The $1m investment came from individuals who are “excited about and believe in the BruVue vision,” Co-founder and CEO Christopher Lorkowski said.
Lorkowski was approached by fellow co-founder Michael Mitchell, a bar manager at the time, to develop an accurate, reliable, and easy-to-use beer inventory system.
BruVue also announced that it has won Heineken’s Innovators Brewhouse Challenge, an initiative aimed at shaping the future of beer and cider through invention and shared development and help solve internal Heineken challenges.
“When it’s time to take keg beer inventory, it’s the end of your shift and you go into this cooler and it’s crowded with these heavy kegs all around and you have to lift and shake each one and guess how much beer is left in them,” Lorkowski told BeverageDaily. “As you can bet, it’s not an accurate method at all.”
“Keg inventory is also a challenge for distributors,” Mitchell added. “You have to drive account to account to shake kegs and check inventory. Finding a keg full or empty is a problem. If you find a keg empty, your tap handle may have been replaced by a competitor’s. If you find a keg full, you sold that bar a product that their customers aren’t buying.”
The inaccurate, yet widely used ‘shake and guess’ method also costs breweries, distributors, and bar owners money – BruVue’s data estimates that the average beer faucet in the US has about $50 in unaccounted loss per month.
To solve the issue of unaccounted inventory loss and create an easier solution for tracking beer, Lorkowski developed a sensor that is attached directly onto the thread of the tap handle, not touching the beer, and tracks beer levels by tap handle motion.
“We know every time your tap handle opens and closes. With cloud computing and machine learning, we can actually track ounce by ounce the beer coming out of your faucet and calibrate itself over time,” Lorkowski said.
“You can drill down and see how much was poured on a Friday night.”
The system is internet connected, “priced like a cell phone [plan]” at $15 per month per sensor and can be ordered through the company’s website with orders to be completed in April this year, Lorkowski added.
Benefits for brewers
Because breweries are confined to the three-tier distribution system in the US, they lose some control and direct insight into how their beer is performing at bars, an issue that is becoming more complex as product diversity in the beer market increases.
“For brewers, it’s really hard to predict what you should be brewing for next month. You don’t know which products are going out of style, which ones are coming into style,” Lorkowski said.
For distributors, BruVue provides product inventory and movement at bars in real time from their smartphones. Distributors no longer have to drive account to account to check inventory levels and can practice just-in-time supply, BruVue said.
While the US is the Ohio-based startup’s first key market, its goal is to expand international and tackle the $500bn global beer market, Lorkowski and Mitchell added.