A Behind-the-Scenes with Craftpeak

Let’s head behind the scenes with John Kelley, Craftpeak CEO, to learn about how this North Carolina startup is helping craft breweries run thriving businesses online.

Industry Friends

“Craft is about that authentic connection between customers and creators and that’s what we allow all of our customers to do. We want you to leverage technology to create those authentic relationships. And make sure you can run great businesses.” 

That’s John Kelley, CEO of Craftpeak. Craftpeak emerged in the market in 2016 intending to make web experiences as amazing and specialized as, you guessed it, craft beer. Since then, they’ve designed solutions to help craft breweries create authentic connections and run thriving businesses online.

We’re honored to introduce you to the wonderful creators behind the North Carolina startup, Craftpeak. 

Into The Minds Of Innovators

Engineer. Soccer fanatic. Outdoor enthusiast. Start-up junkie. 

A man of many talents, John Kelley consistently finds himself working among entrepreneurs, attracted to their intellect and innovative spirit. John said, “I’ve always relished the opportunity to be part of organizations or teams where you’re working with great folks, solving tough challenges, and using your creativity and intellect to do that.”

John Kelly, CEO of Craftpeak.

Combine the hard work of these entrepreneurs with their social impact goals and you’ll find yourself among the team at Craftpeak. These “amazing humans,” in John’s words, are people who find inspiration from one another, and the craft makers they serve, to change the way people sell and market their products. 

Assembling the Craftpeak Team

So how did the idea of building enterprise web tools for craft makers happen? 

Short Answer

Over many beers.

Long Answer

In 2013, John assembled the beginning of the Craftpeak team. With creative director, Corey Bullman, and technical director, Julien Melissas, (“two of the best in the industry,” says John), the three engineers embarked on building a multi-site web platform specifically catered to the needs of craft breweries.

In John’s words: “We started with a web solution that would allow breweries to drive traffic to their taproom, make sure people knew about events, and give them a very powerful marketing platform that would convert. Then in 2015/16, we started rolling out our e-commerce toolset so that we could provide direct-to-consumer sales channels where they could hopefully meet the consumers where they were heading.”

Parish Brewing Co. online store designed by Craftpeak.

Challenge Accepted

With overflowing taprooms craft owners initially showed little interest in the idea of investing in direct-to-consumer sales. “Early on, it was just the three of us. And we fully expected that it wasn’t going to get a great reception because breweries were doing great with the taproom model. But we kept challenging that assumption.

How do you get people to buy into something they don’t think they need? Well, at the time, they didn’t need it. During the 2010’s golden age of craft beer, in Asheville, North Carolina, “you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a brewery,” said John. Taprooms were overflowing with craft beer fanatics. Brewery owners didn’t see a need, nor did they have the time, to invest in new sales channels when the status quo of on-premise sales and distribution was working. 

2020 and the pandemic changed everything. Craft owners were forced to evaluate their business models, and in the process, discovered the value of e-commerce and online marketing. “I think the opportunity now for most breweries is to really understand their cost of sales channels. You can only dial in so much on the cost of ingredients, now the real margins are the efficiency with which you sell and market your beer. That’s where we try to lead with education and solutions to help breweries do that,” said John.

Ultimately, it’s about helping people run better businesses—which John and his team do every day. 

“And we’re no longer trying to convince people to move in this particular direction; they’re already moving that way, so that’s exciting.”

A Force To Be Reckoned With

With the right people around the table and an innovative product, Craftpeak is building solutions that matter.

The Craftpeak team over zoom. Image courtesy of Craftpeak.

“Part of our job is developing technology, yes, but it’s really about building solutions. So that’s us going out and forging strategic relationships with the right partners,” said John. 

Once such partnership is with Arryved POS. With a combined commitment to developing innovative solutions for craft beverage producers, the Arryved-Craftpeak integration allows establishments using Arryved’s POS and Craftpeak’s ecommerce services to sync inventories in real-time across their ecommerce site and on-premise operations.

That also includes working with and giving back to the communities they care deeply about. When it comes to collaboration and creation, Craftpeak prioritizes humanity. They’ve partnered with 1% for the Planet and built websites for the All Together and Black is Beautiful initiatives, pro bono because these are things their team is passionate about.

“Craftpeak is also a vehicle for us to be able to do different things. In our time left on this earth, and if we really only have one shot at this, what are the things we want to do? What are the things we want to contribute to the lives around us? That’s the fun,” said John.

Craftpeak is dedicated to giving its partners powerful tools to tell their stories and drive sales. Reach out to the Craftpeak team to learn more about how their game-changing web solutions can help you!