Non-alcoholic drinks that taste great. Would I Lyre to you?

To achieve any entrepreneurial vision, you’ll need a clear head – something UQ graduate Carl Hartmann can help you with.

The serial entrepreneur (Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Business Management ‘05) co-founded Lyre’s Spirit Co – non-alcoholic spirits company – so people could indulge in a drink and still drive home.

Now, off the back of his success with Lyre’s Spirit Co and other ventures, Hartmann has generously donated $50,000 as part of the Create Change Scholarship Match.

This cash-match enables him to set up a $100,000 endowed fund to give money to a future student facing financial hardship who wants to develop their entrepreneurial spirit.

The Carl Hartmann Scholarship for Future Entrepreneurs is UQ's first permanently endowed scholarship for entrepreneurial students.

For those gin hipsters whose noses turned up at the idea of non-alcoholic versions of their favourites, Hartmann promises that the botanicals remain just as flavoursome.

Lyre’s Spirit Co is an innovative beverage company that uses cutting-edge food science to recreate all the major alcoholic spirits in a non-alcoholic format. It has quickly become one of the fastest-growing new consumer products in the world, with distribution in over 45 countries – including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and China.

Hartmann revealed that more international regions were coming on board every month, such as Middle Eastern countries, Russia, and the Baltics.

And it’s just as popular on home soil.

“Our already extensive global distribution and growth plans is putting Lyre’s on track to be the most globally available Australian-made product – ever,” Hartmann said.

“At our current rate of growth, by the end of the year we expect to be in around 70 countries, growing to 100+ in 2022.”

“That’s more countries than you can find Tim Tams or Ugg Boots in!”

In May 2021, Lyre’s raised a further £5 million, bringing its total seed-round funding to £14 million (A$25.5 million) – the largest material investment on record for the booze-free category, and valuing the young business at over A$179 million.

Lyre has become the world’s most awarded line of non-alcoholic spirits and the key leader in the emerging segment, with more than 200 awards and medals, including numerous double gold and master levels.

A strategist even in his early university years, Hartmann structured his study path in a way that enabled him to graduate with two degrees and three majors.

He said the breadth and balance of his education helped him develop into the decision-maker he is today.

“You want a level of education that gives you a good grounding, as it makes you more rounded as a person,” Hartmann said.

Background image: Lyre's Spirit Co.

Carl Hartmann

Hartmann saw a gap in scholarship offerings for those who want to take a path that’s more focused on creation and outcomes, not necessarily going deep on a particular skill.

“Existing scholarships seem to be suited for when you’re an amazing athlete, musician or top-tier academic," Hartmann said.

“Where’s the person who set up an eCommerce store, or experimented with building a water-saving device, while they were in high school?”

“It should be more than just academia,” Hartmann said.

“The best students are probably not necessarily going to become the best entrepreneurs. This is where we have to think a little differently.

"Someone who gets perfect sevens [high distinctions], never socialises, or works all the time will likely not learn the social skills to hustle.

"If you don’t have hustle, grit or tenacity it is very difficult to become a successful entrepreneur. Rather, you need to be an expert generalist or expert conversationalist, and think a bit differently.

“Consider you’ve got some rocks and sticks. A traditional approach will mean you make a fire. An entrepreneur will make you an oven.”

Background image: Lyre's Spirit Co.

Three bottles of non-alcoholic spirits on a table next to a short cocktail glass.

Hartmann wants to make the scholarship part of a mechanism to make the impossible possible.

“We need to think about advancement more holistically,” he said.

“If every year we pick a winner – and that winner becomes great – their outcome will not necessarily be to get a job at a large multinational.

"Instead, hopefully, they’ll see the problem they want to solve in the world.

“If entrepreneurs hit a home run and hypothetically have a billion-dollar exit – they don’t need all that money. These people pay it forward.

“Having had the privilege of meeting some truly successful entrepreneurs it’s often not about the money anymore. These people get fascinated by causes instead."

"Take Richard Branson, for example, he has three conversation topics: saving the oceans, getting to space and ending the war on drugs.”

But Hartmann also knows first-hand how challenging establishing a successful startup can be.

He comes from a small town where access to education was not always easy, and he shares a strong belief in the importance and value of education for entrepreneurs.

Both Lyre’s founders are UQ graduates. Mark Livings is also a serial entrepreneur and multi-award winner like Hartmann, graduating in marketing management and economics (Bachelor of Economics; Bachelor of Business ’02).

Additionally, the founders of Carl’s other startup, Compono, are also UQ graduates.

Rudy Crous (Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Science ’05; Master of Organisational Psychology ’08; current PhD Candidate in organisational psychology) is a world-leading organisational psychologist, and together they have built the leading people decision-making technology for human resource leaders.

Hartmann and his co-founders are focused on building UQ’s first “unicorn” startups as they hope to exceed billion-dollar valuations over the years to come.

With the increasing pressures on graduates to find jobs, universities need to turn from not only creating job-ready graduates, but also job-creating graduates.

But while Hartmann and his co-founders are on their way to becoming global startup stars, Hartmann also wants to see future UQ students given a chance at entrepreneurship with the Carl Hartmann Scholarship for Future Entrepreneurs.

Let's drink to that!