Founder of Hamburg-based Haselherz wins over "lions"

Chocolate novelties and "hip" tripod features on VOX's TV "The Lions' Den" - elderly contestant breaks all records
27 April 2021
Haselherz bei DHDL

Two exceptional Hamburg-based entrepreneurs tried their luck Monday (April 26) on “The Lions' Den” VOX TV show for founders. The latest edition of the show, which began airing in late March, is already averaging over two million viewers making it the most popular such show on the German market. Ebru Erkunt, a particularly ambitious founder, ventured into the den to pitch her business idea for sustainable hazelnut nougat spread. Northern light Ralf Dümmel took a fancy to her idea and sealed a deal. Then, Gert Wagner, who hails from Hamburg, presented an innovative camera tripod to the “lions”. The octogenarian broke all records as the oldest founder on the show to date. 

Founder's perseverance pays off

Erkunt had earlier launched five unsuccessful bids for a spot on the show. Her tenacity, however, paid off this Monday and the 42-year-old pitched her product range to investors Judith Williams, Carsten Maschmeyer, Georg Kofler, Nils Glagau and Ralf Dümmel. A nut-nougat organic spread without palm oil and industrial sugar is central to her idea. Apart from an investment of EUR 80,000 in return for a 20 per cent of her company, Erkunt had sought a mentor and strategic partner: "If you invest in Haselherz, you will be investing not only in delicious products, but in me as well. I fight like a lioness and never give up!"


Although Williams was impressed by Erkunt, saying: "I think she's great and incredibly strong," but, like the other lions, expressed concern about the highly-competitive chocolate industry. Dümmel eventually offered EUR 80,000 in return for a 25 per cent share of the company much to Erkunt's delight. She noted: "It was worth the fight. You take along every shambles and grow from it. Just keep going. There is something to 'believing in yourself."

83-year-old presents novel tripod

Meanwhile, the other Hanseatic contestant, Gert Wagner, presented his novel “Steadify” idea for an easy to handle, pocket-sized stabilizer that can be strapped to the hip. Wagner and his son Tobias have spent at least four years devising the alternative to heavy, awkward commercially-available tripods. The octogenarian’s impressive career as a photographer and filmmaker has led him all over the globe on behalf of major international brands and magazines. 

Steadify on "The Lion's Den"
© TVNOW/Bernd-Michael Maurer
Hamburg's Steadify duo

Gert Wagner explained: "This makes the camera stable and weightless and allows you to take sharp photos and do smooth video pans while fully mobile and leaving plenty of room for spontaneity." The duo now hope to launch their product on the world market. After investing EUR 80,000 in equity themselves, father and son had gone on the show in search of an investment of EUR 350,000 in return for a 20 per cent share of their company. Although the lions were impressed by the sprightly, elderly founder, some questions remained unanswered especially figures. Maschmeyer opted out, saying: "No business and no exact sales review. That's why I'm out." 

Although father and son failed to seal a deal, the lack of an investment has not deterred them with the duo terming their TV stint an "adventure".