DHDL Food Portfolio

Frank was part of the German version of the TV-Show Shark Tank (broadcasted in Germany as “Die Höhle der Löwen”) for 7 seasons. Although we always focused on investing in outstanding technology, we made an exception for the prime-time show and created a very successful food startup portfolio out of DHDL. We invested over 3 million Euros in our Food-Family. Here’s a little rundown of the investments from the show and how they’re doing today:

Season 1: Meine Spielzeugkiste, Crispy Wallet

In the first season, we had to come to terms with the fact that deep tech is not the best fit for a prime-time TV show. Our first two TV investments that actually happened in the end were “Meine Spielzeugkiste” and “Crispy Wallet”. Unfortunately, they both did not succeed in the end.

Season 2: Little Lunch, von Floerke

In 2015, we discovered the opportunity in food startups through our first investment: Little Lunch. An organic soup startup was far from the ordinary, but it taught us much about the food industry and the war for supermarket shelf space. Little Lunch was sold to Allos Hof-Manufaktur in 2020, making it the first successful exit in the show's history. Our second investment – von Floerke – did not make it.

Season 3: Ankerkraut, Lizza

Ankerkraut is living proof that a previously unknown startup can take a significant market share from established players in the food industry by offering a superior product in design and quality. The founders managed to create a love brand and sold the majority of shares to Nestle in 2022.

The German Handelsblatt quoted a revenue of 40,000,000 Euros before the Exit.

Also in Season 3, we invested in Lizza – a startup offering low-carb pizza and pasta alternatives. The majority of the shares were acquired by Cremer in 2020, resulting in another successful exit for the founders and ourselves.

Season 4: 3Bears, Luicella’s, Fittaste, Pumperlgsund

After two very successful deals, we took even more chances in Season 4 – but anyone in the Venture Capital sector knows: sometimes Startups fail. Both Fittaste and Pumperlgsund had to file for bankruptcy in 2019 and 2022. Luicella’s Ice Cream stopped selling its ice cream online and in supermarkets, but they still run a few very successful ice cream shops in Hamburg. Since this is no VC-case anymore, we gave back our shares for a symbolic euro and wrote off our money.

3Bears is still part of our portfolio and doing great. The team aimed for 10 Million Euros in revenue in 2021 and is growing even faster today.

Season 5: YFood

Another very successful food startup from the show is the meal replacement company YFood.

According to Wirtschaftwoche, they generated 120,000,000 € in revenues in 2022 and did plan to grow even faster in 2023. According to TechCrunch, YFood was valued at 469 Million Dollars in a deal with Nestle in 2023.

Seasons 6 and 7:

The investments initially planned in seasons 6 and 7 of the show ultimately did not materialize for various reasons.

Off TV: air up

This list of food investments wouldn’t be complete without air up, even though the deal was made outside the show in 2019. Air up is currently expanding to Europe and the US, backed by some well-known investors.

Recap DHDL:

Frank joined the show to grow the German Startup ecosystem. With over 4 Million viewers, an insane amount of press coverage and buzz, the show truly helped growing the Ecosystem. We never wanted to make outstanding returns, but our strategy to focus on food and support the teams with Software (Xentral), a high-profile LEH-Network and strong operational support generated outstanding returns for Freigeist. This allowed us to invest even more progressive into the next generation of Tech Founders in Europe.

This article lists the deals from the show that ended up happening off-camera. Since you never get the full picture in an on-set pitch, we always did extensive due diligence - as any venture capital firm would do before making an investment. If there were risks that Frank didn't know about when he offered an investment on camera, or if the founders changed their minds about the valuation or the shares they were willing to sell, the deal was called off. Unfortunately, this happened to every investor on the show.