Crafting Brewery Efficiency, One Pint at a Time

In this FOUNDER FEATURE, we’re catching up with Shea Martin, the visionary CEO and founder of Brew Ninja. Brew Ninja isn’t just another software solution – it’s a game-changer tailored specifically for breweries to simplify and streamline their day-to-day operations. Brew Ninja entered Cultivator’s GROW program in January of 2021 and later transitioned into SCALE, a program for founders who are fully committed to their startup, are focused on scaling up, are showcasing significant traction, and hitting major milestones. From its roots in Regina to its expansion across North America, Brew Ninja has become an essential and trusted tool for breweries everywhere. Shea’s vision has truly made its mark on the brewing industry, one pint at a time.

Here are some of the questions we brewed up for Shea…

For those who are unfamiliar with Brew Ninja, what can you tell us about your company?

Brew Ninja makes software that streamlines the day-to-day operations of your brewery, including inventory, accounting, sales, reporting, and compliance, so that you can focus on making great beer. Without the marketing jargon, we are an ERP for beverage makers. Brew Ninja was started in Regina, and has grown into a remote team across Canada. Over the last few years, we have grown across North America to serve breweries in 3 different countries, and a brand that is recognized in the brewing industry.

What led you down your path to becoming a founder?

I had always enjoyed building things. In university, I realized that I enjoyed building software that made other people’s lives easier, and that owning my own software company was the best way to do that. I put that dream on hold for a number of years for career and family reasons, though I was always tinkering with ideas. Through my career, I always took note of different management styles, how business owners, and C-level executives interacted with employees, and the effect it had. I was lucky enough to work for both large companies, and small ones, so I got to see a good cross-section of leadership styles. I started keeping a mental notebook on what I would like to take from each. I had an ex-colleague start a brewery, and being interested in craft beer, I started dropping in to see how things were going. I realized that some of the problems he was having, I had solved in other industries. The final straw was when my colleague stood me up for drinks one night because he was working late doing up the monthly production numbers for the brewery. When he showed me what he was working on the next week, I realized that software could have solved the problem in seconds for him. I realized that this was a great intersection of passion and skillset, which indicated to me that this was a chance to make my entrepreneurship dream a reality. I built a prototype and showed it to the brewery. After some time working through the kinks, I decided to turn it into a product and start selling Brew Ninja.

How does Brew Ninja differentiate itself from any other existing or similar products in the market?

Focus and customer support. There are products with a similar feature set to Brew Ninja, but we really focus on making the running of the brewery smoother. An operating system for your brewery. While we do have feature parity, we put more effort into areas that reduce friction on the business side of things, such as helping with accounting, reporting, and compliance, but also providing a workflow from sales through fulfillment and purchasing through production. Some of our competitors require an expensive accounting package (SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) to function, whereas we offer an optional accounting integration with QuickBooks. These competitors can only focus on the top 10% of the market (size-wise). It is interesting that we are an ERP for a brewery, tracking inventory, sales, purchasing, compliance, etc. But when we poll our customers on what they like most about Brew Ninja, one of the most common responses is, “You solved our communication problems” and “The customer service is amazing.” In terms of resolving communication issues, we obviously did not set out to do so: our competitors are much more focused on production and quality control, whereas we find that small-medium sized breweries are not really struggling with much other than running their business efficiently, so that is where our focus is – really being a hub for their entire staff. With regard to customer service, one of the words we like to use is “remarkable” (I stole this from a small business owner I worked for). Our customer service should be good enough that one brewer will use it as a conversation item when speaking to another brewer. It is an indictment on the software industry that simply having good customer service is remarkable, but we will gladly take advantage of that. While the first version of our product was simply checking off a list of features, Brew Ninja has now matured to the point where our product team is revisiting many of these features and elevating them from “good enough” to “wow.” And now, when we close new deals, the customer frequently cites “ease of use” as a reason they chose Brew Ninja. That is a really good feeling.


Brew Ninja is designed to simplify your business. It streamlines your day-to-day operations and allows all staff to contribute to the success of the brewery!


Where do you see Brew Ninja headed in the future, and what do you hope to achieve in the industry?

Make the customer say, “Wow.” Everyone on the team loves it when we get feedback from a customer praising a new feature or a refinement to an old feature. It has become part of our culture. To be known as the easy-to-use operating system for your brewery is the goal. Having said all that, we need to generate revenue to make this happen. Brew Ninja has customers in adjacent verticals such as kombucha, distilleries, cideries, and even wine. The vision is to eventually look to these verticals more. We have also investigated, and ear-marked other geographies for expansion when the time is right. We are just in the process of building a solid sales team. We started with founder-led sales and added an account executive to help out. The result has been steady sales, and we have built out processes with known conversion rates that are really good. From the middle of the funnel down, we are great, but with everyone wearing multiple hats, the result is that we really aren’t filling the top of the funnel fast enough. The exciting part is that we know the math, and by adding these resources, we will be able to drive the sales, which will be used to fund the aforementioned goals.

Tell us a bit about your experience and how Cultivator has impacted Brew Ninja’s journey.

I never meant to launch a “startup.” In fact, I am not even sure I knew what the term meant when I first started thinking about Brew Ninja. Having just moved to Regina and just started on Brew Ninja, I began to explore the business community in the Queen City. I was introduced to Jordan McFarlen, who was in the early stages of building what would become Cultivator (yes, it had no name yet!). A handful of companies (including us) started working out of an empty office space at the U of R. It was really beneficial to work alongside those companies as they grew (and some perished), and it was appropriate that Cultivator was going through the same process. We went through this growth as a group and really established a culture of being open and solving problems with each other. Having that support at the time was critical to Brew Ninja. In my experience (an opinion), I think this is in contrast to other startup environments where bravado prevails over transparency. In these types of environments, entrepreneurs can be reluctant to be vulnerable enough to share the problems they are experiencing, thus missing out on the opportunity to leverage the group for suggestions based on their experiences. The current staff at Cultivator have done a great job at preserving that culture of transparency and cooperation. I know I will always stay in touch with many of the other founders and Cultivator staff, and it will always be mentioned in the Brew Ninja history books.

We can’t thank Shea enough for sharing his time and personal insights with us to complete this feature. We are extremely lucky to have Shea as part of our Cultivator family. We will always be cheering him on and rallying behind the Brew Ninja team as they SCALE to the next level!

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