Parsley, chives, basil, mint, coriander… The startup Prêt à Pousser was born from the idea of developing indoor vegetable gardens. Non-existent in 2016 in France, when Young Shoot started this market with the support of its reseller partners, including the Boulanger brand. “Growing your food is part of tomorrow’s kitchen concept” says Romain Behaghel, co-founder. Three years of growth, raising more than eight million euros, namely from venture capital funds such as Capagro or Inventures, and Prêt à Pousseur commercializes its first product incorporating plants to install on benches. Very quickly, a second will follow, a plant wall made of classic herbs and salads. In addition to a high-performance e-commerce site, the company also has renowned distributors: Boulanger, Nature et Découvertes or Fnac/Darty. “Despite the health crisis and retail store closures, 2020 was a great year, driven by our website making up for losses in the retail business. »
The beginning of the end ?
The first quarter of 2021 is part of the same dynamic, but things deteriorate in the summer of 2021. “We find that when lockdown ended, people reallocated their spending away from household amenities and indoor activities. » Unfortunately, the startup scaled its purchases based on its 2020 growth numbers, putting its cash flow in the red. ” A new round of funding was unrealistic and we were too heavily in debt to put ourselves in “slow mode” and maintain our cash position until the situation improved.” complete Romain Behaghel.
The company, which then had 15 employees, then traded with its shareholders. They jointly decide to accelerate the sale project to support Prêt à Pousser with an industrial company. “We sent an investment bank and had good contacts, but the context deteriorated, confronting potential buyers with their own problems. » War in Ukraine, supply problems, inflation… As of summer 2022, Ready to Grow still has no buyers.
make the right choice
“We had anticipated the cessation of payment and liquidation to do them in good conditions, with cash that would allow us to maintain a minimum of activity. » Lucid, founders and associates know that “capital success is impossible, that a restart plan seems unrealistic in relation to a B to B clientele.” Maintaining the objective of supporting an industrial company, they are studying, however, the sale of assets. Romain Behaghel recalls this complex period. “Each investment decision, product development, the very idea of moving forward must not compromise the company. We were on a ridge line. » The relationship with the teams also brought some difficulties. The leader chose to transparently inform them of the various options. “We had to accompany them in the reality of life at the company while we developed projects for the future to maintain motivation. » Looking back, the leader advises: “Before going into debt or having sales at half mast, if the manager is uncertain about his sales, he must be able to rely only on himself and manage his cash flow for 18 months without needing to raise funds. »
the end of the tunnel
The company Vif Systems, based in Lyon, finally acquired the assets in November 2022 with the ambition to become the reference equipment supplier in urban agriculture. The team of seven people, the technology, the customer base change hands. “I am relieved that this period is over and the Ready to grow adventure continues. A recovery phase is a form of failure for investors and shareholders, but it is not project failure. » A new product should also be launched in the summer of 2023 to encourage individuals to become independent of leafy vegetables such as aromatic plants, salads or even kale, so that everyone becomes an actor in their diet.