Brilamo: Hero of the day with unagitated competence instead of visionary poseurism #DHDL
You know them well - the overconfident, visionary, sometimes slightly hyperactive founders who talk about great plans, have optimised their storytelling down to the last detail - but then also demand very self-confident assessments from investors. But on this Monday, Linda from Brilamo showed us that you can also make investors rave in a completely different way - and was overwhelmed with superlatives. Is this the new type of founder that can become a role model?
On the investment market for start-ups, we are currently experiencing one of the greatest discrepancies that there has probably ever been: On the one hand, there are the investors who are becoming increasingly cautious, making smaller investments and, above all, becoming much more focused on sensible business models. Solid figures have long since relegated the art of storytelling to the second or third row for them. But on the other hand, a large number of founders seem not to have realised this yet. Here, the storytelling is often polished for all it’s worth, but many a “business model” slide in the pitch is then limited to pure pricing.
As a result, many rounds that would have easily raised a few million at valuations of 10 million and more just 2.3 years ago simply no longer take place. But why do many start-ups still prefer to sell “the big vision” instead of showing how they can make money in the foreseeable future? Why do many founders resist so vehemently to move with the times and take into account the new wind blowing in the industry?
Of course, one can speculate endlessly about this. But one influencing factor will also be the types of personalities the scene has attracted in recent years. And such a discussion will not be able to do without the notorious “bro culture”, which has become alarmingly widespread in some cases on both the founders’ and the VC side. In this, the highest possible valuations were often celebrated irrationally strongly – after all, these are often linked to equally ambitious milestones, the missing of which can quickly lead to the downfall or even the complete demise of the company. But that didn’t seem to matter, because if one had only caught the right hype, the next investor would already be found, who would further push the ego of founders and existing investors with an even higher valuation – even if the company’s key figures spoke a completely different language. In recent months, a number of former hype start-ups have shown us more than clearly where this can end.
But are these strongly patriarchal behaviour patterns – which, by the way, are also increasingly practised by female founders – really still in keeping with the times? For apart from the greatly changed economic conditions, many VCs have understood in recent years that hard professional – and above all suitable technical – qualifications among their own employees are essential for their own success.
The time of the poseurs, dazzlers and big storytellers without real substance seems to have long since passed, and yet this type still seems to be represented by at least a very large proportion of founders.
Perhaps there is simply a lack of contrary role models who can permanently change the imprint of the scene?
Linda von Brilamo, who appeared in the 4th episode of the 13th season of “Die Höhle der Löwen”, would definitely be such a role model. She presented her polishing aid for wine and beer glasses to the lions, which is supposed to finally put an end to tedious and cumbersome polishing that can also easily break the glasses.
Unagitated, matter-of-fact and without any hint of arrogance, she told her story of how she had the need herself, found no solution and thus set about developing it herself. How her first attempts failed, she didn’t give up, put up her savings, finally even gave up her good job in the automotive industry to bring Brilamo further forward. And did everything on her own until her pitch to the lions.
The lions were already enthusiastic about the product during their presentation and even more so when they were allowed to try it out themselves. The one-woman show Linda also more than scored points in the questions that followed: she had an answer for everything and it became clear that she had the complete overview of her company. She even easily withstood the somewhat critical discussion about her final price, which was still quite high at that time. Although Nils Glagau dropped out because of this, both Judith Williams and Janna Ensthaler as well as Dagmar Wöhrl cancelled purely because they did not consider themselves the right investors in this area. Dagmar Wöhrl even hinted that she would resume negotiations if the last remaining lion Ralf Dümmel did not want to invest.
But he did not even think of sending the founder out again without a deal. In the end, the two agreed on an investment of 100,000 euros for 25% – and both the investor and the founder were beaming.
Even afterwards, all the lions present were still showering the quiet founder with superlatives – for Judith Williams, she was the hero of the evening, especially because of her bonde, unagitated but very competent manner. Janna Ensthaler was also deeply impressed and very touched by the whole performance, as it reminded her of her own founding days. Brilamo investor Ralf Dümmel also thinks Linda is just great as a person.
A wonderful example that shows that experienced investors know what is important for founders: competence instead of empty poses, a goal-oriented mindset instead of grand visions that are exuberantly embellished by storytelling.
And that is what the Brilamo founder more than embodied on this evening. She showed that competence does not have to be posed, that problem solvers can speak for themselves even without a huge vision of world domination, and that full commitment does not require storytelling that is polished and emotionally manipulative down to the last detail.
As she said in her closing statement, it is also important for founders to remain themselves, not to fake anything in order not to lose themselves at some point.
In any case, Linda did not lose anything this evening, but gained a lot: an enthusiastic investor, most likely many new customers and hopefully a role model status for a new type of founder who can still move a lot.
Photo (above): TVNOW / Bernd-Michael Maurer
Ruth Cremer is a mathematician and consultant as well as a university lecturer in the field of business models, key figures and financial planning. As a former investment manager, she knows what investors look for and also helps with pitch and document preparation in the investment or acquisition process. Since 2017, she is involved as an external consultant in the selection and preparation of the candidates in "Die Höhle der Löwen".