WHU alumni Sven Lackinger, Marik Hermann, Maximilian Messing and Tobias Weiper presented their start-up in the current season of the TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen” (“Dragons’ Den”). The program was broadcasted on Vox at 8:15 pm on October 11. In their pitch, the founding team from evopark offered the lions a 15 % share of the company in exchange for an investment of 1.5 million euros. The lions were impressed by the idea of the start-up as well as by the evopark team. Jochen Schweizer, Judith Williams and Ralf Dümmel nevertheless passed. After deliberating together, Carsten Maschmeyer and Frank Thelen offered the founders the requested 1.5 million euros for a 25.1 % stake in the business. The evopark founders conferred briefly before making the two lions a counter-offer: 16.5 % in exchange for 1.5 million euros. Since Maschmeyer and Thelen refused to back down from the 25.1 % stake in the company, the founding team decided to reject the deal.
First of all – Congratulations. You succeeded in convincing the jury and were even made an offer. Why did you reject it?
The main reason for our decision against the offer was that the ideas about the value of the company were too far apart. We had to weigh up different factors. On the one hand, we would have benefited tremendously from the experience of the lions Frank Thelen and Carsten Maschmeyer. On the other hand, we had already been through a number of rounds of financing and already had very experienced business angels from the WHU environment on board. We were therefore limited with respect to the valuation of evopark. Of course, it's always better when there's no blocking minority shareholding because then, as an entrepreneur, you can take decisions faster and more flexibly. But that wasn’t the decisive factor for our rejection. It was a difficult decision – but it was the right one! We back it 100 % and are delighted at having gained Porsche Digital GmbH as a strong investor back in June.
What has happened to you since (and as a result of) the show?
The response to our appearance has been huge. Since then a large number of new customers have chosen evopark. We have also received inquiries from car park operators from all over Germany wanting to collaborate with us. All in all, the program gave us important impetus that is helping us to make our product even more attractive for customers.
What happened to evopark between filming and broadcasting?
When our appearance on “Die Höhle der Löwen” was recorded, evopark was only available in two cities. You can now use our parking card in 50 multi-story and underground car parks in 19 cities. We increased the number of customers fivefold within the space of six months and have gained another large number since the program was broadcast. Moreover, we have also gained a large number of big-name companies as partners in the last year, including AXA insurance, Porsche Digital, Audi and a number of municipal and private car park operators. Porsche was so convinced by our concept that the company decided to invest in evopark. It's a huge success for us – after less than two years in the market.
What can you recommend to other entrepreneurs thinking about or preparing to take part?
Whatever you do, you should be 100 % behind your start-up and know the market, the competition and your own numbers. That's the only way of dealing skillfully with the questions that the lions throw at you. But the most important advice is to be authentic and give everything you have. For every lion it's ultimately a question of their taking a liking to you before making an offer. You only get the chance to present yourself to such influential investors once. Take it!
What are your plans following “Die Höhle der Löwen”?
We’ll continue to expand our network of car parks and improve our product experience in order to make our offering even more attractive for customers. A week ago, for example, we added the Gerber shopping mall in Stuttgart to our network – the first major collaboration with a shopping mall. The aim is to make parking on the site affordable and easy for customers. Customers who spend at least 50 euros in the shopping mall get one hour's parking for free.
We’re working together with our team to take evopark to the very top. Our aim is to be the number one in digital parking in Europe within five years. And with a lot of commitment, strong allies and a little bit of luck we can succeed.
You can watch evopark's entire pitch in “Die Höhle der Löwen” here.
Evopark GmbH, founded by WHU alumni in 2014, enables customers with a parking card to enter participating car parks without having to take a paper ticket. They do not need any change as no payment is made on site; electronic payment is made at the end of the month. More than 10,000 customers now use evopark's parking system.