07 Mar IU Angel Network invests in alumni-founded, sustainability-focused brewery
Portland, ME — The IU Angel Network has invested in Orange Bike Brewing – Portland’s first dedicated 100% gluten-free brewery and tasting room. The investment from the angel network, one of the major investment programs managed by IU Ventures, Indiana University’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm, will be used to help the brewery expand its production and distribution capabilities.
Orange Bike Brewing (OBB) was founded by Tom Ruff, an alumnus of the IU Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs with a passion for reimagining the beer business and making it more inclusive for individuals with gluten sensitivities and other underrepresented groups.
The investment from IU Angel Network holds additional special significance for Ruff, whose father was a professor at IU.
“I am thrilled and honored to have the support of IU Ventures and Indiana University,” Ruff said. “This investment is a testament to the hard work and dedication that our team has put into building OBB, and we are excited to continue to grow our business and make a positive impact in the community with purpose-driven beer.” In addition to raising the bar for delicious gluten-free beer, OBB is defined by its commitment to making a positive impact on the local community, welcoming Maine’s rich diversity of people in a spirit of hospitality, inclusivity, dign
ity, and friendship, and expanding the potential for meaningful new jobs for Mainers.
OBB recently began the intense and rigorous process to become B-Corp certified, which recognizes businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. Additionally, the company is a member of 1% for the Planet, an organization that supports environmental causes.
“Our mission is not only to create delicious, gluten-free beer, but also we believe that businesses can do well by doing good,” said Ruff, a best-selling author and founder of Tom Ruff Executive Search, a preferred recruiter for many of the country’s top pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
OBB has developed twelve recipes under the leadership of OBB consultant and award-winning master brewer, Alan Pugsley. Trained by master brewer Peter F. Austin, he has helped launch over 100 successful breweries worldwide.
OBB’s unique differentiators include brewing exclusively with gluten-free super grains. It does not use sorghum, syrups, added sugars or extracts, and its products include water from Maine’s Sebago Lake, which is one of only 50 water supplies in the U.S. that is so pure, it does not need filtration before treatment.
“We are impressed with Tom’s commitment to sustainability and accessibility in the beer industry,” said Jason Whitney, chief venture officer for IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network. “Orange Bike Brewing’s unique approach to gluten-free brewing is something we believe will resonate with consumers, and we are excited to see the company grow and succeed.”
OBB plans to open its brewery in 2023 in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood. The space will include a tasting room and an extensive outdoor beer garden. OBB’s 10-barrel facility will also allow the company to brew and ferment up to four beers at a time and operate a pilot system for limited release offerings.
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. IU Ventures is a recognized leader in increasing opportunities for diverse and historically underserved entrepreneurs and investing in Indiana startups with a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Emily Atkinson, PhD