Meet the Innovator: Christina Delay’s mindful mixology

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Meet the Innovator: Christina Delay’s mindful mixology

By Anthony O’Brien

 

Most of us have been there. The dusty feeling that a couple of seemingly harmless alcoholic bevies can leave us with the morning after.

Dr Christina Delay MIML is no different. However, the innovative biotechnology whiz with a Bachelor of Biotechnology from the University of Queensland and a PhD in Plant Biology from the Australian National University decided to address the loathsome issue of hangovers. Along with business partner Alan Tse, Delay officially launched the already successful Altina Drinks on 1 December 2018.

Canberra-based Altina Drinks produces zero-alcohol cocktails that pack a punch. The now teetotal Delay, who joined IML ANZ as a member in January 2019, explains Altina sprouted from her experience of social drinking as a technology consultant. “I’d gone from academia to the consulting industry and soon found myself caught up in the socialising culture where drinking was prominent.”

While Delay enjoyed her new environment, the culture caught up with her health. The curious Delay started talking to her colleagues about their experiences. “I realised there is much pressure around drinking. If you don’t drink, it’s tough and not very inclusive, and it’s quite hard to feel like you’re part of a social occasion.” From this early market research, Delay hatched the idea for Altina, and the value of ‘mindful drinking’ in February 2018. Coincidentally, Altina cofounder and finance expert, Tse, was questioning his drinking habits and ditched the booze.

In May 2018, Delay and Tse sought help for Altina through a social enterprise accelerator program. “We wanted to build the business as a social enterprise. Our North Star, our guiding light, is that we want to have an impact on the Aussie drinking culture.” At the same time, Delay started with IML ANZ’s mentoring program and worked with mentor Amanda Knol MIML. “We had monthly breakfasts, and she was a great sounding board particularly in relation to honing my management style.”

Delay mixed her earliest concoctions in her kitchen using a very structured approach. The PhD reviewed different methods for distilling spirits, brewing beer and wine-making. “Then I tried to understand and tinker with similar methods without using or producing alcohol.” Delay used botanicals, herbs, and spices to replace alcohol. As a result, Altina’s cocktails don’t rely on sugar-heavy fruit juices to create heavy hitting flavours.

Once Delay and Tse settled on some cocktails, they took their ideas to the Canberra community and used a crowdfunding campaign to raise significant finance for the start-up and to get their brews into bottles.

For now, Altina is using several different channels to market its non-alcoholic beverages including workplace functions and online. Delay explains, “We’re passionate about the concept of mindful drinking and helping workplaces introduce healthier drinking cultures.

“We’ve purposely held off getting our product into retailers and venues right now until we can scale up production.”


This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of Leadership Matters, IML ANZ’s quarterly magazine. For editorial suggestions and enquiries, please contact karyl.estrella@managersandleaders.com.au.

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