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Any business owner knows organization is key to success. Hours spent in the back office, reconciling numbers or accounting for lost merch is a futile effort. The right technology is essential to your success (and your well being!). It saves you money, makes you more efficient and gives you time back to curate an excellent customer experience. 

Enter our main players. Founded by two people with a passion for craft—and craft makers—Ekos started as recipe management software to help craft owners better manage their businesses with technology. Over the last 8 years they’ve grown into an international business management system many of you know, and love, today.

We’re delighted to share our conversation with Josh McKinney, the CEO and one of the masterminds behind this revolutionary company.

Founders of Ekos, Greg Forehand (left) and Josh McKinney (right)

The People Behind Ekos

Let’s rewind the clock back to 2013. We’re taking you to Charlotte, North Carolina, when a younger Josh McKinney found a taste for craft beer. With a background in software and product management, Josh’s inquisitive mind pushed him beyond simply enjoying the delicious malty beverages to researching the processes behind their creation. After a series of brewery tours, he repeatedly found something missing from the beer making process: organization. 

Not only that, it was clear there wasn’t an approachable system for smaller manufacturers of craft beverages to achieve said organization (unless you consider whiteboards and spreadsheets optimal organizational tools for breweries). This gap in the industry would plague Josh for some time. Until one fortuitous day when he connected with Greg Forehand, a software engineer, on LinkedIn over their shared vision for a new brewery software.

Josh and Greg founded Ekos with the goal of building organizational software for craft makers, giving those craft makers back time to focus on their passion of making beer, wine, cider, and connecting with their loyal fans. In six+ years of business, they achieved this goal: Ekos customers grow seven times faster than non-Ekos customers.

“They have this product and they love the community aspect of it, the gathering around the table, or bar, and talking and building relationships. That is what’s in it for us,” said McKinney.

We have to give people back more time to be able to build a brand and community instead of sitting on their computer for 10 hours doing their taxes

The team continues to embrace innovation and foster community. They have a culture with a passion for local and a desire to help craft makers. “Our employees know that their actions day in and day out are directly affecting small businesses all over the world, and doing all they can, especially now, to keep them open,” said McKinney.

Image courtesy of Ekos

Helpful Partners

Ekos wouldn’t be anywhere without the help and support of the craft industry—an industry defined by innovation, entrepreneurialism and creativity. The company in turn looks for ways to give back to the community. A description that fits the bill for Ekos’s first partner and willing test subject—local Charlotte, NC brewery, NoDa Brewing. The valued feedback from NoDa and other brewery partners drove Ekos to rapidly innovate on an already innovative software.

“No one company is the same in the way they operate the business. Managing those nuances gets tricky, but we have a willing customer base to give feedback and help point us in the right direction. We’re not building the product thinking we know what needs to be done. We make decisions based on what our customers tell us they need to run the business and what they need to be optimized,” said McKinney.

Image courtesy of Ekos

Over time, Ekos grew their customer base, advanced their product with critical customer feedback and sought technology partners to integrate with (like Arryved) to support craft makers in optimizing their business. They strive to provide tools that make brewery production management a seamless process. Now craft makers can spend more time perfecting recipes, and less time in the back office. 

That’s what’s awesome about the industry that we work in, at the end of the day the greater need is wanting to help the companies that we work with.

Looking to the Future

At their core, Ekos is and always will be driven by the desire to help “the makers.” 

“These businesses that are at the farmers market on the weekends, trying to get their name out there and sell their product—the winemaker, the beer or cider producer, the kombucha maker, the coffee roaster. It’s the makers. That is who we work for at the end of the day and that is where we want to build our impact, enabling the small to medium size craft market,” said McKinney.

The goal: building relationships, staying on top of business, and striking the right balance between personal and professional lives. Ekos is committed to providing “industry leading software” for anyone who dreams of sharing their creations with the world. 

Image courtesy of Ekos

Up next? Ekos is continuing to add new features to make managing and growing a business easier and adding valuable integrations. Stay up to date on everything Ekos is brewing up on their blog


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