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Interview with First Press co-founder Hamish Walmsley

  • 4 min read
It’s time for First Press’ second co-founder to take the mic, Hamish Walmsley. With a background in one of the world’s largest tech companies and a huge passion for environmental sustainability, Hamish's leap into entrepreneurship wasn’t a straightforward one — in fact, he was initially reluctant to start a cold brew business. Here he shares what it took for him to finally take the leap into co-founding First Press, how reluctance turned into a love of startups and cold drip, and his major aha-moments along the way.

Hey Hamish! Tell us how your journey with First Press started?

I was working in sales at a tech giant when Jimmy first came to me with the idea for First Press. I was very much a high achiever constantly working towards the next goal and managing a lot of people, but I’d had doubts for a while about whether I was in the right kind of role and if I should make a career change, and I felt quite lost about what to do next. Then Jimmy came back from overseas raving about cold brew and how massive it was in the US, and that’s where it all started, toying with the idea of starting our own coffee business instead of working for someone else.

Did you dive right in from there on?

No not right away. We both fell in love with the idea of starting a business, but I still wasn’t sure if cold brew was the right thing. I hadn’t experienced cold brew or seen what Jimmy had, but over time as the business vision took shape and I started looking into the numbers, I began to really see the potential. I’m very numbers driven and the numbers were what got me across the line at first.

Once we’d jumped in and the business started gaining momentum, my excitement switched into being almost an obsession. I loved the creative process and how I was constantly learning new things, so I ended up taking time off work to focus full-time on growing First Press. I just wanted to keep creating, growing and learning and since I was doing it all for the business, I felt like I was creating something of my own instead of for someone else, which was an amazing feeling and a huge motivator.

We hear you’re a bit of an inventor too?

Haha yes you’ll often see me with a tool in hand or going around our warehouse building or tweaking things. I am a self taught engineer in the sense that I built our production facility and I’m always looking to improve efficiencies in the business, how we can save on finances, improve logistics or make our coffee taste even better.. a lot of my time and energy goes into that. 

I have a tendency to dive into a project and usually struggle to hand it over, but I’m getting better at delegating as we grow. The journey of building and managing our own production has almost inspired a new identity in me, and that’s another thing I love about running your own business - you’re constantly evolving as a person, with the business.

First Press is 5 years in now and has become Australia’s leading cold drip company. Where do you see the business heading in the future?

We’re fortunate to have experienced such fast growth in the last years, and while we might not become the biggest coffee company in the world our hope is that we will have the biggest voice on the environmental impact of coffee production. We really care about First Press’ ecological footprint and constantly audit the business to see where we’re at to try and make sure we’re doing everything we can to be carbon neutral, that we’re using ethically sourced beans and that our materials are recyclable.

We’re launching a workshop series soon to help educate our community on sustainable coffee practices and share ideas for how we can collectively create a more sustainable industry. Friends often see me go on passionate rants about the environment, but the workshops will be somewhat more organised haha.

What are some key learnings you’ve had on your First Press journey, that you want to share with your community?

A huge aha-moment for me came in the early stages of First Press, when I learnt what purpose truly meant and how important it is to lead your life with a clear purpose that you are passionate about. It makes a massive difference not only for your personal wellbeing, mental state and motivation but also for the results you create in the business. 

Another thing is to make time for yourself to rest and recharge, no matter how hard or tempting it is not to. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what you’ve achieved when you’re in the business, so it’s good to have downtime and take time to reflect. To understand when you’re too stressed and really aim to look after yourself. 

Running a startup can be really intense and is not for everyone, but the incredible joy and fulfillment you feel when you see a project come to fruition and your customers love your product, it far outweighs any challenges you face.

Thanks Hamish!