Key Stats: Asarasi on Republic
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Asarasi has been selected as a “Deal to Watch” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10%-20% of our due diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology, please reach out to email@example.com.
The consumer water market may not seem like one where innovation can bring much in the way of change, but it is. While water technically is renewable, there is also a scarcity component to it when dealing with freshwater specifically. This scarcity creates opportunities for companies that can find new ways to extract and use water. One such firm looking to make a difference in this space is Asarasi. By sourcing from another market where significant amounts of freshwater happen to be a byproduct, Asarasi is able to benefit the consumer water industry while adding to the drinking options of society at large.
Water is plentiful. About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by it, but only about 3% of that is freshwater. Of that, five-sixths worth is currently caught up in the planet’s glaciers, leaving just 0.5% of the world’s water readily accessible for prospective consumption. While some parts of the world have more than enough to go around, other parts are struggling. Places like California and South Africa, for instance, have had to ration water consumption in recent years. There are solutions to this, like desalination, which turns saltwater into freshwater. However, that method can be costly and damaging for local ecosystems.
There is no one simple solution for the world’s water woes. There likely will be, though, many solutions that will combine to tackle the planet’s shortage. One solution appears to be what Asarasi is offering. According to management, Asarasi operates by taking an industry where water is a byproduct and then repurposing that water for commercial use. That initial industry happens to be based on maple syrup.
Every year, the average maple tree is responsible for producing around 10 to 20 gallons of sap per tap. The actual amount varies based on the weather as well as the size and health of the tree. The ideal environment to produce sap involves freezing temperatures at night followed by moderate temperatures of between 40- and 45-degrees Fahrenheit during the day. This change in temperature creates pressure within the tree that pushes the sap through the tap. What is produced, though, is not necessarily ready for end user consumption.
In a case where 50 gallons of sap are produced, the company extracting that amount will then send the sap through a reverse osmosis process, which allows the sugar to become concentrated. The end product is about 1 gallon of maple syrup and 49 gallons of “tree water.” As the image below illustrates, this tree water is actually safe to consume. However, in cases where the maple syrup producer cannot sell it, it goes on to become waste. Asarasi’s business model is simple: take the water that’s a byproduct of the maple syrup making process, bottle it, and sell it as sparkling water for consumers.
Since inception, the management team at Asarasi has been successful in building up a nice business for themselves. The company lists its individual bottles at $1.99 for their suggested retail price (SRP). For a 4-pack, the SRP is listed at $6.99. As of today, the company sells its water in several different forms. There is the original organic sparkling water, or there are flavored versions, including mango, cherry lime, lime, and lemon. It also has a tonic variant.
Today, the company sells its products through more than 1,100 retail stores throughout the US, Japan, and the UAE. It is also launching in Mexico City soon as well. Currently, 800 of its locations are throughout the US, while more than 330 are in Japan. Most of its sales are made through distributors. However, the company also sells directly to consumers, and it distributes its product directly to 80 different stores. Early this year, the firm hopes to more than double that number.
Also under its belt is a history of wins associated with investors and investment groups. To start, the company was the startup winner of Plug and Play’s Fall Summit 2018 under the competition’s Food & Beverage category. It will also receive $100,000 in funding this year from the 100+ Accelerator, courtesy of Anheuser-Busch. The company also claims to have long-term contracts with at least 110 maple producers for their water. Management estimates that this could amount to 100 million gallons worth of product over time. With an estimated 9,492 maple farms across North America, there’s plenty of room for growth as well.
During its lifetime, sales have been gradually improving. In 2018, revenue for the firm was $148,474, which then grew by 24.6% to $184,942 last year. Unfortunately, though, the company is still losing money. Net losses last year of $177,164 were only a little better than 2018’s net loss of $181,243. Operating cash flows were -$131,158 in 2019, but this was admittedly better than the $166,692 in cash outflows the company realized in 2018. To remain viable long-term, Asarasi must either increase sales a great deal, lower costs, or do both over the next few years.
An Interesting Market Opportunity
The market that Asarasi operates in is unique due to its dual nature. It’s also a challenge to figure out where the company belongs. Its existence is reliant on the maple syrup industry, but its actual product is water. Since the smaller of these markets is maple syrup, it makes sense to tackle that angle first.
Any discussion of the maple syrup industry must include a hearty mention of Canada. According to one source, our neighbor to the north accounted for about 71% of the world’s syrup production in 2017. In all, about 12.5 million gallons of the product were produced there. In 2018, due to a particularly harsh winter, production from Canada plummeted 22%, resulting in the nation’s output tumbling to just 9.8 million. This volatility does suggest a good degree of uncertainty in the space.
The largest source of maple syrup in Canada is Quebec. That province is responsible for around 90% of the country’s output, and the emphasis on that region should only intensify. According to one source, the province is working to expand the number of taps it has by about 5 million, which would roughly double Quebec’s maple syrup output. Ontario and New Brunswick, meanwhile, should see their production grow by between 5% and 7% per annum over the same period of time.
Just because Canada is the largest market doesn’t mean that it’s the only important one. The US produces a sizable amount of maple syrup as well, and its market share is only growing over time. In 2019, the US saw output of about 4.24 million gallons, up from the 1.30 million gallons in 2003. The total value of the US market over time has risen from $36.71 million to $141.86 million. The largest state by output is Vermont, and it alone is responsible for about 40% of the output of the US. The total global market, meanwhile, amounts to about 17.61 million gallons per year. These gallons are worth around $1.24 billion, but with a 7% annualized growth rate, the market is forecasted to expand to about $1.7 billion by 2023.
The consumer water market is far larger. In 2017, the global bottled water market was estimated to be worth around $150.36 billion. The annualized growth rate here moving forward should be about 7.1%, taking the industry up to a size of $242.35 billion by 2024. Total liters of bottled water sold were about 282.54 billion in 2018, and about $24.93 billion in value of this market was located in North America. Applying Asarasi’s estimates, there is a market opportunity for the company of around 880.5 million gallons, which works out to between $16.08 billion and $18.32 billion as measured by their SRP.
Terms of the Deal
To continue growing, management at Asarasi is trying to raise additional capital. This capital raise will be done by giving market participants a SAFE which will be convertible into shares of the company upon a triggering event (likely a subsequent raise). Its conversion will be subject to a $10 million valuation cap and a 10% discount to the value of the company at the time. In all, the firm is looking to raise between $25,000 and $1.07 million, but the amount pledged so far is only $4,300. The minimum investment per participant that’s required is $100.
An Eye On Management
The founder and CEO of Asarasi is a gentleman named Adam Lazar. Prior to setting up the company, he was a Category Business Manager at 5.11 Tactical. He has also served as a Product Development Manager of Hard Goods and as a Product Marketing Manager at Revision Eyewear.
The next major player at the firm appears to be Dennis Noone. He serves as Asarasi’s Head of Sales and as its CRO (Chief Revenue Officer). Before joining Asarasi, he was a Principal at 12PMER LLC, and prior to that he was a Corporate VP of Sales at Henkel Consumer Goods.
The Rating: Deal to Watch
After careful consideration, Asarasi has been rated a “Deal to Watch”. The company’s approach to alleviating the world’s water insecurity concerns is interesting and innovative. It also looks likely to create value for all parties involved. Management has done well to establish a sales channel and to grow revenue over time. It’s also likely that key strategic partnerships will help it to grow, and the company looks set to continue growing with or without funding. This is all good, but there are some negatives to keep in mind.
For starters, the large and continued net losses are not great to see. It’s also in a business that is difficult, competitive, and likely low-margin in nature. These aspects will impact its upside, especially if it cannot work with its partners to significantly ramp up output. The cap on its SAFE also appears really high and its discount unreasonably low, given where the firm is in its lifecycle.
Even with these issues, though, it could make for a reasonable prospect for market participants. Asarasi remains a unique opportunity for investors to consider.
About: Daniel jones
Daniel Jones is a graduate of Case Western University with a degree in Economics. He has spent several years as an equity analyst writer for The Motley Fool where he focuses primarily on the Consumer Goods sector but also likes to dive in on interesting topics involving energy, industrials, and macroeconomics, in addition to contributing equity research to publications such as Seeking Alpha.