Lyre's Takes its Mocktails to L.A., Aiming for a Health-Conscious Market

Leslie Ignacio

Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.

Lyre's Takes its Mocktails to L.A., Aiming for a Health-Conscious Market

Lyre's wants to sell Americans on clear-headed drinking with their faux bourbon and other mocktail spirits. The Australian-based company set up North American offices in Los Angeles last year and has aggressively sought to make a mark in the Golden State. And it seems to be working; the company just raised $11.5 million.

Lyre's has hitched its success to the growing "sober curious" movement, focusing on health-conscious consumers with its dry month challenges. About 60% of the company's sales come from the United States and it's increasingly looking for tastemakers in Southern California to help build its brand.


"We believed that there was significant latent demand in the U.S. market for consumers looking for a sophisticated non-alcoholic alternative," said Christian Butler, Lyre's Los Angeles-based senior vice president told dot.LA. Some bars in Los Angeles have adopted the mocktail, a trend that he hopes will influence the rest of the country.

Founders Mark Livings and Carl Hartmann created the non-alcoholic drink line in 2016 catering to those who might be left out in social settings where booze is flowing. Lyre's mission is driven by a focus on health and lifestyle, allowing consumers to enjoy the best of both worlds while being responsible.

"Our business anticipates and matches the trends of the consumer and culture and our current product innovation is being developed to match alcohol spirit flavors and styles," said co-founder Livings in the announcing statement.

The seed round will be divided into three tranches and be distributed over the next 12 months. The company is backed by Doehler Ventures, DLF Venture, Maropost Ventures with several European, American and Australian family offices and also HNWI participating.

Lyre's has a line of 12 fake alcoholic beverages, from amaretto to gin and rum, that are sold at Bevmo, Amazon, at some Los Angeles bars and directly online. The drinks aren't cheap at $35.99 for a 700 ml bottle.

Although the pandemic depressed sales, the company said since January it has seen a monthly 400% recurring revenue growth. The recent raise will allow Lyre's products to expand their market reach as they set to launch an Italian Spritz in the U.S. market later this year and develop a line of ready-to-drink mocktails like gin and tonic or bourbon and cola.

According to a report by Nielson, the non-alcoholic beer market had an increase of 3.4% in the last year. Lyre's also looking to compete by expanding to other countries.They are currently available in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and throughout Europe.

"The next year demarcates our business evolution from a start-up to a true multi-national beverage company, with manufacturing in multiple, global locations, compliance for new markets, and continued recruitment firmly at the top of our task list," said Hartmann in the announcing statement.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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