Our Founders’ Story: Where they started, how they got here, and plans for The 5th Ingredient’s future

Our Founders’ Story: Where they started, how they got here, and plans for The 5th Ingredient’s future

The Beer30 software has risen from seemingly nowhere, to become one of the most powerful and fastest growing brewery management systems in the industry.

With all the buzz surrounding Beer30, we thought we would give you a deeper look into the Founders' unique journeys and how they came to be partners, so our customers could understand why Beer30 was created - and how it differentiates from other brewery software in the market.

Given the incredible speed of Beer30’s development, you may assume that our founders, Pulkit and Ryan, are only ‘science nerds’, with the bulk of their experience in big tech companies.

Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Yes, they do love science, there’s no denying that. However - both our CEO and COO are deeply rooted in the craft beer industry, in different capacities.

They completely understand the everyday problems for brewers - mainly because they have been in the day-to-day operations and understand what it takes to keep a brewery running.

It was their own experiences that inspired them to build The 5th Ingredient and to create systems like Beer30, which are used to solve these problems, make life easier for brewers, and help them grow.


Where They Started - Pulkit K. Agrawal

Pulkit (PK) was always very good at science and math.

In late 2011, Pulkit moved to Boston to attend Harvard University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (SB) in Mechanical Engineering. During his time at uni, Pulkit got his first taste of entrepreneurship when he and a friend launched a startup called 'Careboxr', which was designed to deliver personalized care packages to students on campus during exam period, with an emphasis on mental health resources. It was also during this time that he did several software and tech internships, ranging from a local data science startup to big tech companies - like Microsoft.

It was in these internships that Pulkit decided that he wanted to try a different path to that of his peers who were going into finance, big tech, or consulting, and wanted to use his skill sets by focusing on machinery and mechanical equipment. He also knew that, down the road, he would want to follow his passion for entrepreneurship.

Just as he was considering his future, Ballast Point Brewing came to Harvard to recruit, and Pulkit thought this might be a super cool opportunity.

Off he went to the interview - making it perfectly clear he knew virtually nothing about beer. He was very honest about that. But he knew how things worked - and he loved the process of mechanics - and he was a fast learner. They took a chance on Pulkit - and it paid off.

He began by learning about the kegging line, bottling line, and canning line, along with projects in the quality department; and just over a year after he began at Ballast Point, Pulkit became the lead process engineer in charge of scaling their nitrogen beer program with bulk production in nitro kegging and nitro bottling.

In the process of creating their bulk nitrogen bottling production, he had full autonomy over the project and coordinated with over 12 different teams, both internal and external, to make it happen. In January 2017, Pulkit led the team to launch Ballast Point’s first ever nitro bottling run with a Nitro Red Velvet beer.

January 5, 2017 :: First bottling run of Red Velvet Nitro at Ballast Point Brewing.January 5, 2017 :: First bottling run of Red Velvet Nitro at Ballast Point Brewing.
Pulkit K. Agrawal :: Employee Research & Development Brew Day at Ballast Point Little Italy, San Diego, California, USA. (September 5, 2017)Pulkit K. Agrawal :: Employee Research & Development Brew Day at Ballast Point Little Italy, San Diego, California, USA. (September 5, 2017)

After traveling to Virginia to help with their expansion there, he decided it was time for a change, and Pulkit left Ballast Point in late 2017.

Pulkit wanted to do some travel, and as he is not one to waste productivity, Pulkit launched The 5th Ingredient to incorporate consulting into his travels. The four ingredients in beer are water, malt, hops, and yeast - and “The 5th Ingredient”, which is equally important is “data”. He began hitting up breweries in his hometowns of San Diego and Miami, and even internationally in Canada and Peru, offering consulting services. He sat down with many brewers, to talk through their issues and help them find solutions.

It was here that he made a discovery that would change the course of his career. All the breweries he was working with, even the large scale ones, were manually recording their process data in paper logs. When he asked for their data on brewing, fermenting, filtering, brite tank, and packaging - they handed over a binder, or a spreadsheet.

Pulkit decided there needed to be a better way to manage this data, to track, manage and modify the process.

He decided to create one - and Beer30 was born!


Where They Started - Ryan E. Allis

Things were a bit different for our other founder, Ryan. Alongside his love for beer, Ryan also loved science. He can still remember his 6th grade biology teacher, who helped foster his interest in how things are made.

He went on to study pre-med at Indiana University, before the major of ‘bioinformatics’ even existed. In his sophomore year, he attended a lecture on a new field of study opening at the university and it was there he was introduced to Informatics - the science of turning data and information into actionable knowledge.

Ryan was hooked! He promptly switched majors to request entry to The School of Informatics at Indiana University, the first school of its kind in the United States. From there, he was selected as a member of the pioneering class of the Informatics graduate program, where he graduated with a Master of Science in Bioinformatics.

Following graduation, he moved to California and worked for a biotechnology company focused on drug discovery and development for cancer reduction - and decided to leave after the company was acquired by a big pharma company. He spent the next several years in sales across various industries, gravitating towards the more scientific ones, like high power electronic components.

It was then that he got in touch with the owner of The Fat Cat Beer Company in San Diego, who contract brewed and distributed their own brand.

In addition to Ryan, the team consisted of the owner, a delivery man, and an admin receptionist. He worked with them to grow brand awareness and sell beer throughout Southern California. Soon they were consistently selling out of their top brands, and often scrambling to find places to brew in attempts to keep up with demand. It was here that Ryan sparked his passion for the industry.

In June 2017, Ryan co-founded Protector Brewery, San Diego's 1st and only Organic Beer Company. Together, him and 3 other owners built the brewery from the ground up - wearing all hats, including electricians, plumbers, and construction workers. After many months of incredibly hard work - they opened the doors, and suddenly Ryan was a brewery owner!

July 23, 2020 :: SD Hazy IPA, launched at Protector Brewery, San Diego's 1st Organic Beer Company.July 23, 2020 :: SD Hazy IPA, launched at Protector Brewery, San Diego's 1st and only Organic Beer Company.
Ryan E. Allis :: At the Grand Opening of Protector Brewery, San Diego, California, USA. (October 21, 2017)Ryan E. Allis :: At the Grand Opening of Protector Brewery, San Diego, California, USA. (October 21, 2017)

During this time Ryan was running his own consulting company to pay his bills - building websites and web apps for small businesses, as well as consulting on their sales strategies. Several months after the brewery opening, Sean Haggerty, Founder of Protector Brewery, said ‘Hey Ryan, you should meet this guy Pulkit. He’s got a really cool idea and I think you’d be interested in it.’


How they met

In January 2018, Pulkit was introduced to Sean Haggerty and Protector Brewery through a mutual friend, and Pulkit approached Sean to be an alpha customer of the Beer30 software. Sean saw Pulkit’s vision and immediately jumped on the opportunity to be an early adopter of the system.

Sean relayed his interest in the software to Ryan, suggesting he meet with Pulkit to give feedback on how it could help Protector. Busy with projects for his consulting business and working at the young brewery, Ryan had little interest - and little time - to find out more about the software.

After 6 weeks, while meeting with Sean to discuss brewery projects, Ryan asked to see the software - to ascertain how it could be used for Protector’s sales and distribution strategy. Looking at the software, they noticed a bug. Sean picked up the phone and called Pulkit, to report it. Ryan assumed it would be at least a few days before it would be fixed.

At this point Ryan had seen enough of Beer30 - he saw potential in the idea, but the software was far too raw and at too early of a stage for him to commit his time. Then, 30 minutes later, something happened that immediately changed Ryan’s mind. Sean’s phone rang, it was Pulkit calling back. He had fixed the bug and the tool was in working order. They pulled up the software, and low and behold, it was working! Ryan turned to Sean and said, “Ok, let’s set up that meeting.” Ryan agreed to a 30-minute meeting with Pulkit.

That 30-minute meeting became a two-and-a-half-hour meeting.

It involved heated discussions - where they debated various elements of the design and distribution process. They had contrasting ways of looking at things and different ideas and experiences - but this only made the discussion more interesting.

But most importantly, they were impressed with each other’s passion. Ryan was excited by Pulkit’s idea and recognized the need for it in the industry. Pulkit saw Ryan as someone who had the skills to help Beer30 achieve the growth needed for it to have a real impact on the industry - and make his dream come true.


How they became a team

Ryan and Pulkit had several follow up chats, in the weeks following that initial meeting. Ryan's role at this point was to mentor Pulkit, to help develop the Beer30 v2.0.

It was a busy time - and while Ryan still had his responsibilities with his own brewery and consulting work, he found himself up late at night, working to develop Beer30. He would send emails to Pulkit at 3am, not even realizing what the time was.

Then he realized - he was getting replies from Pulkit - at 3am. That was when it clicked.

They both loved this idea, this product. Their shared excitement meant they were on the same wavelength. Without even meaning to, Ryan had jumped headfirst into the project as he could see the value this software could provide. It would solve so many problems for brewers - and this was something he was really enthusiastic about.

Being in the industry himself, Ryan understood the everyday highs and lows for the brewer. He knew exactly what they were going through - like when changing a light switch somehow goes from a 30-minute task to a half day job - and how complications arise out of nowhere and disrupt efficiency.

He saw Beer30 as a way to help brewers stay on track, improve their processes - and ultimately grow their businesses by becoming more efficient.

And with that - the second version of Beer30 was launched - and Ryan officially joined The 5th Ingredient as COO.


Where they are going

Watching the huge growth of Beer30 and The 5th Ingredient has been incredible for both founders.

It’s been a trial by fire for both Pulkit and Ryan, and their main focus is to keep speeding up - it doesn’t get any easier, it just gets faster.

Pulkit and Ryan’s key goal for the software is to revolutionize data analysis within the industry. (No small feat!)

Advancements in technology mean that every day, new things are possible. Breweries have access to more data and more information than ever before - and it is invaluable.

These two see the potential for Beer30 to have a hand in completely changing the way people operate in the business, how they make their decisions, and how they can get the competitive advantage.

And as this growth is happening, there is definitely an added bonus on world domination! (Check out their real-time customer map here!) Beer30 is currently in 9 countries, and 23 US States.

Pulkit is loving the positive feedback they are getting from customers, who are based all around the world. He wants to focus on evolving with the times and constantly finding ways to improve the Beer30 experience.

Ryan wants to keep making an impact - and keep hearing those stories about how Beer30 has changed businesses for the better.

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