Interviews

Cauli Rice: A Big Bet On The Humble Cauliflower

Sometimes for entrepreneurs, a bolt of inspiration comes from an unexpected source. That's what happened to Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice.

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Sometimes for entrepreneurs, a bolt of inspiration comes from an unexpected source. That's what happened to Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice.

Interviews

Cauli Rice: A Big Bet On The Humble Cauliflower

Sometimes for entrepreneurs, a bolt of inspiration comes from an unexpected source. That's what happened to Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice.

Share this article

Cauli Rice: A Big Bet On The Humble Cauliflower

Pursuing her love of healthy eating, Gem initially established speciality salad dressing company, Righteous Ltd. Although it became the biggest selling sauce brand in Whole Foods Market, she found she was losing out to bigger players in the industry, which made similar products, when it came to distribution in the major supermarkets.

“If you’re an entrepreneur you don’t have the support and the infrastructure that the big companies have," she says. "The way to get around that is to get together with other entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of support you can get by pooling together and learning from each other.”

And that’s what she did. Following a conversation with the team behind organic baby food website, Ella’s Kitchen, about what made their products popular, she realised she should try a different tactic.

It planted the seed in her mind that what she really needed was a product that was first to market. A year later, she came across the concept of cauliflower rice and immediately set about pioneering a long-life, ready-to-heat version.

Pitch to Rich winners with Richard Branson

Gem was a 'Pitch To Rich' winner in 2015: Here she pitches to Sir Rich himself

What inspired you to leave corporate life and start Cauli-Rice?

I was in the corporate world for more than eight years and slowly realised that this wasn’t where my heart was. I knew I wanted to start my own business but I was very apprehensive. I had a comfortable job with a good company and I remember at that time that the recession had just started. I tried sticking it out but I became increasingly unhappy.

Sensing my frustration, my manager said ‘Maybe you should stop swimming against the tide and see where it takes you’.  I took this as a sign to finally take that leap and become an entrepreneur. I have not looked back since.

What challenge Cauli-Rice trying to meet?

Over 60% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, and diabetes levels are soaring. Health concerns such as these are causing more people to watch what they eat.

Cauli Rice is a great way to reduce high-calorie carbohydrates like rice bread and pasta (which, if your body doesn’t burn, gets turned into fat and also causes blood sugar spikes) but still gives you the same full meal satisfaction and doesn’t leave you hungry like a lot of low calorie or low carb products in the market.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?

Cauli Rice was an idea that my partner and I came up with after years of making it in our own kitchen. It was a great idea but we had no way of financing it ourselves. Thankfully, we managed to get through three successful rounds of crowdfunding on Crowdcube.com that have helped us to perfect the product, build a factory, and get Cauli Rice into supermarkets in the UK and soon in America.

Pitch to Rich winners with Richard Branson

With funding and competition wins in the bag, Cauli Rice is branching out

Cauli-rice reminds us of the 1970s but it has since fallen out of fashion. Tell us why you’re bringing it back.

Cauliflower has definitely gone out of fashion over the years, and because of this cauliflower sales have declined by 70% since the 80’s. Thankfully, we’ve found another reason for people to start loving cauliflower again as a rice replacement that can give you the same full meal satisfaction but without the calories.

From Kale to Acai, we jump from food fad to fad. What do you think is coming next and how will you ensure Cauli Rice is here to stay?

We’re hoping that Cauliflower rice is more than a trend because of its strong functional benefits – its got 75% fewer calories than rice, pasta or potatoes; it’s got a low glycemic index which makes it ideal for diabetics (who are meant to avoid eating too much carbs); and it even counts towards one of your 5 a day.

What has the rest of 2016 got in stall for you?

We’re crossing our fingers that 2016 is going to be good to us! We’re expanding beyond the UK to major supermarkets in the US; and we’ve got some new product innovations in the pipeline!

What would you say to your 16 year-old self?

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – it’ll help you find out what you truly love doing. It won’t be easy but it’s worth the struggle.

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Cauli Rice: A Big Bet On The Humble Cauliflower

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