New season, new deals, well-known investors: At the start of the new season of “The Lion’s Den” everything is the same – at least almost. Leo Georg Kofler bought the company from colleague Ralf Dümmel at the end of 2021, which is why the duo sat in a double chair at the start of the show. Nils Glagau quickly identified similarities to the “Muppet Show”, Judith Williams christened the men’s team “Double Trouble”. But enough of the niceties, after all, the VOX start-up show is traditionally about big money for innovative ideas.
The fact that the lionesses and lions can also show their teeth turned out to be particularly true of one of the founders of the opening show: inventor Aaron Holzhäuer (17). At the age of ten he was already building his own vending machines and at the age of twelve he started programming, the Berlin student reported. In the “Lion’s Den” he presented BeeSafe, “probably the safest bike bag in the world”. Holzhäuer had previously printed the prototypes with his own 3D printer in the children’s room, now he was looking for help that was strong as a lion.
And the investors could hardly believe what a “Gyro Gearloose” (Dagmar Wöhrl) was standing in front of them. Judith Williams judged the mini safe for bicycles: “I’m just speechless.” The founder was “the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen here at your age”. Carsten Maschmeyer also found the idea, including interchangeable lids that can transform the safe into a luggage rack or a power bank, simply “brilliant”.
Several lions bared their claws at the sight of this innovation for the bicycle market. Maschmeyer quickly teamed up with colleagues Kofler and Dümmel and made big promises: “That would be a board. Then we catapult you into another sphere. Then it’s not fantastic, then it’s epitastic.” But the promised “international availability” (Kofler) had its price: for the desired sum of 145,000 euros, the trio wanted 40 percent of BeeSafe instead of the 25.1 percent offered.
The 17-year-old founder found the decision accordingly difficult. Because Dagmar Wöhrl and Nils Glagau would have accepted his initial offer without complaint. For fear of losing the promising young talent to the competition, Maschmeyer, Kofler and Dümmel adjusted their offer and only asked for 30 percent of the company shares. This concession had an effect: After a telephone agreement with his father – who will hold the company shares until the young man comes of age – Aaron Holzhäuer confessed to the investor triumvirate.
“It looks a bit like a juice shop,” speculated Carsten Maschmeyer at another start-up. But the scenery should deceive – and the lion should be as emotional as ever. The three founders Lukas Schmitz (29), Bernhard Wernberger (56) and Steffen Kirilmaz (28) had a small ring with a big impact in their luggage. “The Pago is a ring with which you can make contactless payments worldwide, like a credit card,” they presented their company Pagopace. According to Kirilmaz, the payment ring meets “the highest security standards” and is “certified by all major credit card providers”. At the end of their performance, the trio got on their knees and asked with a wink: “Which one of you will give us your yes word?”
The subsequent test run at the beach bar went like clockwork, which Maschmeyer whispered to his colleague Nils Glagau: “I’ll give half a million for that too. If it works, it will be a wonder of the world.” The fact that the ring even works when wearing gloves and can store not only debit and credit cards, but also public transport tickets and ID cards, among other things, was too much for Carsten Maschmeyer: “That’s innovation, vision, me gotta say, hopefully not hallucination.”
So was all that glitters gold? Well, not quite. Competitors who had previously had moderate success with similar products made the lion suspicious. Georg Kofler feared a “lifestyle flash in the pan” and withdrew together with Dümmel. Maschmeyer, on the other hand, was still on fire, promising a “celebrity with international reach with tens of millions of followers”, but wanted more percentages. After tough negotiations, the founders took a step towards their dream lion and sealed the deal with 200,000 euros for 15 percent plus a five percent surcharge if a milestone was reached.
However, it was not enough for comedian Amjad Abu Hamid and his start-up Mamas Falafelteig to get a deal. Although the lions really liked his frozen ready-to-eat dough and Carsten Maschmeyer liked “the sweet story”, the investors did not trust the founder to run a company. Other reasons prevented an investment at Steffanie Rainer (WITHOUTme). Dagmar Wöhrl admired “your courage”, but Georg Kofler feared that her plastic-free filling station for organic shampoo could be “realized too slowly and too expensively”. That’s why there was no money for Rainer.
At the end of their pitch, Katrin Alfen (38) and Felix Strohmaier (40) were able to cheer: “It was stupid!” That investor joined Lemonist with Georg Kofler. The product removes pesticide residues from food, but the lions questioned its effectiveness. Carsten Maschmeyer praised the “lion’s worth” approach, but shied away from the expected effort. Dümmel and Kofler showed staying power, because: “It’s enough if you make the world better step by step.” They acquired 25 percent of Lemonist for 50,000 euros.
Günther Jauch likes to have a casual saying on “Who wants to be a millionaire?”. A joke yesterday even went too far for his candidate. The young academic from Munich rebuffed the moderator.
The rivers are dry. The Po in Italy is just a little brook, on the Rhine ships are only allowed to sail slowly, on the Loire there is no more sailing. “The drought of the century: Are we currently experiencing our future?”, the Monday talk “Hard but fair” puts up for discussion.
The original of this post “”Just speechless”: Investors are tearing up the only 17-year-old inventor” comes from Teleschau.