However, our first love is the craft beer market, and we remain steadfastly committed to those customers and continuing to help them be efficient and profitable.”
Prior to founding the company, McKinney and CTO Greg Forehand were both fascinated by independent craft breweries. After talking with several brewers, the duo realised that these businesses struggled to grow as they became more successful. To manage their companies, brewers often used Google Sheets, NetSuite and even clipboards and whiteboards.
“It was shocking that this emerging industry lacked the fundamental tools to help them run an efficient business,” the founders explained on the startup’s website.
McKinney and Forehand decided to design software specifically for craft breweries—quickly becoming the market leader in business management software for this market. The cloud-based platform tracks inventory, sales, accounting and every step of the production process, including brew, fermentation, and conditioning logs.
At the end of the startup’s first year in business, 100 breweries had joined the Ekos platform. Although the founders initially wanted to focus on the US market, inquiries soon came in from breweries in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. After collaborating with over 1,000 breweries, other craft food and beverage companies started to ask Ekos to develop software for their businesses.
Currently, the company has customised packages for breweries, wineries, cideries and craft food and beverage businesses. Ekos has managed to reach 1,700 businesses in 40 countries, including 15 percent of craft breweries in the US.
With the $8 million in funding, Ekos plans to hire at least 40 more employees, enhance product features and expand its platform, aiming to become a central hub for craft food and beverage business worldwide.
“This investment from Noro-Moseley Partners means that we can expand our capabilities and global footprint and bring even more effective solutions to both new and existing customers in the craft food and beverage space, as well as execute on our ultimate vision of creating a new ecosystem for the craft industry,” McKinney said.