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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Michael Brinkley


South Australian entrepreneur Michael Brinkley co-founded a beverage company after being inspired to get a healthier body and mind.

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After completing a Bachelor in Wine Marketing at the University of Adelaide, Brinkley began his mixology career while working in the wine industry.

He then moved into jewellery, as a diamond buyer and designer, while completing a Master in Commerce, also at Adelaide.

In 2016, Brinkley combined his educational experience to co-found Utonic Beverages with Tyson Goldsack, Leigh Morgan and Toby Yap.

Utonic Beverages provides a range of 100 per cent natural and sugar-free “functional beverages”.

A “functional” Utonic drink is designed to produce sustained results – ranging from improvement to increased performance – in an individual.

The brand has 15 beverages on offer and the products are split between “natural tonics” and “Kombucha Zero”.

The startup is now into its third year of operation with a national distribution network and Brinkley said he aspired to make Utonic the leading functional beverage company in Australia.

Utonic Beverages won Beverage of the Year at the 2018 Food and Beverage Awards, and was recently nominated as one of the top 20 South Australian favourite food and beverage businesses in the 2019 Consumer Award.

In June, Brinkley was also named one of InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest young business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

Don’t be impulsive – plan and think about your next move. It’s very hard to not be reactive in the start-up environment, as survival is always on your doorstep, but you need to take a step back every now and then and have a think about the future.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

The strengths are the great support from so many different entities such as TradeStart, AusTrade, I Choose SA and Food SA. I have also found a very strong business community with many experienced entrepreneurs. For my area of trade, the independent supermarkets are also very supportive of local brands.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

Adelaide is a hard market to crack due to our low population. Also, when looking for investment, people are dealing with a much more conservative investor and the pool of funds isn’t as deep.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

Yes, 100 per cent. I love the lifestyle here and can easily run my business from here. I have no plans to ever leave.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

We just need to continue to secure large companies to set up operations here, then the opportunities will come.

To see the full list of 40 winners go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

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