New Zealand brewing company Lion is again diversifying its business, this time moving into hospitality and opportunities in the gig economy.

The Auckland brewery is gearing up to launch a subscription software platform YOWO this month, a name inspired by the phrase 'you work your way', through an app that connects remote workers with hospitality venues to work from.

The platform was designed to give freelancers a place to work from without the fear of being moved along, and for cafes and eateries to benefit from additional trade during quieter periods. It will be free for venues to sign up to and cost $99 per month for a subscription.

YOWO is the first business to come out of Lion's ventures division, set up about 10 months ago to drive growth outside its core beverage business.


Monica Yianakis, head of Lion Ventures, said YOWO would drive additional revenue for the company and benefit workers across the country.

About 40 Auckland cafes, restaurants and hotels have signed on to the platform, including Honey Cafe in Takapuna, Hilton Hotel at Queens Wharf, Novotel at the airport and the Good Home Onehunga and Charlie Farley's.

Lion will test the technology in the Auckland market before rolling it out nationwide. It is targeting higher-end venues with interesting spaces.

"I'm really excited about the concept, for me, it feels like one that is hitting a genuine need in the market that's not being answered," Yianakis, who is the keynote speaker at this month's PwC Herald Talks event on the gig economy, said.

YOWO came about off the back of two months of research conducted by Lion Ventures and insights agency TRA which explored the changing shape of socialisation. It found that many Kiwis believe major changes are coming to how and where people will work.

Lion has been following progress and taking learnings from other organisations operating similar businesses both in the United States and Europe.

"Lion like any company knows it needs to evolve. Any company that's not evolving and continuing to disrupt itself is not facing the best future so for us Lion Ventures is just the start... we have a whole raft of ventures we are working on as well which we're excited to bring to market over the next six to 12 months," she said.

"When you look at the world of sociability the opportunities are endless."

Monica Yianakis, head of ventures at beverage company Lion. Photo / Supplied
Monica Yianakis, head of ventures at beverage company Lion. Photo / Supplied

Other ventures it is working on include concepts around wellness cafes, and clubs.

In December Lion acquired Wellington coffee brand Havana for an undisclosed amount. The company also operates Little Creatures, a craft brewery and hospitality outfit housed in a former Royal New Zealand Air Force hangar in Auckland's Hobsonville Point, Emerson's Taproom in Dunedin and the Fermentist, a restaurant and microbrewery in Christchurch.

Scott Wright, business development director at Lion, said the company was looking to embed itself if the gig economy to scale its business.

"If you think of Uber – it has a hugely successful transportation business, and doesn't own a single vehicle, or brands like Deliveroo who do food delivery, without owning a single kitchen. It's the same for YOWO and we'll be unlocking some amazing, underutilised spaces around New Zealand as the model grows."

PwC Herald Talks - The Gig Economy: Future of the Workforce
When: Thursday 30 May, 7-9am
Where: Victory Convention Centre, Auckland
Tickets: From or on iTICKET