Brewpublik aims to deliver suds to Charleston’s tech scene

Daniel Island-based Benefitfocus is in the market for a new finance chief.

You could call it the startup industry’s service industry.

Brewpublik, a beer delivery startup based in Charlotte, is making a foray into Charleston this month with an eye toward tapping into the city’s tech community — by delivering beer to tech companies’ offices.

Here’s the idea: Having an office beer fridge is a hallmark of Silicon Valley startup culture, but someone’s got to keep it stocked — and figure out what everyone wants.

So Brewpublik designed a survey aimed at figuring out an office’s tastes. Workers fill it out, and the startup’s algorithm will pick a mix of craft beers that have been evaluated by the company’s “chief beer officer” — that’s a real job title. Then the company takes care of delivering bottles and kegs as needed.

The company got its start in late 2014 as a home beer delivery service, but it hasn’t decided whether to try that business here, said Samantha August, a co-founder and chief operating officer, who moved to Charleston last week to get business underway. Instead, it’s starting with corporate accounts, with an eye toward companies that already have beer in the office, and seeing whether the idea catches on with their employees.

Charleston is the company’s fourth city, after Charlotte, Raleigh and San Francisco, but it hopes to be in 10 markets by the end of the year, August said. They’re eyeing tech-heavy cities like Portland, Ore., and New York as potential markets.

Benefitfocus Inc. has temprarily turned over its chief financial officer role to its president after outgoing executive Milt Alpern retired at the end of March.

Alpern’s departure was announced in December, but the publicly traded Daniel Island-based company, which designs cloud-based benefits management software, hasn’t yet lined up a permanent successor though a search is underway, according to a filing this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Alpern, who has worked for the company since 2012 and helped shepherd it through its IPO a year later, will stay on as a consultant for the next year.

In the meantime, Raymond August, Benefitfocus president and chief operating officer — and, as it happens, the father of the aforemenioned Samantha August of Brewpublik — will head up the accounting and finance work. August joined Benefitfocus in — wait for it — in August 2014.

Speaking of executive searches, the deadline to apply for the top spot at the South Carolina Research Authority is coming up this week after longtime chief Bill Mahoney left the agency earlier this year.

The state-chartered research-and-development organization is looking for someone with at least 10 years of experience running a technology organization, preferably with experience at a start-up or early-stage company. The new director is expected to earn between $200,000 and $230,000 a year.

SCRA, which has about 30 employees, is tasked with boosting South Carolina’s high-tech sector and helping universities commercialize their research. It also invests in early-stage businesses through its SC Launch program. The agency is taking applications through Friday.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or follow him at @thadmoore.