Former professional swimmer Markus Deibler and business partner Luisa Mentele are of one mind on two things: their close relationship and their love of really good ice cream – without added flavours or colourings. With this in mind, Mentele gained a qualification from Gelato University in Bologna. The entrepreneurs opened their first small but exclusive outlet in Hamburg’s trendy St Pauli district under the name Luicella’s Ice Cream in April 2013. By 2016 they were able to open a second shop in Hamburg and started marketing hand-made ice cream in 500 ml tubs through Hamburg retail outlets.
They soon came up with a new idea: Luicella’s ice cream blend, a delicious ready-mixed ice cream. The entrepreneurial team was entering the lion’s den with this innovation last autumn. Deibler and Mentele were able to score across the board (“fantastic”, “sensational”) and immediately secured three offers for investment. Dagmar Wöhrl, who runs a family business, and retail trade expert Ralf Dümmel each put up EUR 120,000 – in return for a stake in the business of 25.1 per cent. Tech expert Frank Thelen staked a claim for 20 per cent of the investment sum required and was also able to show his expertise in design and online sales. More than a year after the deal was done, Hamburg News looked behind the scenes and asked: How did things go with the Hamburg-based ice cream maker?
Frank Thelen and his team were on hand with help and advice
“A lot has happened,” customer support manager and head of communications Annalena Thomsen says in an interview. The team has now grown to a total of 20, not counting the office dog Liska. Thomsen reports back with a smile: “Our cow has grown up!” This refers to the image of a cow on the original packaging. This design came under criticism during the presentation, as it ran against the vegan trend. The old branding has now given way to a new and fresh logo. The ice cream range has also been extended, and the additive-free product is now available in selected cafés and restaurants in Hamburg – and beyond. The entrepreneurs recently launched a new product: Luicella’s styled ice cream – in the varieties Mango Lassi and Chai Latte.
The collaboration with tech specialist Frank Thelen “is going really well”, Thomsen says. “We work closely together. Thelen sees his close co-operation with the entrepreneurs as an important factor in their success. He and his team are on hand round the clock with assistance and advice. We have already managed to put a lot into effect together. Our products are now on sale right across Germany, and we still have a quite a bit in mind together.”
Back into the lion’s den on September 25
There’s nothing stopping Luicella’s team, team member Thomsen says: “We intend to continue creating new and exciting flavours in our Hamburg ice cream parlour, never ceasing to be creative and innovative, to please more and more people with our natural ice cream.” The start-up has in addition set itself the target of gaining the interest of even more outlets and restaurants with their creations.
Confidential info from the editors: The entrepreneurial duo will venture into “The Lion’s Den” once more on September 25. With a new creation to show off naturally. Watch this space.