Lightning Minds · Michael Payne

Lightning Minds has been created as a dedicated Non Alcohol Beer brand. The idea is to create a positive balance in one's lifestyle.

March 10, 2023
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  • Lightning Minds
  • Michael Payne
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Started in 2022
  • 2 employees
  • Friends & family invested

Michael, what's your backstory?

I grew up playing a lot of basketball as I got into my teenage years I found skateboarding and fell in love with it.

The freedom of skateboarding and the friendships created were incredible experiences.

It was around this age I started my relationship with alcohol.

Both Basketball and Skateboarding are very reliant on footwear. I developed a passion for footwear at an early age. I was obsessed with sneakers in my teenage years.

As I got older and travelled to Europe I started to learn about dress shoes especially Italian made footwear. I was enticed by the craftsmanship and the quality.

I decided to open a men's footwear store called 'Gingers Gentlemen Shoe Boutique' in 2005. We created a brand of footwear 'Gingers for Gentlemen' that we assisted on the design of the shoes and had them manufactured in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

I ran this business for 15 years all the while maintaining a healthy social life of drinking and partying. My wife and I moved to Los Angeles in 2018, I had a role at Cole Haan's flagship store.

We returned in late 2019, and our plans to return were thwarted by Covid 19. It was also around this time after 15 years of running Gingers for Gentlemen we decided to not renew the lease as importing dress shoes during a lockdown was proving very difficult.

I began working in hospitality and started to realise my alcohol consumption was causing negative effects on my life. After an incident in which I ended up in hospital due to alcohol, I decided to stop drinking entirely.

This was a major change in my life as I had grown up with alcohol always around. After 6 months of not drinking I realised the benefits of Non Alcoholic beverages and how they helped me still socialise with friends and family whilst continuing to abstain from alcohol. I loved the idea of creating a brand.

So I started researching the Non Alcoholic beer sector and got together with a talented brewer in Fremantle and decided to create Lightning Minds.

What is Lightning Minds?

Lightning Minds' goal is to help create a positive balance in regards to alcohol.
I figured if non-alcoholic beer could help me continue socialising whilst remaining alcohol-free there would be others who feel the same.

How did you come up with Lightning Minds?

The name 'Lightning Minds' comes from the day I was walking home after another big night out, I had an epiphany-like moment in which I said to myself Im stopping drinking completely.

This was July 8th 2021, I haven't touched alcohol since. It felt like a strike of lightning hit me. The feeling of being clear-minded.

How did you go about building and launching Lightning Minds?

I reached out to a talented brewer in Fremantle - Matt Crockett. We worked together on developing a recipe. We tasted a lot of NA beers from around the world and worked out the flavour profile we were chasing. Matt did an amazing job on the recipe creation considering he'd never brewed an NA beer at that stage.

How have you grown the business?

Lightning Minds has been getting some great traction, it's been a real benefit with the rise of dedicated Non Alcoholic stores around Australia. Consumers are really coming on board with the growth of the sector.

Lightning Minds has been able to secure accounts with some incredible restaurants and bars around the country through word of mouth and contacts in the industry. There is a lot of growth to come, as we are in talks with some liquor store chains now.

What's your biggest selling beer?

Lightning Minds NA Pale Ale

Any big failures and learnings?

I'm continuously learning, as this is a new industry for me. Learning more about FMCG before I started this endeavour would have been very valuable.  

Understanding more in regards to transportation and logistics has been a steep learning curve. I look forward to continual learning.

What's next for you and your business?

We are looking to release our second beer as well as growing brand awareness with collaborations and sponsored events.

Your go to digital tools?

Asana, Mailchimp, and Zoom.

Any inspiring founder books you recommend?

Nina Simone's Gum - Warren Ellis

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek

Do Hard Things - Steve Magness

Sand Talk - Tyson Yunkaporta

Any podcasts you love?

James Altucher Podcast

Are We on Air Podcast

The Daily Stoic Podcast

Andrew Huberman Podcast

Prof G Podcast with Scott Galloway

Any quotes you live by?

"How you do anything is how you do everything".
Zen Buddhist

What do you love + hate about being a founder?

I love the creative side, coming up with ideas to increase brand awareness.
Being solo, it gets difficult as there is no one to run ideas by and discuss.

Any mental health tips?

Its become a very important part of my life, I speak regularly to a therapist which is very new to me and a great way to learn techniques.  I've dabbled with journaling as a way to get all my thoughts out, still need to be more disciplined in this area though. A great book I'm reading is Tools - by Phil Stutz.

What does it mean to be a founder

It's an amazing way to push your passions further and an incredible learning journey.

Any advice for other founders?

More research, and delve deeper into the sector you're entering. There is ALWAYS more to learn.

Your details, socials etc.



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