Hyconnect seals double deal on latest "The Lions' Den" show

Hybrid material has potential to shake up shipping and automotive industries - second TV stint for Ankerkraut
20 October 2020
Jury on "The Lion's Den" 2020

The latest season of VOX TV’s "The Lion's Den" show aired Monday (October 19, 2020) and featuring Formula One World Champion driver Nico Rosberg turned investor. A shipbuilding engineer, Dr. Lars Molter, presented his Hamburg-based Hyconnect start-up and secured a double, but conditional deal worth EUR 500,000. Anne and Stefan Lemke, the couple behind the Ankerkraut spice company based in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, made their second appearance on the show, which aired in a new TV slot. 

Hyconnect going from research to product

Molter, 39, is a veritable “northern light” and a shipbuilding engineer by profession. Born in the coastal region, he loves shipping and has come up a with a brainchild called "Fausst". The idea involves a special hybrid material consisting of metal and glass fibres, and which may yet shake up the shipping and automotive sectors. The design and light weight makes the product far more sustainable. Molter and his team of three have been working on Fausst in Barmbek since 2018. Investments have come to around EUR 250,000, but more is needed to go from research to product. Molter pitched to the “lions” for an investment of EUR 500,000 in return for a 12.5 per cent of Hyconnect.


Molter keen to change the world

Molter grabbed the judges' attention early as Hyconnect "wants to change the world". The lions Carsten Maschmeyer, Judith Williams, Nico Rosberg, Dagmar Wöhrl and Ralf Dümme took note quickly. Molter then pointed out that transport is responsible for 25 per cent of global CO2 emissions. "The heavier the means of transport, the more energy is needed. And that means more fuel, more emissions and more pollution." His idea involves combining metal and lightweight construction materials with a textile. The textile is knitted like a scarf made of metal and glass fibre threads and is then assembled into connecting elements, which in turn become part of the fibre composite." This allows Hyconnect to dispense with the complex bonding process in use hitherto and to weld lightweight construction components.

Lars Molter, founder of Hyconnect
© TVNow / Bernd-Michael Maurer
Lars Molter, founder of Hyconnect

Rosberg thrilled - Maschmeyer stirred up 

Maschmeyer,  a sales expert, and car-mad Rosberg were both charged up after the riveting pitch and made a combined offer: "We want to give you our money in two instalments - EUR 250,000 immediately and another EUR 250,000 when the licence has been settled." However, the investors insisted on more shares and requested 24.9 per cent in return for their investment. Molter negotiated, but did not bite the bullet and bargained hard. His tenacity paid off and eventually led to a compromise: EUR 500,000 in two instalments  in return for a 17.5 per cent of Hyconnect. Rosberg's hands shook as he spoke of the "enormous potential" of Fausst. Maschmeyer was impressed and told Molter: "You were the toughest negotiator on 'The Lions' Den so far."

Molter is no stranger to the Hamburg start-up scene. Apart from a grant from the Germany Ministry of Economics and Technology, the start-up also received InnoRampUp funding from the Hamburg Investment and Development Bank (IFB Hamburg) in 2018 and won the 2019 Reeperbahn Startup Pitch initiated by Hamburg Startups.

Ankerkraut on success course

Ever since Anne and Stefan Lemke pitched their idea of a spice manufactory on "The Lions' Den" show four years ago, they have been on a success course with Ankerkraut. In 2016, the founders sealed a deal with Thelen for EUR 300,000 in return for a 20 per cent share of their company. "We had a tiny production facility on about 30 square metres and about seven employees. Today, we produce around 400 products, have 130 employees in four locations and own four shops in Germany," said Stefan Lemke. Thelen praised their collaboration and noted: "Those two have become real entrepreneurial personalities. To me, that's magic."