Chef.One-Gründer in DHDL © MG RTL D / Bernd-Michael Maurer

No deals for Hamburg's start-ups despite enthusiastic lions

Thelen and Williams saw billion-dollar business in Chef.One - Wöhrl initially keen to invest in Tastillery, but founders change minds

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.

Disagreement about strategic planning

Judges Judith Williams and Frank 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.”

Billion-dollar business

Erdal Alim, 33, Philipp Benseler, 32, and Dogan Ayhan, 25 have set up a dining webpage that allows amateur cooks and professionals to register as hosts on their homepage or app. Users post their menus, the prices and the maximum number of guests. Then, guests check out offers in their cities and can reserve a table. Chef.One is already available in many cities and not just in Hamburg.

Williams said: “I would love to register this evening and cook for everyone.” The successful teleshopping businesswoman recounted moving house once and finding it difficult to meet people in the new city. The webpage has great potential, according to Thelen, adding: “The platform is a billion-dollar business.”

Raising awareness of company

Chef.One’s concept is akin to that of AirBnB, the U.S. online marketplace and hospitality service for which Alim formerly worked. The trio behind Chef.One now aim to stir up the restaurant and catering business – with or without the help of the lions. But the show has proven a sensible step in the right direction. Remarking after the show, the trio said: “Publicity naturally helped our appearance on ‘The Lion’s Den’ show enormously.”

Alcohol tasting set

The second Hamburg-based start-up, Tastillery, had a similar experience on Tuesday’s show and declined to accept 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.

Right chemistry

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 Grü, but without giving a reason for their decision saying only that they remained friends with the Wöhrl family.

The fourth season of the show has ended on an exciting 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.

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