When Terry the cook from Fawlty Towers said “what the eye don’t see the chef gets away with”, he was oblivious to the enormous business risks posed by food contamination.
For any catering establishment other than Torquay’s finest, regulating and monitoring fridge and freezer temperatures should be taken very seriously indeed.
Enter CCP Technologies, as in “critical control points”, which has launched an online monitoring system for the food industry. Subscribers are alerted via their phones about temperature variances – hopefully in time to avoid a mass outbreak of giardia.
CCP’s IP was devised by Anthony Rowley, the company’s COO who was also involved in the creation of early Telstra internet activities; Michael White, CEO and a cold-chain expert; and Kartheek Munigoti, CCP’s chief technology officer.
As Rowley explains it, a fridge might record three degrees at closing time and three degrees in the morning. “But if the fridge goes off overnight they will never know and it is in breach of safety rules.”
During our interview, Rowley’s phone showed several venues with dodgy readings. We won’t name them, but we certainly won’t be eating there in a hurry.
Food safety is one aspect and efficiency is another: Rowley says cafes average three to four fridges, with cooling accounting for 15 per cent of global electricity usage.
In effect, CCP is another player in the internet of things (IoT) sphere: the interconnectivity of devices with equipment for monitoring and business optimisation purposes.
There’s also a “big data” aspect: crunching the numbers to improve business efficiency and even predict the failure of key equipment.
In the case of Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels, this meant avoiding the breakdown of a compressor and several dozen queasy senior citizens.
The US beckons as an especially lucrative market, helped by Donald Trump’s “reverse tweet” on abolishing Barack Obama’s Food Safety Modernisation Act.
In campaign mode Trump pledged to axe the initiative, but as with Mexican fence pledges he didn’t quite have the stomach to block the reform.
Last month, CCP cracked it lucky in Las Vegas by winning a monitoring deal with the Stratosphere Casino, home of the Top of the World restaurant.
This establishment won the 2016 Best of Las Vegas Gold Award for fine dining – and one doesn’t get such a gong for serving dodgy prawns.
In all there are 2400 restaurants and one million potential monitoring points in the buffet-loving town, which has led CCP to create a permanent sales presence there.
In its biggest deal to date CCP snared a US$180,000 deal with a US food consulting firm. This involves CCP licensing (and receiving a fee for) its business analytics platform. “The licence fee doesn’t include additional revenue we expect from the sale of our monitoring devices,” Rowley says.
Also recently, CCP signed up the Arizona Cold Stone Creamery, which has 650 ice-cream outlets across the US.
CCP chalked up a mere $70,000 of revenue in the March quarter. Cash outflows were $500,000 and cash on hand stood at $1.1 million, with expected current-quarter burn of $620,000.
In the December half-year accounts, auditor BDO kindly notes a “material uncertainty” if the company is unable to raise more capital.
On this note, Rowley says the board is considering a number of options, including a share placement and/or a share purchase plan.
CCP doesn’t charge an upfront equipment fee, but levies clients $15 per per month per monitoring point, over a two-year contract.
On our back of the serviette sums, CCP needs about 20,000 monitoring points to break even it currently has only 800.
But as CCP did not start selling in earnest until January, the new customer run rate should improve dramatically given the signed deals not yet resulting in revenue.
CCP listed last September after raising $3million at 5 cents per share.
“In a short time we have achieved a lot with not much money,” Rowley says. “One of our challenges is to grow the company big enough to expand the market with marketing and advertising.”
While focussed on food, CCP’s other target sectors are agriculture and health.
It’s worth noting that alternative monitoring products exist, but Rowley says they come at a hefty price, are hard to install and complicated to implement.