Special Edition

How Orchestra Software Targets "Microniche" Markets To Manage Cloud Transition

Avery Brewing's bottling line
Avery Brewing's bottling line

Avery Brewing is one of Orchestra's customers. The Boulder, Colo.-based microbrewery, which brews craft beers such as Maharaja and White Rascal, began using OrchestratedBEER Enterprise in a private cloud in December 2012. Before that the company "was using QuickBooks and what I like to call the myriad of secret spreadsheets and multiple versions of the truth," said controller Conner Helton in an interview.

That wasn't cutting it with Avery Brewing's growth rate – the company now brews about 60,000 barrels a year and its sales growth has averaged 20 to 25 percent a year, Helton said. It's building a new facility with the capacity to brew 350,000 barrels of beer a year.

"So we started looking for other business management software solutions," Helton said. While Microsoft Dynamics, Sage and other apps were considered, "the OrchestratedBEER platform far more catered to craft breweries than anything we could find."

By using OrchestratedBEER Avery Brewing has improved the auditability of its finances and boosted profitability by gaining better visibility into its costs. On the production side it manages production planning and purchasing orders, and delivers better information about brewing yields. The system has 18 users with another half dozen to be added in coming months.

"It's really given a lot of power to the leadership of the company to make decisions faster," Helton said. "We didn't have that capability before. "It's pretty amazing what [the software] can do."

Orchestra can provide its cloud software to a small craft brewery with a single user for $649 per month. The average implementation for three users is running about $1,000 per month, plus about $9,500 for the initial implementation work including set up, training and data configuration. The company has developed standard application templates and database tools that it uses over and over. And a five-day online training course is provided the third week of every month.

Because all that requires so little on-site work, Orchestra can offer the apps to customers nationwide. That fits Windecker's business philosophy that for a solution provider to be successful, it must focus on industries, not geographic regions.

Windecker was mindful that Orchestra needed to grow its recurring revenue stream from small customers to a critical mass before its SaaS business became self-sustaining. And that's where the bigger on-site projects helped with the transition.

On-premises implementations of OrchestratedBEER require more resources and on-site work, including more complex database design, more customized work around business processes, on-site "go-live consulting" and on-site training.

An average implementation can generate about $100,000 in up-front revenue, according to Windecker, plus annual maintenance fees, up-sell opportunities such as reporting applications, iPad apps, and other revenue-producing opportunities. Overall, a large implementation can bring in $250,000.

Windecker's strategy has been to take on approximately one such Enterprise project per month, essentially subsidizing the small-but-growing cloud subscription revenue, to help keep Orchestra's cash flow healthy.

The approach has allowed Orchestra to remain self-financing. Otherwise, Windecker says, the company would have had to raise outside capital through either borrowing or selling equity stakes in the company to support its growth.

The recurring cash flow from the subscription business is now large enough to sustain the entire company, according to Windecker. But he plans to continue leveraging the growing enterprise business to support Orchestra's overall growth.

Orchestra's revenue more than doubled to $2.5 million in 2013 from $1.2 million the year before. The company has 23 employees and Windecker is adding developers, consultants, and sales and marketing personnel to its employee ranks.

"Managing the growth is an incredible challenge," he said. Nevertheless, the company still does everything itself: No outsourcing of development or customer support work.

In addition to selling its software in the U.S., Orchestra offers OrchestratedBEER in Canada through SAP partners there (who have expertise in local accounting, taxes, reporting and other requirements) and will begin offering it in the U.K. later this year through an SAP partner there.

While the company obviously has a Website (www.orchestrasoftware.com), the company has also sought to build the OrchestratedBEER brand by creating the www.orchestratedbeer.com site.

Orchestra's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. The company was a recipient of SAP's Global Innovation Award for Industry Solutions and the vendor's North American Regional Partner Excellence Award 2014 for Marketing Best Practices.

While the company has focused on its craft brewery business, the company has a handful of customers using its on-premises OrchestratedFUEL applications and Windecker's long-range plans call for offering cloud applications for that industry.

Orchestra, meanwhile, continues to innovate. The company recently developed an iPad OrchestratedBEER application that can be used on sometimes-messy brewery production floors. And it's piloting a version of its applications running on SAP Business One version for SAP HANA, with plans to bring the performance of that in-memory database technology to Orchestra's customers by the end of this year.

Later this year and in 2015 Windecker plans to enter new markets, such as the rapidly growing craft distillery (OrchestratedSPIRITS) and craft cider (OrchestratedCIDER) markets, as well as the wine industry (OrchestratedWINE) and even juice producers (OrchestratedJUICE). The expansion is "made possible by the continued growth and success of our enterprise business," he said.