Indigenous startup and recent recipients of an Advance Queensland Deadly Deals grant, Sobah Beverages are not your ordinary craft brewers.
Based on the Gold Coast, they are Australia’s only producer of locally brewed, non-alcoholic craft beer infused with bush tucker ingredients.
Headed up by Gamilaroi man Clinton Schultz and his wife Lozen McDiarmid-Schultz, the Burleigh Heads business made its first big break when it launched a crowdfunding campaign on Pozible.
It was this campaign that the dynamic duo attribute to not only raising enough capital to launch Sobah Beverages commercially in a can, but also to creating the community that has become the backbone of their brand.
“The Pozible campaign was a turning point for Sobah, it helped us commercialise our product, but more importantly, helped us grow our audience and create a strong community around our products,” Lozen said.
“This community has become key for our success, it has provided people who don’t drink alcohol a place to share in the comradery and community that surrounds the craft beer industry, allowing them to still feel a part of a group.
“We have been overwhelmed with the following Pozible has created, we now have a strong network of fans, retailers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that provide endless support for our products and our vision.”
What’s equally impressive about Sobah’s niche offering of products, is their socially conscious approach to business.
This savvy husband and wife team are just as passionate about helping the community as they are about their products and through their company, they are aiming to raise money to establish holistic drug and alcohol healing programs.
“Our real passion is in well-being and in this space, we intend to support organisations and strategies that are working in ways to help people and communities HEAL from pains caused and losses experienced,” Clinton said.
“We want to help create further spaces for traditional, spiritual and culturally influenced choices and healing opportunities and are leading a conversation surrounding Australian societal issues with alcohol consumption and breaking down the stigma of socialising sober.
“We promote healthy lifestyle choices and wellness, social equity, sustainability, raise positive awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, smash stereotypes, unite people and of course, quench thirst with our beers.”
Sobah Founder Clinton Shultz said connections made through Advance Queensland, including with Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp, and the Deadly Deals grant will help them take their brewing to the next level — and their sights are set on international markets.
“This Deadly Deals grant will help us turbo-charge our business with the purchase of a pasteuriser, supporting us to create more great beers and other non-alcoholic adult beverages that can be shipped anywhere in the country, or world,” Clinton said.
“We have experienced steady growth since we commercialised in early 2018, but it has been 2019 where the real interest in non-alcoholic craft beverages has gathered steam.
“We are keen to continue supporting the craft and independent vendors and retailers, and we have had recent interest from some larger premium retailers. They want a consistent and reliable supply of quality, unique products.
“We plan to expand internationally, with New Zealand and the United States at the top of the list.”
The purchase of the pasteuriser will not only allow Sobah to tap into export markets, but it will allow the business to grow and create jobs. They will also look to provide other beverage producers access to the pasteuriser as a commercial operation that will support the growth of other businesses.
“As this equipment allows us to increase production, we need to consider additional roles not only within the warehouse, manufacturing and operating of equipment but also on the administration side of our business operations,” Clinton said.
While Sobah continues to grow and expand their brewing business, Lozen points out it has not been an easy ride to success.
“We’ve found ourselves in an industry in which neither of us had training or long-term experience, so every milestone has been challenging but also rewarding,” Lozen said.
“We have experienced ups and downs and learnt on the job — we’ve also made a lot of mistakes in the past two years and are constantly seeking ways, such as mentorship, to ensure we grow in a way that minimises costly mistakes.”
This thirst to be guided on their entrepreneurial journey and take their startup to the next level saw Sobah apply, and be named the second round winners of the Adopt-a-Chief program.
“The Adopt-a-Chief program was an ideal opportunity for us to gain invaluable mentorship from someone with a wealth of knowledge and experience. As the Chief Entrepreneur and a success in her own right, Leanne offered a great level of experience in this area,” Lozen said.
“Her expert guidance allowed us to explore a range of topics to assist in taking Sobah to the next level — from employment and human resource practices, to securing investors, growth and expanding globally — ensuring we have the right contacts and follow the right steps from the start, to hopefully avoid more challenges later on.”