"The Lion's Den": Deals with Dragon's Blood and Casablanca

“The Lion’s Den” is back from hibernation. The 15th season of the successful VOX format also focuses on the question: Is there a happy ending for the start-ups? The decision is made by the seven investors: trading professional Ralf Dümmel (57), family entrepreneur Dagmar Wöhrl (69), business giant Carsten Maschmeyer (64), CEO Nils Glagau (48), green tech investor Janna Ensthaler (40), entrepreneur Tijen Onaran (39 ) and food expert Tillman Schulz (34). Viewers can look forward to a total of eight new episodes from April 8, 2024 in the usual time slot on Monday evenings at 8:15 p.m. Were the first innovative business ideas of the new season so convincing that they opened hearts and investor accounts?

Luisa Josenhans (28), her husband Simon Josenhans (28) and Mike Obermaier (29) share a great love of bicycles. With the brand “Feschd” they present a start-up that aims to fulfill a wish of many cycling fans: a bombproof cell phone holder. “Feschd”, derived from the Swabian word for “firm”, “stable”, promises a reliably stable fixation of the smartphone on the bike in every position and on every unevenness. The trio of founders wanted an investment of 80,000 euros for 10 percent of their company. Their favorites before the pitch were Nils Glagau and Ralf Dümmel.

Tijen Onaran missed the “all-in” moment among the three of them due to the part-time jobs of the idea creators: “Is it really your baby? Then go all-in.” She was out, as were Dagmar Wöhrl and Tillman Schulz, who classified the company’s valuation as “much too high”. Nils Glagau, on the other hand, found the product “great” because it combines all the advantages of possible competitors in one: “I would really like to build a really cool brand with you.” However, he asked the three of them not ten, but twenty percent for the 80,000 euros invested. Ralf Dümmel followed suit under the same conditions. During the consultation, the three agreed to play poker again: 15 percent instead of 20 percent was the route. A big risk: What if your top favorite Nils cancels? And that’s how it happened at first. Nils Glagau was out. And when Ralf Dümmel realized that Nils was her favorite, he was out too. So no deal after all? The team fought passionately again and was finally able to change Nils Glagau’s mind. What a thrill!

See you again with Tonis Schimmelschock 5.0 from Roding (Upper Palatinate). In 2023, the two start-ups Sandro Heindl and Peter Richter and investor Ralf Dümmel found each other. At the time, Dümmel was enthusiastic about the two’s mold stop spray and invested 200,000 euros in 25 percent of the company. A year later, the company recorded six million euros in trading sales – a “huge success”, says Löwe Ralf Dümmel. The two idea generators also appreciate the collaboration so far: “That was and is simply brilliant!”

Investor Janna Ensthaler recently became a mother of three. Accordingly, she was predestined for the product from Kathrin Strickle (36), pharmaceutical representative and specialist in baby-based complementary foods from Lörrach, and her husband, mechanical engineer Kevin (33). With their ready-made mix for baby pancakes in various flavors and their start-up “Minimo”, they wanted to close a gap in the supermarket’s baby aisle. Son Kiano demonstrated how delicious he found the pancakes in a heart-warming and ad-worthy way. The lions melted away. Would you also take up Kathrin and Kevin’s offer of 85,000 euros for 15 percent of “Minimo” so boldly? Unfortunately no. Carsten Maschmeyer withdrew because the product was not yet making any sales, food expert Tillman Schulz simply considered the retail price of 6.95 euros to be too expensive. Ralf Dümmel and Dagmar Wöhrl also waved them off, so the decision now rested with new mother Janna: “But the fight against big market players is tough. I would have a lot of respect for this fight.” So she canceled. The family trio had to travel home without an investor.

What an unusual start to the pitch: While Carsten Kraus (AI expert and entrepreneur) appeared in front of the lions in the studio, his partner Markus Vollmer (entrepreneur) was connected to a video conference. Kraus reported that 500 million people meet in video calls every day. However, a large majority perceive it as a flaw that they often do not look the person they are talking to in the eye. According to Kraus, this is related to current camera technology – and both want to change that through the use of AI. Thanks to their “Casablanca” software, every participant in the conversation always looks the other person in the eyes, even when they look at the desk. “Brilliant idea,” said all the lions. Nevertheless, Ralf Dümmel was the first to get out: “Not my topic.” Nils Glagau, Dagmar Wöhrl and Janna Ensthaler also withdrew. Anders Carsten Maschmeyer: “It doesn’t bother me that others haven’t invested. Then they just don’t have any balls. In this case, I have balls.” He suggested a half million investment for 15 percent, then went to ten percent. Finally everyone agreed on 7.5 percent and a bonus if successful. Carsten Maschmeyer was therefore on board.

NUI Cosmetics goes America! Lioness Judith Williams and founder Swantje van Uehm have been working together successfully for three years now. “We managed to turn over 11.5 million euros. That’s incomparable. Especially in the premium and luxury sector, where no one dares to go because the air is so thin,” says Judith Williams. The investor and founder are together at one of the hottest agencies that specializes in introducing German brands to the American market. “We have big steps ahead of us and I have no doubt that it will be a great success!” said Judith Williams. So things can continue successfully.

Josef Klemm (38), called “Sepp”, comes from Bad Tölz and doesn’t drink beer. Together with Saif Rudi (33) and Andreas Romanowski (36) from Berlin, he presented the lions with “kukki Cocktail” – natural cocktails with ice from the bottle: “We are the only ones in the world who offer ice and fresh fruit in the bottle.” The three have been on the market with their cocktail bottles for a long time. They therefore confidently asked for 750,000 euros for five percent of their company shares. However, the founders also stated that they are not currently operating profitably, but rather are in the red. Carsten Maschmeyer had his doubts and dropped out, as did Tijen Onaran, Ralf Dümmel and Tillman Schulz: “The rating is a disgrace.” Nils Glagau was also not convinced by the actual business figures and was the last one out.

Monika (36) and her brother Michael Nätscher (40) from good decision. presented their unique Amazon toothpaste with a very special active ingredient: dragon blood, the resin of the Ecuadorian dragon tree. At the beginning of 2017, Monika traveled to Ecuador. She was immediately fascinated by the beautiful nature. Only one thing caught her eye strongly – plastic. She wants to tackle the waste problem with her fully ecological toothpaste in degradable packaging and is already successful in Ecuador. Now she wanted to gain a foothold on the German market. Ralf Dümmel wasn’t the only one who brushed his teeth extensively in the studio to test the product. Would the Lions have a “good decision” per “good decision.” meet? Janna Ensthaler, Dagmar Wöhrl and Tijean Onaran saw the chances of entering the German market as too slim and left. Carsten Maschmeyer saw it similarly. Ralf Dümmel, on the other hand, wanted to reward the two’s courage, but demanded 25 percent of the company for 100,000 euros. Monika and Michael struck and brought Ralf Dümmel on board.