Konvoy, Adam Trippe-Smith’s two year old keg rental venture, raised $30m late in 2021. The funds will support its expansion into the lucrative European market where there are next to no keg rental services as well as to the highly competitive US and UK, all ahead of its planned IPO in the next 18-24 months.
Konvoy’s red kegs are fitted with a beacon, welded to the top and strong enough to act as a handle once in place. This beacon acts as a tracking device and thermometer, measuring the temperature of the keg which correlates closely with the draught beer, seltzer or pre-mixed spirit inside.
Mr Trippe-Smith plans to head to the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America in Minneapolis in May and to Drinktec in Munich in September to launch Konvoy’s technology arm, Katch and introduce the tracking technology which is already in operation in Australia.
Germany will be a key target market in Europe with approximately 1,500 brewers owning their own kegs under traditional models.
As far as the rest of Europe, Mr Trippe-Smith paints the picture: “Kegstar has a small presence in the Netherlands and there is a new start up in France called Solukeg that hasn’t launched yet,” he explains.
Across Australia and New Zealand, Konvoy has a fleet of 200K kegs and a customer base of 560 breweries, as well as around 250 beer and other product brands.
Mr Trippe-Smith sold his business Kegstar to logistics company Brambles in 2015. Seven years on, the technology needed to produce the beacons has now advanced significantly and become more affordable.
Mr Trippe-Smith says Konvoy is a natural extension for him and his partners; a logical next step.
“Konvoy is a platform and brand where we have taken our learnings from Kegstar, simplified the model, and improved the transparency and the technology,” he says.
“Katch is its own separate brand and has its own team using data intelligence and helping keg owners to get their kegs back faster.”
The beacon was designed by industrial designers, Unabiz in Singapore, and the IP belongs to Konvoy. It is resistant to steam and to acid, the battery is able to be turned off and the battery life of ten years is in sync with the service cycle of the kegs to which they are fitted.
In addition to keeping a track of kegs, the thermo-tracking in the beacons means that kegs sitting in hot warehouses can be salvaged when email alerts are sent to suppliers advising them of the rising keg temperature and its location.
The kegs are also product and batch capable, meaning brewers can drill into the data and learn more about which products and batches are performing best.
For breweries, the tracking beacons are hugely advantageous with no need to scan each keg via a smartphone and the data is sent directly to Konvoy. This makes the business, Mr Trippe-Smith says, a first in the world.
“It has no barcode, so draught beer has never been tracked. We are the first to build the data set,” he says.
He also says that Konvoy’s “one way rental” agreements make it a more sustainable business model. For example, kegs leave a Sydney brewery to a Melbourne pub and are then sent to a Melbourne brewery, rather than returning to Sydney.
“From the brewery to the pub, to us. We run one way rental to move the kegs as quickly as possible, to free up palettes, deliver fresh cold beer and get those kegs in and out of the pubs as quickly as possible,” says Mr Trippe-Smith.
Adam Trippe-Smith said, “It’s incredibly exciting to have this $30m capital raise complete and now we can push forward with our ambitious plans to expand our keg assets, innovate our technology, expand internationally and continue to paint the Australian states red with our eye-catching kegs. For us the key focus is still around customer relationships and garnering trust and building those in Australia and New Zealand.”