A conversation with founder and CEO of OATSIDE, Benedict Lim: What to expect from Asia’s first (dangerously delicious) oat milk brand

Dangerously delicious oat milk for dairy lovers and Asia’s first oat milk brand? Yes, please. Image credit: OATSIDE

Quick Facts

Launched during the pandemic…August 2020 in Singapore 

Initial investment…Raised S$22M to date, closing its Pre-Series around in December 2020 led by Proterra Investment Partners Asia

Countries sold in…Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia

Stocked in… most markets, the numbers will keep evolving. OATSIDE aims to be available in major shops and grocers across Asia.

In Malaysia, OATSIDE is available in major grocers such as Jaya Grocers, Village Grocer and QRA. You may also find selected cafes using OATSIDE, such as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, PPP Coffee, Lucky Coffee Bar at KLoé Hotel. 

In Singapore, the selected cafes would Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Baker & Cook, PPP Coffee, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

What’s the big deal? 

OATSIDE prides itself on being one of Singapore’s first “full-stack” oat milk brands. This means that, in addition to using sustainably sourced ingredients, OATSIDE maintains complete control over the manufacturing process, including ingredient procurement, oat extraction, and packaging. Former Kraftz Heinz Indonesia CFO and Cambridge graduate Benedict Lim conceptualised the product during the pandemic and tested it for at least 50 rounds of R&D before perfecting the right formula with different ingredients and extraction processes to achieve the different flavour and texture combinations.

“We know that taste is often a barrier for more people adopting sustainable milks, so our goal was to develop an oat milk that could overcome these perceptions. It was a challenge developing the right product with existing setups at contract manufacturers in the early days, so we took the longer approach of building out our own production line that allowed us more customization and control over the oat extraction process,” said Benedict Lim, Founder and CEO of OATSIDE.

Table Talk with Benedict Lim, Founder and CEO of OATSIDE 


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What inspired you to start OATSIDE in the midst of the pandemic? 

I love coffee and drink more than 5 cups a day, so naturally, I discovered oat milk through coffee. Unlike other plant milks which tend to overpower with beany or cardboard notes, oat milk has a creamy texture and relatively neutral taste which lends itself well to coffee. 

What I found really intriguing was that, unlike soy or almond which tend to be more generic, there was a huge variance in taste and texture between the different oat milk brands owing to the complexity of the extraction process, which made me interested to experiment and understand more. We must have made more than 50 versions, all of which I subjected family, friends and baristas to – experimenting with different oat provenance, extraction and processing methods.

The silver lining of being cooped up at home during the pandemic was that I had plenty of time to be alone and to divert restless energy to creative thinking.

What was your biggest challenge in launching your own brand and how did you overcome it? 

It would have been much easier to launch an off-the-shelf oat milk product using contract manufacturers, but we wanted to create a product that is truly distinct and wins on taste, which meant we had to customize our oat extraction process and setup. The entire R&D and setup of the production facility took us 18 months but we’re glad we took the longer approach to get the product right! 

What are your two key learnings so far in launching your own start-up? How’s the journey been so far? 

Firstly, being product and consumer obsessed has been core to OATSIDE’s launch and traction and it is something we must keep as a core value. Secondly, being able to build a team of people who are not only solid at what they do but who also enjoy spending time with each other has been a blessing and has made this journey so much more enjoyable. 

From L-R: Benedict Lim, Founder of Oatside, Gabriel-Farnezi-Gabriel Farnezi, Commercial Director of Oatside, and Cindy Lin, Marketing Director of Oatside. Image credit: OATSIDE

What is OATSIDE made out of? 

None of the nasty, like artificial flavours, gums, emulsifiers, preservatives or colouring. 100% Australian oats, natural spring water and Halal-certified! 

But how does OATSIDE actually taste?

OATSIDE range of products: Chocolate, Barista Blend, Chocolate Hazelnut. Image credit: OATSIDE

With the guide of Master Sommelier Alison Christ, we were treated to a blind tasting of Barista Blend, OATSIDE’s flagship original oat milk, alongside competitor products (the packagings were covered). OATSIDE, without a doubt, has a creamier, richer, and maltier flavour than the others. When we were served lattes using OATSIDE oat milk, it was the taste of the usual creamy, foamy texture of a regular latte, which got us thinking, how is this not dairy? 

OATSIDE Chocolate is a dark, rich, and semi-sweet blend with 100 percent Rainforest Alliance certified blend of Indonesian-African cacao beans, and contains no-added-flavours and less sugar than most chocolate milks. A crowd favourite for adults and children alike.

OATSIDE Chocolate Hazelnut is unquestionably our favourite. A silky smooth liquid ‘gianduja’ with intense flavours of dark-roasted high-quality hazelnuts sourced from Turkey, this is an elixir of pure bliss. It was incredibly satisfying. We shamelessly asked for seconds. 

Do we really need another plant-based milk? 

It helps to know that oat milk production uses 90% less land and water and creates 70% fewer emissions than cow’s milk. In keeping with its mission to be sustainable without taste sustainable, OATSIDE also uses recycled paperboard packaging and sources Rainforest-Alliance certified ingredients

A win-win for all of us! 

Welcome to the OATSIDE. Image credit: OATSIDE
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