Seattle’s geekiest beer-making company is raising more money.
PicoBrew has reeled in a $10.6 million investment round led by Spring Creek Investment Management, a Philadelphia-based family office that invests in food, agriculture, clean water, and other related industries. Total funding for PicoBrew is now more than $15 million.
The 6-year-old startup will use the fresh cash to fuel development of its at-home beer-making products, which include the original high-tech Zymatic beer-maker that allows amateur brewers to easily craft stouts, porters and IPAs on their kitchen countertops. The company calls it the world’s first fully automatic all-grain beer brewing system.
PicoBrew this month also began shipping Kickstarter orders for the Pico, a smaller, faster, and easier-to-use version of the Zymatic that is half the cost. The Pico is a nominee for Gadget of the Year at this month’s GeekWire Awards.
A key part of Pico is the PicoPak system, which features pre-packaged ingredient combinations available from brewers and breweries around the world. All the user has to do is fill a keg with water, load the hop and grain modules with the pre-packaged products, and hit “brew” — after brewing, the beer is fermented by adding yeast from the PicoPak, and then transferred to five liter serving kegs and carbonated.
PicoBrew also sells KegSmarts, a Wi-Fi enabled device that hooks up to a standard kegerator and provides information on an OLED display like temperature, quantity, and type of beer — all of which can be monitored and controlled from a mobile device.
Beyond manufacturing beer-making products, the company has built a community around what it calls the “PicoBrew BrewMarketplace,” which lets any brewer publish their beer ingredient combination and earn royalties on every sale.
“PicoBrew has executed on a very managed-growth strategy to date, but now it’s time to put our foot on the accelerator,” PicoBrew CEO Bill Mitchell told GeekWire. “We’ve worked hard with a lean pioneering team over the past five years creating the patented technologies, innovative product line, brewer partnerships, brand and reputation that set PicoBrew apart.”
PicoBrew, which recently won a CES Innovation Award for the second straight year, now employs 33 and expects to hire another 20 or so folks at its North Lake Union office by the end of 2016. The company was founded by Mitchell, who spent nearly two decades at Microsoft leading teams that developed PDAs, smartphones, and wearable computing; his brother, Jim; and Avi Geiger, another former Microsoft employee.