Anthony Tuong

Co-Founder of Inside Out

Anthony Tuong started out by selling smoothies at the Bondi and Northern Beaches’ Farmers’ Markets in the summer. He soon tried his hand at producing almond milk, taking over his kitchen, and bottling 17 bottles in four hours. After huge success at the markets, Anthony used his degree in commerce law to crunch some numbers to make an escalation of the business possible.

In a short time, Anthony and the team have expanded beyond almond milk to offer a range of non-dairy milks, in the fresh and flavoured ranges as well as cold brew coffees. Initially focusing on fresh almond and oat milks, Inside Out recently launched into the long-life category, allowing them to be much more accessible and relatable to consumers than ever before. In the process they have remained committed to producing only high-quality and 100% natural products to create the most delicious almond and oat milk around. Inside Out products are now available in thousands of supermarkets across the country.

Where did the idea for Inside Out come from?

Inside Out was never really supposed to become a business! While I was at university, a friend and I were selling juices and smoothies at the Bondi Farmers’ Markets. We didn’t want to use soy or dairy as a base for our smoothies so we tried almond milk, however, all the almond milks on the market came from overseas, and they were quite average, and laden with preservatives. Our farmers’ market consumers responded really well to our homemade, homegrown style of almond milk, and it really just took off from there!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Chaos!. My day doesn’t have a routine, really. Everyday is different and really depends on what the business is working on at that moment. At any given time we have 5-10 projects running at the same time We have about 13 in non-production related roles and they are the most engaged, motivated, and loyal team.

I wear a lot of hats; I manage our management staff, control our finances and manage all our shareholder and board-level relations, develop our strategy and actually go out and find out a way to implement and execute it. The list goes on.

I find the best way to be productive is to be disciplined. You need to maintain the thing that drives and motivates you and use that to complete one sub-task at a time. I’m quite calculated and methodical in how I go about my work and will complete immediate tasks with discipline and still understand the bigger picture/vision. But I think the key is also being responsive rather than just being reactive , as things will often go wrong before they go right.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Everything comes from the consumer and doing your best to understand what they want and why they want it. The plant-based space is so new and there is so much more room for growth that new product development opportunities are out there in abundance. Once you have an idea of what you think consumers will enjoy, you have to see whether it’ll fit within the market parameters. The way Woolworths and all the major channels like foodservice operate is fairly consistent and basically a constant. Regardless of how good your idea may be, if it’s not going to fit and work for them, it’s not going to work for anyone.

What’s one trend that excites you?

This isn’t one that particularly excites me but I think it is something that is happening quickly before our eyes. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for our generation to purchase homes in the city they wish to live in, while maintaining course in their chosen profession/career. So a lot of people have kind of given up on owning a home and enjoying their youth for that little bit longer. So now the assortment of food and drinks, whether dining out or at the grocery store, is just getting better and better, as people are spending more money in this area.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

You just have to have a thirst or obsession to get the job done. You just need to keep going until it’s done.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I tried playing pro tennis when I was 16 and got into a motor scooter accident when I was 18. So maybe, don’t get on that scooter?
If it’s business-related advice you’re asking for. Start a business with more money and to make sure you have real support around you.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I have so many things to say that people wouldn’t think are true but I’ve experienced first hand! But the main one is: working with the major retailers is not as bad as it’s made out to be.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Do the hard things first.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I think I’ve made more bad decisions than good ones! But in all honesty, I think really working on our brand positioning and entry into long-life has made all the difference. My team and I were working on and delivered both fresh and long-life initiatives at the same time. It has just opened us up to a whole new space, we are much more accessible and relatable than ever before.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There are many failures you experience on this journey. I started this business with less than $1000, in my mum and dad’s kitchen. No money, no experience and it’s not like we invented anything and had patent protection. Almond milk was emerging but it wasn’t novel!

I’ve had strategic failures, funding failures, partnership failures, product failures, the thing that keeps me going is having perspective, specifically knowing what’s important and working your tail off to achieve it. But not at the risk of the things that really matter in life.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

This is probably not going to make anybody any money but here goes:I think if you could build a labour-intensive business and use your labour force and business to provide jobs to the homeless and less fortunate. Why not build/sell/service something cool while providing a public service?

I also think micro-loans also need to be something that is a big part of our future. Income and wealth distribution is a huge topical issue and I think our system of finance makes it far easier for the rich to get mega rich, than it is for those struggling to get by.. I think we need to seriously look at micro-loans to lower income earners.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Pokemon cards. Nostalgia is super powerful and just erases the adultness of my life!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m pretty old school and keep everything handwritten. The notes app on my phone and diary reminders

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I read all the entrepreneur and startup books you could possibly read when I started this business. It didn’t really prepare me for anything that came. Books aren’t going to sufficiently prepare you for start-up life. Read materials that help you get things done. Learn the craft, but hold onto your vision.

What is your favorite quote?

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. We must learn to hate and if we can learn to hate then we can be taught to love, because love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela. It’s my desktop background!

Key Learnings:

  • It was very reflective and that is quite difficult to do when you are immersed in your business.
  • Acknowledge failures out loud. You can’t win without losing a little bit!
  • Looking and thinking about what could be next! It’s important to make time for this.