For Jörn-Marc Vogler, life before Veluvia revolved around his job as a financial manager with long hours and bad eating habits: I used to be sick a lot. I slept badly and my battery was always running on empty. His desire for change grew. A nourishing product was the obvious solution. In early 2015, Vogler and his wife Grazia de Francesco, and his sister-in-law Beatrice de Francesco hit on the idea for their start-up, Veluvia, offering natural dietary supplements. All the products are based on superfoods and key nutrients and are free of additives.
Last autumn, Vogler presented Veluvia’s product range on the VOX TV show “The Lions’ Den”, and won over three lions. Carsten Maschmeyer and Ralf Dümmel offered him EUR 300,000 for a 25.1 per cent share of his company while tech expert Frank Thelen joined in with EUR 200,000 in return for a 20 per cent share. Vogler listened to his gut feeling and opted for the double deal. Plenty has happened in the meantime. Hamburg News spoke to the three founders about the phenomenon of class instead of mass, Maschmeyer’s and Dümmel’s busy schedules and what the future holds.
Hamburg News: How have things gone for you since the deal?
Jörn-Marc: A lot has happened since then. We have attracted plenty of attention through “The Lion’s Den” show and were all over the stationary trade – from department stores to food retailers to drugstores. But the health and well-being of our customers and the quality of our products are particularly important to us. That’s why we decided to take our products out of the mass market and to focus our stationary retail activities solely on pharmacies. We have a trading partner in pharmacies for whom the same values are important.
Hamburg News: How is the co-operation with Dümmel and Maschmeyer going?
Grazia: The co-operation is going very well. Maschmeyer and Dümmel both have a great and very professional team that we can turn to at any time. They offer us advice and assistance and even come by e.g. to hold workshops on various topics, such as personnel management or addressing customers. We are especially delighted that the “lions” take part in important meetings themselves and personally contribute their entire wealth of knowledge and experience despite their busy schedules.
Hamburg News: What have you achieved together and what are your goals?
Beatrice: We have, for instance, expanded our production capacity. This has enabled us to reduce our costs and pass this advantage onto our customers. We also wanted to get closer to our customers. To do so, we launched a nice new website that provides more background information on our products and an exciting magazine. We also redesigned our social media channels and further expanded our customer service. We are pleased that we can now maintain close contact with our customers who gain more information and can contact us on all channels also. Our ecotrophologist will be happy to answer any questions. Another major goal is to expand the pharmacy channel further in future.
Many thanks for the interview.
Interview by Sarah Bischoff