This week we talk to Linda Monique, founder of Almo Milk, an almond milk brand, which launched in 2015 when Linda spotted a gap in the market for Australia-grown almond milk. As one of 75,000 Australians suffering from Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, Linda struggled with severe digestive issues and it was this situation that inspired her to develop an Australian-sourced almond milk entirely free from questionable additives, sugars and starches.
Despite being such a young business Almo Milk has already secured distribution contracts across three countries and has achieved a 330 per cent annual growth rate, while supporting over 85 per cent of Australia’s almond growers. This success resulted in Linda being named the 2017 Telstra Victoria Young Business Woman of the Year.
ISB: What was the inspiration behind launching an almond milk business?
LM: Rewinding back to 2014, where almond milk had just become a mainstream, plant-based alternative in the US, I realised Australia grew some of the highest quality almonds in the world. As a dairy free consumer, I was longing for a premium almond milk without oils and added sugars: a clean, simple, long life almond milk. That’s how the idea was born.
ISB: How did you manage to get the capital required to set up Almo Milk?
LM: I borrowed from family friends and juggled a full-time contracting role in the first year of launch. It was challenging and daunting at the time having to write cheques for $50,000 manufacturing runs when we hadn’t even sold one bottle of product.
ISB: What makes Almo Milk different from other almond-based milks in the market?
LM: Almo is the only Australian owned, made and grown, long life almond milk on the market without any added oils, maltodextrins or sugars. It’s clean, it’s simple and it’s delicious. It’s fortified with calcium and perfect for both café and retail use.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced getting the business off the ground and how did you overcome it?
LM: The first three years of Almo was spent manufacturing overseas. It was a real shame that Australia didn’t have many options for contract manufacturers. It means a lot of other incredible start-ups have failed to launch. I kept persevering and soon found that New Zealand was the only other country I would consider manufacturing the product. It required a lot of patience and hard work.
ISB: What has been the highlight for your business thus far?
LM: Seeing Almo being exported to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Dubai was a real milestone for Almo. I also had the privilege of being named the 2017 Telstra Victoria Young Business Woman of the Year, an opportunity that has provided nationwide recognition for the business and myself.
ISB: And finally, what is the #1 lesson you’ve learned on your journey you’d pass on to others with an idea they’d like to turn into a business?
LM: It is so important to define what your company values are and what your product stands for. It’s a critical aspect of succeeding and selling the vision of what you do with stakeholders and customers.