What happens at 5am?

The founder of organic yoghurt company five:am makes an impressive case for waking up early.

For five:am yoghurt founder David Prior, the hours between 5am and starting his workday are a pretty special time. Discovering the benefits of rising early in his mid-twenties after taking up morning yoga to heal a martial arts injury, he has come to relish the slower pace it affords his mornings and the luxury of waking up with the day.

“The problem with sleeping in is that you’re always playing catch up. You just feel like you’re running all day. If you get up early, everything moves slower. I’ve got time to do a bit of meditation, practise some yoga, maybe go for a run. I sleep better and I wake up feeling more energetic.”

Channeling this concept of controlling time into his workday, David has a disciplined approach to managing his diary. Strategies like scheduling short breaks between meetings, blocking out occasional mornings for a surf and planning days off to spend with his wife and daughter are simple ways he maintains balance and focus.

“I plan my diary in quite an in-depth way. I don’t have a PA – I do it myself. I really put a lot of thought into it, otherwise I feel like the day overtakes me. Everything just runs into each other and you get to the end of the day and think, what was that all about? When that starts to happen, you don’t do anything well.”

David’s emphasis on lifestyle balance is a fundamental philosophy underlying five:am organic yoghurt, and how his business came about very much echoes this considered approach.

“When I sold my last business, which was in packaging, I did okay out of it and I had a chance to reassess and really think about what I wanted to do next. I wanted to combine something entrepreneurial with something that was good for the environment and centred around healthy products. I started looking for a business to buy, I probably looked at about 50, but just found nothing I could get excited about. ”

With an Anglo-Indian background, yoghurt has always been a big part of David’s diet and he saw an opportunity to develop his own product via a method of production and distribution that he strongly associated with.

“Yoghurt’s a really healthy product, it’s full of probiotics for gut health. The organic element is niche, it supports the environment as you’re not pumping out chemicals and pesticides. I also wanted to make it available through the big guys, Coles and Woolworths, for everyone. I felt this fit all of my philosophical beliefs and it all came together.”

Bringing out of retirement five:am’s ‘chief yoghurteer’ Martin, the two worked side-by-side for two years while Martin designed the recipes and David got the business up and running for its 2011 launch.

Looking back on the evolution of five:am, it’s been a bigger, tougher and riskier undertaking than David had planned for, but he gets a real kick out of what he has created.

“It’s been incredibly challenging but more rewarding than I ever would have thought. I really, really love seeing people pick up our product, eat our product, talk about our brand. I love the fact that more people are eating organic food. It’s just a real feel-good thing for me and my team.”

While big dreams to build a plant in Asia and start manufacturing five:am over there are on the horizon, David has no intention of sacrificing his morning routine. Even if he has had a really late night, he still chooses to start his day early with some exercise. His advice for how others can do the same? Make it a habit.

“Just do a little something everyday,” he says. “Whether it’s walking to the bus stop, a little run or a little stretch. You can fall in and out of the habit very easily, and if you’re out of the routine of moving, you can get to the point where you’ve forgotten to do anything for a year. Just make it a habit.”

For more information visit fiveam.com.au

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