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Recently, we chatted with Elaine Teo of Oatbedient to learn more about the homegrown oat milk brand. You can read more about the business, which was founded by the family behind coffee empire SUPER Group, here.

“Frankly, we come from a background where we do all these instant format beverages, so we’re very familiar when it comes to the creating of product formulations,” Elaine had shared during our interview.

Of course, technical expertise isn’t something that’s easily replicable, unless you’re willing to invest a lot of time, money, and effort. What might be more replicable, though, is good business practices.

Here were some pearls of business wisdom that we picked up from the scion during our conversation.

Study your consumers and the market well

Coming from a CPG (consumer packaged goods) background, the Oatbedient team knows about the challenges of their previous portfolio of brands.

Image Credit: Oatbedient

“In order to launch a product well, understanding your consumer is extremely crucial, you need to understand their mindset to know what they’re thinking and to fill in the gap that’s missing,” Elaine said.

She elaborated, “You identify an opportunity, no one is in that market trying to fit that opportunity, and you jump into it.”

Keep a broad lens when developing a brand

While creating the branding for Oatbedient, Elaine was very cognisant of having a global appeal from the get-go.

Image Credit: Oatbedient

To future-proof the brand and the scalability of the product, she made sure that there were no human elements in the branding itself, as this can be tricky when it comes time to enter new markets where relatability will be affected.

As such, they decided to create an oat-inspired mascot (that many think is a rabbit) named Oatdit.

Because of this mindset, it has been quite straightforward for the brand to promote their products across various countries and regions. The brand has even received positive feedback in the United States.

All hands should be on deck

During our conversation, Elaine expressed how proud she is that everyone in the team has a sense of ownership and integrity. Team members have proven that they will not take shortcuts and compromise the quality and ethos of the brand.

Image Credit: Oatbedient

The co-founder also shared that the team and the family all came together collectively to “pull their weight” and play a part in the formation of the brand.

For one, the name “Oatbedient” is a reflection of that culture.

Elaine shared that it was her brother, who had been CCed in an email thread that saw the idea of “Obedient Oats”, and suggested combining the two to create the punny portmanteau of Oatbedient.

It seems like there’s a sense of “no task is beneath you” and a hands-on approach when it comes to the Teo family.

Start conservatively

Just because there’s a big name like SUPER Group preceding Oatbedient doesn’t mean that the new brand gets to forgo basic business practices and just splurge when starting up the business.

Recognising that starting in supermarkets would incur a high cost, they had actually started small by focusing on ecommerce. Oatbedient was launched on Shopee, Lazada, as well as their own website, which helped them break into the market more easily.

Doing things for the community

“For us, apart from being just a product, an oat milk brand, we want to uplift more people in terms of aspirations,” Elaine had shared.

Image Credit: Oatbedient

As such, Oatbedient has a programme called the Community Code to celebrate artistry and local craftsmen.

There are three instalments in Singapore thus far, involving batik painting, marquage painting (hand-painting leather goods), and pottery. Not only do these activities engage the community, but they also give back to society.

Leverage experience, but don’t overlook trends

Elaine said that if Oatbedient were to start completely fresh, without the expertise of their past lives, the startup wouldn’t be able to achieve what they’ve achieved today.

Image Credit: Oatbedient

“Importantly, we start off with people who have got decades of experience in the CPG business, be it on channel distribution, marketing, or manufacturing,” she said.

But having that expertise and know-how may also do a disservice in terms of keeping things relevant and fresh. 

“I must say that we’re very lucky,” Elaine added. “The thing is, our chairman is actually quite progressive. He’s 73 years old but he’s so into trends.”

You’re never too big to fail

Being in the instant mixed drinks space, Oatbedient is up against some serious competition.

“For the entire team, we’re very used to competition, given that SUPER Group back then had so much competition, right?” Elaine said.

Image Credit: Oatbedient

Even for a name as big as SUPER Group, the team hadn’t been content with just staying still. Rather, Elaine believes in always striving to be the better version of yourself.

“You need to come up with new product innovation, you need to come up with new promotion, you need to be able to come up with new engagement and activities so that your brand remains relevant,” she said.

“It’s almost a continuous quest to get better and better each time. You do not rest on what you have achieved, but moving forward with new concepts, ideas, and creative things.”

  • Learn more about Oatbedient here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Apricot Capital

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