Young entrepreneurs stand vulnerable in front of «lions», hoping to do more than just survive. This is the concept of a German TV show called “Die Höhle der Löwen,” or “Lion’s Den” in English, where group of start-ups fight for capital for their company. The young entrepreneurs have just a few precious minutes to introduce their company to prominent investors. If interest is aroused, the lions make an offer for company shares. Various Swiss start-ups have participated in the show that has aired since 2014. StartAlp spoke with Kaspar Schmocker from Senso Pro. Together with three other partners, the 28-year-old Swiss entrepreneur developed a special fitness machine.
To start: Why did you participate in the Lion’s Den?
We already had experience within the Swiss market and wanted to raise the same awareness for our company in Germany. We knew that an expansion would be expensive, and at that time we were living hand to mouth. My girlfriend submitted an application in my name for the show. As a joke, I registered her for a German quiz show. In the end, we were suddenly both on TV.
Did you participate just for the marketing?
We hoped that the deal would actually work and we’d gain some investors. We would have accepted the offer even at a little less, so it was not just marketing.
You were offered a deal that you didn’t accept? Why?
Our pain threshold was 20 percent, and the offer was too far away from that number. The investor wanted 30 percent of the company shares for 350,000 euros. It was a gut feeling. I can’t prove it, but I think the decision still feels right.
What did you get out of the TV show experience?
It was an extreme marketing opportunity for us and we had a lot of inquiries afterwards. We found a different investment partner and now also a sales partner in Germany, where we have sold several devices.
Did you have any contact with the prominent investors after the show?
We sent the investor Judith Williams a private offer, but nothing happened.
«I was really nervous»
Kaspar Schmocker, Founder of Sensopro
Did you meet other young entrepreneurs in the show?
Nothing of interest happened in the waiting room. We had some contact through social media, but so far there has been no concrete cooperation.
The entertainment shows in Germany have the reputation for being scripted. Is that correct?
The show is extremely authentic. You don’t know the lions before you make your presentation to them, which creates a special tension. We had to wear a bit of makeup, but everything was done without scripts. We were briefly trained on how to stand before the cameras and the times were regulated. I was really nervous. Some participants from the shows are stalked afterwards – it can make your life more difficult.
Did you prepare well for the show?
Preparation is everything! We were three people and divided the whole process among ourselves. The conversion from Euro to Swiss francs was particularly important. Everything took a lot of time.
Did you have to keep the results secret?
Yes! We had to be silent for four months, but then organized a small public viewing. The people closest to our operations knew it before, of course. It was stipulated in the contract that publication of the results before the show was aired was forbidden.
Do you still watch the show?
I always switch it on. I find the show very exciting.
Since participating in the show, you have the desired distribution in Germany. What are the future plans?
We have a lot to adjust within the software. A lot of money will be also invested in training videos.
How big are you now and what well-known people are your customers?
Ten employees currently work for us. Our most well-known customers are FC Basel, FC Zürich, Manchester City and the Swiss national football team.
Thanks for the interview