Six Hamburg-based food start-ups won over investors on VOX TV’s “The Lion’s Den” show for founders with ready mix ice-cream, pasta alternatives or a quasi-Tinder app for foodies. These fledgling companies have raised Hamburg’s profile as an excellent location for innovative food companies. Every fifth start-up in Hamburg has a business model focusing on nutrition, food products or digital solutions for food related issues, according to Hamburg Startups monitor.
Luicella’s ice mix spoilt for choice
Markus Deibler, 27, and Luisa Mentele, 29, from north Germany stirred up great excitement at the start of show in September with their ready mix ice cream in quirky flavours like avocado with raspberry sauce or chocolate-orange ice cream. The flavours are already big hits at their two ice cream parlours in Hamburg. During the show, the duo received three offers. Dagmar Wöhrl and retail expert Ralf Dümmel offered EUR 120,000 each in return for a 25 per cent share of their company while Frank Thelen offered the same amount in exchange for 20 per cent as well as his expertise in design and online sales. The entrepreneurs eventually accepted his offer.
Amazing pitch by founder of “kajnok“
The Hamburg-based founder Sonja Zuber was also spoilt for choice on entering “The Lion’s Den”. Three lions offered to invest in her “kajnok” brand of pasta which is vegan, free of fat, sugar and gluten and has only eight calories per 100 grams. Zuber left the studio with a deal for EUR 400,000 and a 26 per cent share offered by “guest lion” Georg Kofler. The investors Wöhrl and Dümmel had also tried to seal a deal for the “super thing” with the “great woman”. However, events took a surprising turn in the two months after the show and the deal fell through,” Hamburger Abendblatt and Gründerszene reported. Differences had apparently emerged during meetings with representatives of Kofler’s Glow Media Group.
Zuber told Gründerszene: “The synergies were not quite as expected… at least not enough to give the investor shares of my company.” However, the TV pitch was not unsuccessful and the founder is likely to benefit from ideas learnt there, she said. “We have invested our own money (meanwhile) and can implement what was discussed during the show. We have improved our online presence and are now working with an agency,” she added.
Veluvia’s expertise wins over judges
Jörn-Marc Vogler, 45, founder of Veluvia, also secured an investment from “lions” with their food supplements that make a healthy diet possible even when people are stressed. The capsules are full of only natural ingredients and free of additives, which is a clear advantage on the market, Vogler told the judges. The capsules come in different variations e.g. “Energy” – a mix of chilli, cocoa, maté and green tea.
Maschmeyer and Dümmel conferred briefly and apparently agreed: “I’m excited by your expertise,” Maschmeyer told Vogler and offered the joint deal of EUR 300,000 in return for a 25.1 per cent share of the company. Thelen, an online specialist, also offered EUR 200,000 in return for a 20 per cent share, saying: “I like your story and I invest in founders.” However, Vogler eventually opted for the deal with Dümmel and Maschmeyer. Later, Vogler said: “We will be able to grow sales to EUR 50 million in five years with two lions on board.” Veluvia is probably not the last Hamburg-based success story to emerge from “The Lion’s Den”.
Foodguide bound for USA with Maschmeyer
Malte Steiert, 24, and Finn Fahrenkrug, 26, the founders of the Hamburg-based Foodguide start-up managed to seal an investment deal with “lion” Maschmeyer after successfully pitching their social food app. The duo sent another “lion” Judith Williams in search of a restaurant on her imaginary tour of Paris. Similar to Tinder, Williams soon “swiped” her favourite restaurant on Foodguide. The app tracks down restaurants in a user’s location and shows photos of the most popular dishes and uploaded by fans. Williams soon had a choice of beef burger, a veggie bowl or a tartar of tuna to order in Paris. Users can also reserve a restaurant table and pay for the food on the app, the founders stressed.
Eventually, Maschmeyer offered to invest EUR 450,000 in return for a 31.6 per cent share of the company and will now help the duo launch on the U.S. market. Maschmeyer owns an investment company in San Francisco among others.
Two convincing pitches and offers – no deals
Two ambitious Hamburg-based food start-ups turned down two investment offers from investors on VOX TV’s “The Lion’s Den” show after pitching during the final of the fourth series Tuesday. Judges Williams and Thelen had offered EUR 150,000 for a 25 per cent share of Chef.One after their convincing pitch. Yet the deal fell through. Eddy Alim, co-founder of Chef.One told the daily Hamburger Abendblatt: “The three judges differed slightly on the strategic development of Chef.One. So we eventually decided not to accept the deal.”
The second Hamburg-based start-up, Tastillery, had a similar experience on the show and rejected a deal. Cousins Andreas, 28, and Waldemar Wegelin, 35, presented their tasting sets consisting of gin, whisky, cognac or rum. Customers who like the set can order bigger bottles of the spirits in their online shop.
The duo had requested EUR 100,000 from the lions in return for a 20 per cent share of their company. Wöhrl had been keen to seal the deal straight away. “We are building up a brand,” she noted. However, the deal fell through after the show: “The chemistry was right. But we decided to remain independent and to finance the company ourselves,” the cousins told Gründerszene.de.
The fourth season of the show has ended on a thrilling note. Hamburg-based start-ups have performed well and indicated the great potential in the Hanseatic entrepreneurial scene. Hamburg News will follow the fate of other start-ups that venture into “The Lion’s Den” next season.