Die DHDL-Löwen 2018 © MG RTL D/Bernd-Michael Maurer

Seven courageous start-ups faced "lions" in 2018

Hamburg-based founder ventured into den - new investor on 2019 show

This year’s fifth season of VOX’s TV “The Lion’s Den” has broken all records with an average 2.95 million viewers per episode and proved the most successful since the show for founders went on air. No less than seven Hamburg start-ups ventured into the lion’s den and negotiated deals successfully. Hamburg News reviews the contestants, who offered anything from overnighting adventures, anti-moth clothes hangers to quality meat.

Hamburg-based start-ups in seven of 12 episodes

Founders with innovative ideas from Hamburg made appearances in seven of all 12 episodes. During the “fourth season,” mainly Hanseatic food start-ups were guests on the show, but this year the participants reflected a particularly wide variety.

Mobile hotel rooms “Made in Hamburg”

Sleepero bei DHDL
Hamburg's Sleepero on "The Lion's Den" TV show © MG RTL D/Bernd-Michael Maurer

The Hamburg-based founders of Sleeperoo, Karen Löhnert and Dennis Brosseit, featured on the fourth episode of “The Lions’ Den”. Their business idea involves a mobile hotel room for overnight stays at unusual locations – from football stadiums, museums to the outdoors. Dagmar Wöhrl, who is also a hotel expert, remarked: “I think it’s good, very good even and I think it’s funny because we recently talked about a similar concept in the family.” She was eventually baited and agreed to invest EUR 250,000 in return for a 25.1 per cent share of the company.

Cut and dry deal

Trockenfix-Erfinder Andreas Platz mit Löwe Georg Kofler
Inventor of Trockenfix Andreas Plath with "lion" Georg Kofler © MG RTL D/Bernd-Michael Maurer

Two episodes later, the Hamburg-based insurance broker Andreas Plath, 48, entered the ring with a business solution to an everyday problem. Where do you hang up bed linen to dry? Enter Trockenfix. This spiral-shaped manual construction dries laundry without electricity, saves space and results in wrinkle-free linen in a third of the time. The idea quickly yielded two deals. Georg Kofler, the main shareholder in a mattress and bed linen retailer, first offered EUR 200,000 in return for a 49 per cent of Trockenfix followed quickly by Ralf Dümmel who offered the same investment sum. Plath eventually accepted Dümmel’s offer not least because of his renown as a northern light.

Daily helpers from Hamburg

Der Hamburger Ralph Ecks mit Caps Air
Ralph Ecks with Caps Air © MG RTL D/Bernd-Michael Maurer

A pitch by Ralph Ecks, the inventor of Caps Air proved sophisticated. The trained men’s outfitter began his apprenticeship at the tender age of 16 and has worked his way up in the industry. When he set eyes on his favourite cashmere sweater after moths had literally eaten it, he hit on the brilliant idea of a coat hanger with a capsule system that drives away moths and absorbs unpleasant smells as well. This everyday helper proved perfect for Dümmel, who offered an investment of EUR 200,000 in return for a 30 per share of the company.

Niches, rejections and reappearances

As early as the” first episode, four young founders from Hamburg presented their cheerleading fashion. Jonas Detlefsen, the twin sisters Lara and Silja Stallbaum as well as Marius Krüger founded Swedish Fall to develop functional and stylish sportswear for women e.g. knobs stop underwear from slipping and improve support when lifting. They had hoped for an investment of EUR 180,000 in return for a 15 per cent share of their company. However, the German market is too small, according to the lions and their pitch proved unsuccessful.

Wiedersehen mit der Hamburger Gründerin Annemarie Heyl
Hamburg-based founder Annemarie Heyl reappears on show © MG RTL D/Bernd-Michael Maurer

Proven founder Annemarie Heyl, who had appeared on the show in autumn 2016 with Kale&Me fruit juices made a return appearance this season with Brando Valencia, founder of Mega Lecka GmbH, who held a Chia bowl to the camera. Valencia and Kale&Me had entered a joint venture to set up the company and this proved a hurdle to negotiations with the lions, who declined to offer a deal. The product had not yet been thought through sufficiently, they said.

Daniela Westberg-Heuer and Julia Steinbach, founders of Kaiserschlüpfer, also went home without a deal. The midwife and the marketing specialist have developed underwear for pregnancy, the period after giving birth, after a caesarean section or for menstrual and back pain. But with their product and the requested EUR 100,000 in return for a 15 per cent share of their company did not win over Dagmar Wöhrl (“You have to work on the brand!”) or the other investors.

Quality meat was at the centre of the final show. Hinrich Carstensen grew up in the countryside and his parents breed their own Galloway cattle. Together with his (business) partner Lina-Louise Kaypke, he came up with a clear goal: “If an animal is killed, then it must also be marketed entirely.” The duo have taken over sales of meat for other farmers from northern Germany on their website “EinStückLand”. Customers can choose from different meat packages and the animal is only slaughtered when it has been sold entirely. However, “lion” Georg Kofler, offered EUR 200,000 in return for a 35 per cent share of the company instead of the 10 per cent envisaged by the founders who turned down the offer.

Investor Nils Glagau to join pack next year

The RTL Germany media group has announced a sixth season of the popular show with a new investor, Nils Glagau, in addition to the established lions Carsten Maschmeyer, Judith Williams, Dr. Georg Kofler, Dagmar Wöhrl, Frank Thelen and Ralf Dümmel in 2019. Glagau is managing director of Orthomol, which produces micronutrients and dietary supplements. Hamburg News will be reporting on all daring founders from Hamburg and elsewhere who appear on the show in the New Year.

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