200: How Growing With Oskar Blues Pushed Lilypad to 200 Clients
Oct 29, 2018
Written By: Matthew Bruner
Category: Craft Beer Sales Interview Series

Lilypad Client Spotlight

In September, Lilypad celebrated partnering with our 200th beverage alcohol client. Though we’re proud of the solutions and relationships we’ve built, we wouldn’t be anywhere without the shared wisdom of our partners. So to commemorate our growth to 200 clients, we spoke with our first bev alc client, Oskar Blues Brewery, about how our partnership changed the course of Lilypad history.

Prior to using Lilypad, Oskar Blues was struggling to use an ‘off the shelf’ tool jury rigged for their field sales team. Here’s Jenny Connolly, Senior Data Analyst for Oskar Blues (and now CANarchy), speaking about their growing pains.

“Before Lilypad, life was hell. There was no standardization for anything, it was all free-form fields with the intent of it being a CRM. We really pushed our team to use it, but even when they did, it was hard to get any valuable information back out of it. Meanwhile, we were growing at a rapid pace and the executive team was looking to me for more insights we could use to make smarter sales decisions.”

Left to right: Lyu, Eric, Jenny, and Pete at LP HQ from Lilypad’s Instagram

That all changed when Eric, Lilypad co-founder and CEO, was introduced to the sales leadership at Oskar Blues. At that point, Lilypad was industry agnostic, with clients spanning from Pharmaceuticals to Farming Equipment. When the Oskar Blues leadership team got their hands on Version 1.0 of Lilypad, they made it clear that with a little direction, Lilypad could be the perfect tool for their brewery sales team. Their enthusiasm was contagious, so we started listening and learning about their pain points.

They gave us a series of suggestions and we started building. Here’s Chris Russell, now VP of Sales for CANarchy, on the initial partnership:

“There was just a willingness, you know. He (Eric) would take our suggestions and say, ‘You guys want to do this? Let us try and go figure it out.’ A week or two later, he would come back and show us something. We would be like, ‘yeah, that’s exactly what we wanted to see, what about doing this now?’ and it evolved from there. It’s been a really cool partnership ever since.”

Fortunately for us, the Oskar Blues team guided us in the right direction. Their solutions turned out to be extremely repeatable for others breweries, so going forward we doubled down on listening to the industry. With every new brewery that was referred to us, we would go above and beyond to make sure we understood their pain points, and how they aligned with our findings from Oskar Blues. We learned there were common pain points, along with nuances that came with clients at different phases in their life cycle.

The Lean Startup Circle

In typical Lean Startup fashion, we would take this new feedback and iterate our product until we built something that got the job done for our partners. Here’s Chris again on collaborating in the early stages:

“I think the biggest thing is that he’s (Eric) listened a lot, not just to us but to a lot of other craft breweries, and that’s why you guys have seen the growth curve that you have. There’s just a good understanding of not only the way the business works but the unique challenges of managing a distributed team and selling in the three-tier system.”

Three years later and we haven’t stopped listening. We’re constantly receiving feedback from our 200 plus clients and pushing out new tools built specifically for their shared pains.

Oskar Blues booth in the CANarchy section of GABF 2018 from Lilypad’s Instagram

Now that Oskar Blues has evolved into the CANarchy Collective, a whole new world of collaboration has opened up between our teams. We’re fortunate to now be working with every brewery in the Collective, which has opened new opportunities to innovate. Chris and Jenny spoke with us a little about the transitioning business.

“The collaborative aspects of Lilypad have been a huge help as we bring together teams from multiple breweries. Unless our reps are in the market where the new CANarchy brewery is, they probably don’t have much exposure to them. It’s awesome for them to be able to go to the Social Wall and say, ‘man, this is what their point of sale looks like,’ or ‘holy crap, look how big some of those displays are!’ On the other hand, the new breweries that are brought into the fold are excited to show off their execution, kind of like, ‘this is how amazing we can look.’”

“As Pete (Lilypad CTO and co-founder) probably knows better than anybody, the challenges don’t always start with Lilypad. We integrate our entire data set into Lilypad, so naturally, there can be hiccups. Your support on the back end has always been wonderful, though. Like poor Nick (Lilypad Developer) haha. The amount of stuff that he deals with when we bring on a new brewery is crazy.”

Pete Ladis, CTO and co-founder at Lilypad shared, “We’re happy to do it for Oskar Blues, and all of our clients for that matter. They’ve been our partners in crime from the beginning and we owe so much of our early success to their feedback and collaboration.” Jenny and Pete are known for exchanging weekly calls discussing the intricacies of managing the data of six breweries at once.

The last thing we talked with Jenny and Chris about was the future of CANarchy and Lilypad. It was no surprise to hear that they were going to keep iterating and getting better. Here’s Chris on their next steps:

“One thing that I’ve always believed in, having been in the industry for a while, is that technology is how you get better and how you can beat your competition, honestly. When you can sit down with guys like Eric and Pete to figure out how to use technology to be more efficient as a sales organization – I know it sounds a little bit cheesy but it’s true – it helps us become better as we grow.”

We’re incredibly grateful to be a part of the growth at Oskar Blues, CANarchy, and all of our bev alc partners. Though the product has evolved and our team has grown, our commitment to listening to our clients remains the same. It always will.

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