Coconuts: Cape Town entrepreneurs feud on Facebook after ‘blatant’ foul play

cape town coconut connection business facebook chris isherwood flickr

We’ve been giving avocados stick this month on Memeburn, but today, we’re looking at two coconut-orientated Cape Town startups locked in a social and legal battle.

A piece published on blog Fury Marketing this week details the story of Jenna Leigh Smuts — the owner of small Cape Town business Coconut Connection.

Smuts is accusing Heather Cheung — her former business partner — of stealing her business. Cheung refutes these claims, suggesting that Smuts registered the business as sole shareholder without her consent. Cheung currently owns the competing business dubbed Coconut Connect.

The maelstrom

While the original business is three years old, it took just over a month for the business partners’ relationship to deteriorate.

“Jenna started her business in June 2014, selling coconut oil out of her car to local residents of the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town,” the Fury Marketing piece suggests.

“Having never worked in distribution before she had to learn a lot — how to brand a product, package it, distribute it etc.”

Smuts then welcomed Cheung as her business partner in 2016, as documented in a Facebook post.

Cape Town startups Coconut Connect and Coconut Connection are currently locked in a social and legal battle

In April 2017 though, Smuts couldn’t access her company’s Facebook account. Cheung reportedly renamed the page to Coconut Connect, and locked Smuts out of the account.

At the end of the month, Cheung claims that Smuts registered the business as the sole shareholder, ousting her as the partner.

“This was done without my knowledge or consent,” she explains on Facebook.

This is the post published by Heather Cheung from Coconut Connect’s Facebook page — Cheung’s competing company.

Smuts however has a different view.

“Yes we were supposed to grown [sic] the business and work together as a team,” she notes on her Facebook page.

“But I woke up one morning and she’d decided otherwise and had removed me from my admin rights on my Facebook page. I attempted to contact her several times over the weekend, to sort out our small disagreement, but she ignored me, blocked me and then sent me a ridiculous email stating how she owned Coconut Connection, as well as denying me access to my stock which was stored at her premises. Every step she took was underhanded and in an attempt to destroy me and my business.

“I had nothing to do with her decision to leave Coconut Connection and pursue this venture on her own.”

This is the post published by The Original Coconut Connection — Jenna Leigh Smuts’ company’s Facebook page.

Where are we now?

At the end of May 2017, the feud between the former partners has hit Facebook, with Smuts claiming Cheung “blatantly” stole her brand.

Cheung suggests that she is “now trading in competition with ‘The Original Coconut Connection’ to try and recoup some of the monies stolen from me”.

“I have not been bought out of my shares, nor have I been compensated in any way to date for my capital investment and dividends due,” she adds.

Cheung has also announced that she will be pursuing legal action for “defamation due to the slanderous posts, articles and comments about me personally and professionally, as well as the monies due to me”.

While both parties disagree on company ownership, it seems that both are gracious enough to respect their competition.

“At the end of the day, the truth is out there. Everyone has a choice and can decide who the’d [sic] like to support,” Smuts concludes.

“I completely respect the choice to support ‘The Original Coconut Connection’ and hope that no one is let down in any way as I have been,” Cheung adds.

We’ve reached out to both Smuts and Cheung for further comment regarding the saga.

H/T: Fury Marketing

Feature image: Chris Isherwood via Flickr (CC 2.0 BY-SA, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.