However there are bigger question marks over the product and whether it will ever get where they told Crowdcube investors it was going.
Cauli have raised 4 times on Crowdcube and there other company, Righteous, has completed another 2 campaigns. Righteous SHs have been offered and have in large part taken up, the offer from the founders to swap their Righteous shares for shares in Cauli. At a substantial discount, but better than most failed CC businesses. However its only worth something if Cauli go on to do the business.
For those who dont know, Cauli have taken the simple process of turning fresh cauliflower into rice step further and created a long live easy cook packet convenience food. So with my business hat on, what are the keys to making this a global success?
First, create an unstoppable brand. This will depend on the product and production being tight and consistent. Word of mouth is key. Target the market sector, in this case young, busy, health conscious 20-40 yo.
Second, trial and obtain long term listings with the major supermarkets and markets overseas.
Third, sustain a level of sales increases over several years which will cost in promotional spend so raise plenty of cash.
Fourth, new product development based on the original.
Finally a consistent and attainable plan of action, driven by a great team.
Cauli are someway to creating number 1. But they do seem to have a fundamental problem.
If you scan the reviews of their products from the listings at Morrisons, Ocado and the other large retailers, they are not good, especially the recent ones. The first point is that there are not many reviews and the average is between 2.5 and 3.5 out of 5. Comments on most 1 star reviews, of which there are a high percentage, are extremely off putting and consistent on the bad smell and flavour. For the good reviews, Cauli have a slight problem with a certain Dr, who is to be found on most of these sites. The said doctor is a large shareholder, via CC, in the company. It makes you wonder if all of the good reviews are fixed?
A company trying to sell the volumes that their own projections submit, needs products that deliver.
Supermarkets will not look kindly on a product review on their site which only rates a 2.5/5. They may have had a bad batch or the world maybe just agin em but both seem unlikely.
Number 2 they have started but with these reviews, will the listings last? The product has many, more healthy, substitutes.
Number 3 - they have consistently disappointed with their sales figures. Over the 4 raises, every time the previous projections have been missed and the new forward figures, slashed. They are yet to begin to see the BE line. Cash has been relatively easy to raise so far but investors might want to query some of the maths. For the January 2017 raise they used an independent company to verify their valuation and projections. This company, Blue Box, was then listed in the same document as their (paid) outsourced accounts and FP department.
Number 4 - there has been some new development but if the base product isnt actually that great, then developments are pointless. Maybe they have some in the pipeline.
Number 5 - The plans have been changeable. The plans for Righteous were the same - at the time they were promoting Righteous as the next big thing they were also pre planning Cauli. Flexibility is important but firefighting isnt the way to build a successful business - you have to get ahead of the curve. The team are very enthusiastic, loved by their backers and work their socks off. But if my customers are writing -
Horrible artificial taste, nothing like rice texture, went on the lawn. Magpies ate it.(Morrisons May 2017)
Smells and tastes really strongly of plastic. Just thoroughly horrible. Wish I'd read the reviews before buying. Will go back to making my own. (Ocado June 2017)
On opening I expected the typical cauliflower smell but instead I got a very chemical smell I guess this is from the plastic packaging. It translates the the flavour and spoiled our meal. The texture is great compared to others but would never buy again as feel the product is probably contaminated. (Ocado June 2017)
This smelt and tasted like burning rubber. Even covered in a tomato based sauce I couldn't eat it. Had 2 mouthfulls and couldn't get rid of the taste for the rest of the evening. (Sainsburys Jan 2017)
Id be worried. They are not.
Now there are clearly a number of good reviews but to get so many really atrocious ones makes you wonder if this will ever be a popular purchase. I find that you learn far more from the atrocious reviews than any of the others.
For the record the projected (from raise 3 in late 2015) accounts for YE 2016 showed a £96k profit whereas the real accounts showed losses of over £900k. Projected revenues were £3m and real revenues were £1.5m. It's far worse if you compare the first CC raise projection for YE 16 - revenues over £5m and net profits over £1m. One consistent feature is they have never undersold themselves.
People are heavily influenced by what they hear about a product. It's a very mixed message at the moment. But maybe its like Marmite? That did ok.