Sobah Beverages co-founder Dr Clinton Schultz writes about building an Indigenous business from a garage to a $10 million valuation.
Sobah Beverages is an Aboriginal-led family business based on beautiful Kombumerri lands known as Gold Coast, Queensland, founded by myself and my wife Lozen. Sobah Beverages is an innovative scale-up business in the non-alcoholic adult beverages market that has experienced hyper growth over the past two years.
With the vision to establish Australia’s first purpose built non-alcoholic craft beer brewery, we have just successfully raised $1,000,000 through equity crowdfunding platform Birchal. A release of 10% of the business to a diverse group of everyday investors, this raise has secured Sobah’s $10,000,000 valuation. This is no small feat for a business that was started in the garage and kitchen of our home only four years ago!
After spearheading the non-alcoholic craft beer scene in Australia in 2017, we have achieved a very strong foothold in the local market with nearly 1000 vendors nationwide, including large retailers Dan Murphys and Coles supermarkets. Sobah has been procured by one of Australia’s largest hotel/resort chains, sourced for mining sites, and is included in employee rewards programs of some of Australia’s largest private firms.
For the first few years, we literally had our sanity questioned, and were even laughed at by friends, family, the craft beer industry, and the business world. Now we often have people asking what we feel has been the key to our success.
For us, the answer is simple: We have remained true to our cause, to our values, and to those people who have supported us from the start. Our story is genuine, and we live everything we promote. Not coming from a traditional business background, we work differently to many other businesses. We do what feels right and ethical.
Sobah is a social enterprise at its core – we exist to raise awareness and support of our ways, our knowledge, our languages, our foods and our healing modalities as First Nations peoples. That doesn’t mean we don’t intend to be profitable or that financial management isn’t a key ingredient of our ongoing growth and success. Quite the opposite. We completely understand that we have an opportunity to prove to big business that social responsibility is simply good business. More and more people are willing to part with money in support of great causes, businesses, organisations, and products that they feel have a bigger agenda than simply capitalist gain.
Our brand and our people are just as integral to our growth, profitability, and ability to give back. We consider how we can build the positive reputation of our brand and maintain the wellness of our people just as much as how we can sell more beer.
To be a great business manager or owner you don’t need to be great at everything to do with the business, you just need to attract the right people into the business. Before Sobah came about, Lozen and I both had run several micro businesses and we have learned a lot about working with people and for people over those years. Our success has been in being creative, being great researchers, and in motivating others to want to work with us by being true to ourselves and thinking beyond us as individuals. We’re also fortunate to have been able to meet like-minded people with excellent business skills that we’ve been able to harness for assistance when we’ve needed it.
Having a great set of advisors is very useful! We also believe having a good sense of financial literacy is an important skill when running a business. The basic interdependent thinking that comes naturally to First Nations peoples and business is something that standard ‘western’ business can also learn from.
To learn more, visit sobah.com.au