AHO on the most popular start-up show in German television
Hey, it's Jannis here! Many of you asked us how it came to be that AHO ended up being the most sustainable food startup in Germany on Die Höhle der Löwen.
Around 3 million people were able to get to know our food startup AHO on October 19, 2020 at 8:15 p.m. on VOX through the lion's den. We are passionate about orr product and what it stands for. DHDL was an extreme motivational boost for AHO. We completely revised our design for the show, we were able to optimise the online shop www.aho.bio and thanks to all the positive feedback in the show, we introduced new sprout cracker flavours and products such as our 'local superfoods' range and the sprout pastas.
In this little blog I want to give you some exclusive background information and tell you what happens behind the scenes at Sony, VOX and The Lion's Den.
How we applied
The production company Sony got in contact with us pretty early on in the process. About 4 weeks after the AHO.BIO GmbH was founded, the phone rang and we were asked if we would like to take part in the founders' show Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL).
Alex did some extensive research and personally called other entrepreneurs who had been on DHDL. All of them reported very positively about the show. We decided to accept the opportunity and to submit to the whole lengthy application. In spring 2020 we were in the Sony Studios in Cologne for the recording in front of the lions.
The AHO podcast from the show
How we prepared
Alex and I were two and were able to split up our topics perfectly. As a computer science and maths head, Alex was responsible for the numbers and I am the expert when it comes to healthy and sustainable nutrition. For DHDL we had to know everything from start to finish. We actually practiced our company presentation word for word by heart. When the text was 100% correct, we "hired" a rhetoric coach to show us what to do with our hands on TV.
Who was our dream 'lion'?
We actually had both a dream-lion AND a dream-lioness. Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg would have been a perfect match for AHO. AHO`s two main topics are healthy eating and sustainability. Nico is famous for his commitment to sustainability and is known for having an incredibly balanced diet himself and with his family. Unfortunately, Nico was unable to attend our shooting day in person.
The same went for our dream-lion Judith Williams. She couldn't be there on the day we were filmed. Judith loves sprouted-grains and would have been a perfect match for AHO.
Source: 'Die Höhle der Löwen', VOX. Fotocredit: TVNOW / Bernd-Michael Maurer.
What feedback were AHO given??
Of course there is much more going on behind the scenes at the lion's den than those 20 minutes you see on TV. The investors were consistently helpful and supportive. The only investor who said very little was Carsten Maschmeyer. The multimillionaire was out from the very beginning and only said that he didn't like the crackers. Everyone else spoke to us for a long time, asking a lot of background questions and gaving helpful tips. Nils Glagau said he liked the taste of the AHO pizza crackers, although this clip unfortunately did not make the final cut. Dagmar Wöhrl and Dr. Georg Kofler were interested for a long time, but the taste of our superfood crackers didn't convince them. Ralf Dümmel was particularly impressed by the story behind AHO. Nils Glagau was undecided until the very end before he too ultimately decided not to participate. AHO didn't get a mega deal at the lion's den.
A no-deal for AHO
The casting team and all the people behind the camera gave us pretty good feedback beforehand, especially with regards to the taste of the AHO crackers, and over 10,000 AHO customers confirmed the trend towards healthy and sustainable nutrition with local superfoods. In retrospect, we are quite relieved that none of the investors received shares in AHO. We are sure that it was the best for us.
The 'homestory' of AHO
With our rounded pitch and the exciting story behind our food startup, Sony wanted to take us into the broadcasting of DHDL without investing. That's why they asked us whether they could shoot a home story privately in our house in the forest and next door in our small factory at AHO. We were very happy and agreed since we'd work so well together before. That's why Sony came to us again in the summer of 2020 and shot everything possible. Half a year after we had our pitch in front of the lions, we were broadcast again on VOX. Of course we knew that we hadn't got a deal, but because of the contract we weren't allowed to tell anyone that we had participated in DHDL or even how the judges had decided.
How successful was the broadcast?
On the day our AHO pitch at the lion's den was broadcast, we were so overwhelmed by good feedback from countless people that we could hardly believe what was happening. More than 24,000 people were at the same time on our homepage. We received so many orders that we had already exceeded the € 75,000 investment we asked for in one evening. Due to the large number of new customers, we had a crowd investment and were able to scale our production so far that we can now produce over 12,000 packs of AHO crackers per month. We put the money from the evening into new machines, the expansion of our small factory and new staff. We were able to hire 10 employees and keep them for the long term. We slipped out of the niche into public awareness overnight. So many people have written or called us and share the vision of decentralized, sustainable food production with local superfoods. After the show we had some investors here who really wanted to buy shares, but we were quickly sure that we could do it on our own. We can continue to pursue our ideals autonomously. Our goal is not "infinitely" or to grow rapidly. Since we plant a tree for every pack of AHO sold, we were able to plant over 40,000 trees from the lion's den in the evening and had a very positive ecological impact.
Reviews, feedback and ratings of AHO
We are really happy about the positive feedback AHO has received. Our new customers are enthusiastic about the taste of the AHO crackers, the balanced nutrient content and the consistently practiced ecological corporate management. We have received over 200 Google reviews and thus more reviews than companies that have been established for over 20 years. Many magazines are interested in the topic of “local superfoods” and we had articles published in Fit for Fun, Desired, Stern, Bild, numerous local newspapers, an infinite number of blogs and afterwards NDR and RTL also approached us. DHDL offered us a platform to address more than 2.5 million people and we were grateful to them for giving us that platform.
Try it yourself
If you want to make your own mind up about the taste of our AHO Crackers, you can order them on our online shop. From orders above € 29 shipping is also free of charge. Feel free to let us know whether you share the opinion of the investors and what you made of our superfood crackers. We look forward to your ratings and feedback. We are always open to change and we would never have come that far if we had not constantly used criticism as an opportunity to further optimise our product. Since the show was broadcast, we've continued to work on our recipe, improved the design and keep in touch with our customers.