Take 5 with Natalie Waggett
On tap with Ohanafy's Natalie Waggett
NATALIE WAGGETT was just four years old when she was running the cash register at her father’s business in War, West Virginia where she spent a lot of her childhood. Today, Waggett is CEO of her own company Ohanafy delivering software that is laser-focused on the craft beverage industry.
The customized software solution is built on the cloud-based customer relationship management software Salesforce and delivers end-to-end management tools specifically for the craft beverage industry from production to sales. Operators can examine data and garner insights on inventory, equipment maintenance, raw materials and suppliers, delivery and routes, and sales functionality. The software has the goal to make it easier for these entrepreneurs to run their businesses and show their performance to potential investors.
“Customers adopting our software will have a distinct competitive advantage,” predicts Waggett.
Waggett came to Wilmington in 1993 to attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington, graduating with a degree in business administration while working nearly full-time at Bank of America. She and her late husband Dane, who she described as a serial entrepreneur, owned a retail casket store, a snow cone concession trailer, an auto detail shop, a power washing company, and a seafood market. “His gift was dreaming it. Mine was making it operationally sound,” Waggett says.
After graduation, Waggett worked her way up at the bank from teller to personal banker to wealth advisor eventually becoming vice president. When mergers in the banking industry forced layoffs, Waggett took a role at nCino in telemarketing. “In order to move forward, sometimes you have to take a step back,” she says. “So I translated my experience across banking and finance to technology.”
Six years ago, Waggett entered what she called her “crazy phase” when her husband passed away after a ten-month illness. “I didn’t know if I would survive. How would I even breathe?” she says. Waggett quit her job and moved her son to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where she dove into the consulting world, the breath of fresh air she needed to move forward. A short time later, determined to do something meaningful in her community, she obtained her real estate license.
Earlier this year, Waggett reconnected with a friend from high school, INEZ RIBUSTELLO, who owned a brewery in Tarboro, North Carolina. Ribustello was going beyond selling good beer. She was selling purpose. The amount of reinvestment in her community was phenomenal. Ribustello’s business was attracting new entrepreneurs to take a chance on the town. Waggett also saw the challenges of the brewing industry firsthand.
At 3 a.m. one morning something clicked. Waggett walked into her now-business-partner IAN PADRICK’S office whom she had first met at nCino. “I said I have our product. I knew Salesforce had all the juice we would need to make breweries more effective and more profitable, enabling them to reinvest in their communities,” she recalls.
With co-founders CHRIS DOWLING, DAVIS BRYSON, and MATT KEETER on board, software development started in June 2022 and Ohanafy hired its first full-time employee, customer success manager MACKENZIE FENN. “We have nine early adopters who put faith and trust in our software. We will not let them down,” she says happily, noting that there are another 347 breweries in North Carolina.
Waggett’s no-fail attitude comes from her parents. “My dad always told me you can do anything. My parents were a tremendous gift,” she says filled with emotion.
Waggett’s son FISHER is her steadfast motivation.
In her free time, Waggett loves to go to the beach, watch sunsets over the river, and hang out with her mom. “What a beautiful perspective I get from her generation. I’ve learned the value of being around friends and family. I rarely travel because I love where I live. Why leave this?” she says.
There is still a part of Waggett’s ego that wants the chance to ring the bell on Nasdaq. “But my dream right now is to continue to help further the purposes of the people we are serving. I dream of building an ecosystem, unifying the entire craft beverage supply chain. To me, that will be success.”
Waggett says it is amazing what has happened in her life. She concludes, “If I can light a fire under one woman with a message of hope, it is that the universe and God have your back. If you believe in something, pursue it. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”
Take 5 with Natalie Waggett
What does your software do? “We have customized the cloud-based customer relationship management software Salesforce to deliver end-to-end management tools specifically for the craft beverage industry from production to sales. Operators can look at data and garner insights on inventory, equipment maintenance, raw materials and suppliers, delivery and routes, and sales. Our software makes it easier for craft beverage manufacturers to run their business and to show their performance to potential investors. Ohanafy customers adopting our software will have a distinct competitive advantage.” Why the craft beverage industry? “A brewery has the capability to become the heart and soul of a community, attracting people with common interests. Breweries are, first and foremost, a social outlet, a place to kick back inherently designed to bring you home again and again by offering social habitats to taste and join together as human beings. And craft beverage manufacturers have not demanded the innovation they need to be successful because most don’t know how to ask for it.” What was your aha moment? “I had visited my high school friend in my hometown of Tarboro. I was moved by the tenacity and grit she used to run her own brewing company and the community she had developed. I also saw some of her challenges firsthand. At 3 a.m. one morning, something clicked. I walked into Ian’s office and told him that I had our product. I knew Salesforce had all the juice we would need to make breweries more effective and more profitable, enabling them to reinvest in their communities.” You don’t fear adversity. Why not? “I welcome adversity. It’s where I grow and become better. Adversity has forced me to look at myself and be grateful for my experiences. I am walking a path with constant validation that I’m on the right one.” What is your dream for Ohanafy? “My one dream right now is to further the purposes of the people we are serving. Our long-term strategy is to attract people to Ohanafy who can add value in this industry as well as attract related industries to plug in. I dream of building an ecosystem, unifying the entire craft beverage supply chain. To me, that will be success.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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