Brewbot: a Revolution in Brewing Craft Beer
If coffee is the beverage that gets us going in the morning to give us energy for any tasks ahead, what beverage helps us relax after a long day at work?
Nothing like a cold beer, right?
The beer industry is dominated by famous brands like Heineken, Amstel, and Guinness. But beer lovers especially enjoy craft beers.
Well, a Belfast-based team, lead by Chriss McClleland, made brewing your own beer into a reality. They combined their knowledge of technology, their love for craft beers and passion for brewing into one product. The result?
Brewbot, a machine for brewing beer, controlled by an app.
That’s right, Brewbot is an app that helps anyone wanting to brew their own beer a reality from the comfort of their own homes - all made available through the small piece of technology we carry on a daily basis.
This is a story about a man who followed his passion for craft beer and used his knowledge to become a revolutionary inventor.
The Irishman: a Story That Deserves a Scorsese Movie, Too
Chriss McClleland was born in 1982 in Enniskillen, a very small town in Northern Ireland. He knew that his talent and creativity would be a prerequisite to do big things in life from a very young age.
Still, he was convinced that he would be successful no matter what road he took in life. Since he had a love for music, after finishing his primary education at Portora Royal school, he decided to join the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - a world class institution providing training for musicians. He was seemingly doing pretty well considering he even won a prize for one of his compositions.
In 2004 he joined the Queen’s University in Belfast where he earned a Phd in music composition. However, he still had an interest in tech, which is what prompted him to continue studying music through the lens of custom score software development.
A Tech-Savvy Musician
Aside from being a music aficionado, Chriss had a big interest in technology and computers, as well as business and entrepreneurship. All the way back in 1999, he founded his first website, freebuthappy.com - an online community for the promotion and publication of new music.
In that regard, he was ahead of his time in both tech and business. And he was quite successful as well, obtaining a good number of composers and musicians that wanted to promote their music online.
While at university in Belfast, he became a lecturer, delivering courses in computer music that included live performance systems, computer programming for musical applications, sound synthesis and signal processing, fundamentals of sound, synthesis and processing. He was also a research assistant at the university, specifically interested in custom programming. At the same time, he was a member of the Integra scientific team, involved in the development of the Integra software platform.
As successful as Chriss may have seemed at the time, his story was yet to begin.
Now Let’s Make Some Beer
In 2009, Chriss became the CEO of a tech company called Ecliptic labs. They offered a range of services, including development, user research, design for over 11 million users, and helped create mobile apps for startups. At the same time, he was a technical advisor for Performa Sports LTD.
Afterward, he founded a company called Cargo that designed and developed mobile applications.
In 2013, he came to an idea that would later change his personal and professional life. As a lover of craft beer, Chriss realized that the beer choices on the market were very limited since most of the market was controlled by giant corporations. He shared this frustration with some of his colleagues, and presumably, a few beers later, they put their skills to the table - and an idea was born.
They began experimenting by making their own beer, which soon became a motivator to start their own brewery. This is what prompted Chriss to ponder on an even better invention - their own beer brewing machine.
In the same year, Brewbot became a reality.
Even though they all had the know-how to technically master the machine, brewing the actual beer turned out to be quite time-consuming. It involved looking at many thermometers, wasting time measuring out ingredients, and making sure to get the timing on each batch right. Turns out, brewing manually took a very long time to master.
However, since Chriss and all of his friends were technically talented, they decided to try something else - an app.
The Birth of Brewbot
The team led by Chriss started a new company under the same name as their machine, Brewbot.
It seemed like a reach at the beginning. But after a lot of thinking, brainstorming and time-consuming hard work, everything they needed to reach for was a phone.
It took them countless attempts, a lot of beer taste tests, and many sleepless nights until they perfected Brewbot. In the midst of all the difficult and tiresome days, Chriss was the main motivator and locomotive of the train - and getting off was not an option for anyone on board.
That train had one destination and the destination was a successful and revolutionary product.
Eventually, they perfected every finesse of the app, its connection to the beer brewing machine, and its detailed features. They came up with additional ideas for customers, such as offering pre-made recipes and offering a forum for users to share recipes between them.
Chriss was involved in every bit of the process - from the tiniest technical intricacies to designing the machine to fit into a standard kitchen.
It wasn’t long before Brewbot grabbed people’s attention. Its innovativeness became a success even in its early days of release. It wasn’t long before Brewbot became one of the most successful Kickstarter projects in the UK.
In fact, it raised over £110,000 in the first month of its release. This quickly garnered attention from big investors, and it wasn’t long before Brewbot received additional funds to help further the product in more locations.
Eleven investors believed in Chriss’ ideas, investors like Michael Birch and FG Angels. Other investors include SparksLab Global Ventures, Haller Capital, Techstart Ventures, Techstars Austin Accelerator as well as Federico Pirzio - Biroli, Jason Seats, Jeff Heitzman and Euan Guttridge. Together, they raised over $1,500,000 in total funding.
The praise for the idea didn’t stop at just investors. A number of media outlets took notice of Brewbot. It received praise across multiple global media giants like the New York Times, Wired, Fast Company, and even the Discovery Channel - all praising the genius of Chriss and his six friends.
Soon after, the company partnered with Caroline and Nelson Santos, founders of Mette, as well as James Lamb, one of the design engineers at Dyson Appliances. They also established partnerships with many breweries across the world, including the Russian River Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery, The Woodworkers, and others.
Tale as Old as Time
Chriss’ idea is one out of simple frustrations - specifically, the need to drink good beer. It’s ideas like those that tend to flourish into fantastic projects.
The story of Brewbot is one of incredible perseverance and talent, with an everyday Joe in the middle of it all. After all, it began as an experiment between seven friends in a basement that took the world by storm - getting backed by business giants and investor moguls across the globe.
Brewbot is a revolutionary product in the industry of craft beer and it makes every beer lover's dream come true with one simple purchase. What started as an idea amongst friends and colleagues, turned into a successful innovation led by the founder and CEO - Chriss McLelland.
This is an inspirational story for enthusiasts in any industry. With one spark of creativity and a lot of hard work later, he is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in all of Northern Ireland.
All it took is one pitch(er)!