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Entrepreneur Lessons: Ulu Hye

Experiences and learnings from successful founders

In our Entrepreneur Lessons series, we chat to fantastic founders and entrepreneurs, asking them what they've learned and picking up the best tips & advice to share with you along the way.

This week? Heidi Peuten from nut mylk base small business Ulu Hye! They create a waste-free and healthier solution to plant-based milks, and we interviewed them to find out all about the challenges and wins they've been faced with over time.

Food Futures HQ: Hey Heidi, how did you make a start in entrepreneurship and creating Ulu Hye?

Ulu Hye: Vasia and I grew up together and have been best friends for almost 20 years now! Our story started in 2017 when we were on our way to living a waste-free lifestyle but struggled with how many milk cartons we were using each week. Shocked at the amount of rubbish we were disposing of, we dug deeper into the recycling process around UHT cartons and what we found was very disappointing – only a very small amount of these cartons were able to be recycled, with the majority ending up in landfill. We also had a closer look at the ingredients list of our plant-based milk cartons and we had so many questions – Why are we paying mostly for water? Why isn’t there a concentrated version? Why are there so many additives and oils in these “healthy” milks? With backgrounds in sustainability and naturopathy, this was the catalyst for us to find a waste-free and healthier solution plant-based milks. Inspired to create a positive change and provide a better alternative in the market, we connected with a food scientist to help us on our journey to create the world’s first Mylk Bases.

Food Futures HQ: Can you tell us a bit about the times you've 'failed' in entrepreneurship and on the path to success with Ulu Hye?

Ulu Hye: I wouldn’t call it a failure, rather, the biggest challenge we ever faced as a company. For almost 2 years, from 2017-2019, we were banned from advertising on Facebook and Instagram for simply offering a Hemp Mylk Base. Facebook had wrongly flagged it as an illicit substance and for us as a brand new small business trying to create brand awareness on the world’s biggest social media platform, this was stressful to say the least. Fortunately, for us, we had a contact who helped us resolve this issue and eventually lift the ban. During this time, we were forced to pivot and used this opportunity to educate our consumers and incorporate this as a content pillar, meet and greet customers in real life at various markets and also kickstart the wholesale side of the business which currently stands at 350+ stockists Australia-wide.

Food Futures HQ: What have you learned from the challenges you've encountered and the concept of learning along the way?

Ulu Hye: As a small business, my biggest challenge would be finding a team that I trust, know and enjoy working with. Having a team working with you and for you, that understands your vision and are driven to help achieve it is everything. The exciting thing about being an entrepreneur is that you’re always learning something new, sometimes, every day! My top 3 tips would be to triple check everything, trust your gut and don’t be too proud to outsource talent to fill in the holes that aren’t your expertise.

Food Futures HQ: What has been your biggest lesson/takeaway in the process of starting and growing your business?

Ulu Hye: I tell this to everyone but don’t forget your why. It's so easy to get caught up with other things when running your own biz but whenever you're feeling lost, just remind yourself WHY you're doing what you're doing. I do believe that you need to truly love what you do, as there's not a huge amount of time for anything else. If you're not loving your work then you're going to feel pretty drained. Your business needs to lift you and inspire you, it must bring you joy.

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