Changing the way we drink

11 June 2020

The landscape is changing so rapidly, we need to be able to keep up without going too far from our core business. Our agility and swiftness is also evolving.

When Christina DeLay PhD '16 worked as a technology consultant, drinking became a regular part of her life. Whether socialising after work, attending a networking event or just needing to relax after a stressful day, she was caught up in the drinking culture prevalent in the industry.

"All of this affected my health, and I was forced to take a look at my drinking habits," said Christina. "I changed my relationship with alcohol, but found no healthy, sophisticated alternatives to drink when socialising."

With her background in chemical biotechnology and plant biology, Christina and her business partner Alan Tse, went about reimagining drinking for themselves and many like them. They co-founded Altina Drinks, a Canberra-based business which crafts zero-proof cocktails (alcohol-free beverages) to help people change the way they drink.

"We've built Altina around the principles of inclusivity and choice. We firmly believe people should have delicious, flavour-driven and healthy alternatives to alcohol and still feel like they're part of the occasion."

Altina's innovative production methods ensure their beverages are unique.

"We focus on flavour by sourcing native and unusual ingredients in our cocktails. People can enjoy our drinks without worrying about excessive sugar, sweet fruit juices or artificial nasties. We also provide extra special little touches, like beautiful dehydrated garnishes to make any occasion an unforgettable experience."

The current health crisis due to COVID-19 has made it very difficult for small businesses and social enterprises like Altina.

"We lost our major revenues from bars, restaurants and events, and are now focussing on two things - our online store and collaborating with other local businesses to create extra value for customers. We are also engaging with our customers on social media a lot more."

Christina feels that though this is a challenging time, it is also the right time to shift focus.

"If you're shut, it's a great time to work on the business rather than in the business -- like streamlining your backend processes, thinking about your customer journey or developing new products and services. If you're not shut, think about new and creative ways to engage with your potential customers."

"The landscape is changing so rapidly, we need to be able to keep up without going too far from our core business. Our agility and swiftness is also evolving."

She feels people are really keen to support small business right now.

"Supporting small business can be as easy as choosing to eat, drink and shop from local producers. There's a huge part people play in recommending small business - if you have a great experience, share it!"

Hashtags like #shopANUalumni allow our community to discover and support ANU alumni-led businesses.

"ANU plays such a big role in the Canberra community - from its footprint in the city to the links with innovation and local businesses."

Having moved to Canberra for her PhD at ANU, Christina describes the three and a half years she spent at the Research School of Biology as wonderful, but challenging.

"I loved everything there, from the people I worked with to the extracurricular activities and the teaching I did. My time at ANU really set up the way I approach challenges and gave me skills I'm still discovering now on my journey as a social entrepreneur."

Christina DeLay

Ph.D., B.Biotech. (Hons)
Co-Founder and CEO, Product Development, Business Strategy and Technical Operations

Christina started Altina Drinks because of her own experience with the Aussie drinking culture. She is an award winning innovator and is the scientist behind Altina Drinks' cocktail development, bringing a Bachelor of Chemical Biotechnology and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology to the table. She previously worked as a technology consultant and strategic advisor, where she coordinated multi-million dollar government projects and delivered strategic advice to senior government executives. She is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a keynote speaker and sits on several advisory boards/committees.

Alan Tse

B.Econ. (Hons), AAICD, CA
Co-Founder and CFO, Business Development, Sales and Business Operations

Alan is passionate about reducing the stigma that alcoholic drinks are the only choice when socialising. He has over 10 years of experience in financial modelling, economics, business consulting and management. He has previously worked at the Commonwealth Treasury, where he provided policy advice to government and Synergy Group, where he provided advisory services to CFOs. He has built extensive networks and connections across the business and innovation space in Canberra. Alan is the Canberra Business Chamber Future Leader for 2019 and sits on the board of Pedal Power.

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