Start-up Cupplement receives investment in TV program Dragons Den

March 1, 2021

Is it possible to create a cup of coffee that’s healthy and tasty? At the entrepreneurship laboratory Demonstrator Lab at the Vrije Universiteit, Florian Fermin (27) and Stefan Wateler (26) developed Cuppelement, a Fairtrade biodegradable coffee capsule with added superfoods and vitamins. During the Dutch TV program Dragons Den, the entrepreneurs successfully persuaded the dragons to invest in their start-up.

Pitching on national television
On Thursday 25 March, Florian and Stefan kicked off their pitch in the TV-studio with excitement. They asked the Dragons if they drank coffee and took vitamin supplements; needless to say, most of them did. Right after, they explained why the combination of their coffee and vitamins would change the world. They tried to convince the dragons to invest €150,000 in exchange for 10% of the shares of their startup Cupplement.

The dragons were blown away by their pitch. Florian and Stefan assured that they are the first provider of healthy coffee capsules in Europe and expected to have 10,000 coffee subscribers at the end of 2022. The three dragons Nikkie Plessen, Michel Perridon and Pieter Schoen made them an offer. After a quick discussion, Florian and Stefan decided to go into business with Pieter Schoen. He proposed to invest €300,000 in return for 30% of the shares of Cupplement. Why would Cupplement like to cooperate with Pieter? “We mainly sell the coffee capsules online. Pieter suits us best because of his online experience. He also has connections in the coffee world,” explained Stefan and Florian.

Next steps
Florian and Stefan explained that they will use the investment money to market new blends, such as other vitamins and super foods, and to develop other coffee products such as filter coffee and dolce gusta. “We will also use the money to research the additives of vitamins and superfood and marketing.” They are very happy with the investment of € 300.000. They had not counted on an offer of that amount and therefore did not mind to give Pieter 30% of the shares. “The investment also enables us to take the next steps. In the direct future, we plan to scale up the marketing and streamline subscriber operations such as inventory expansion and the shipping process.”

Entrepreneurial advise
What advice would you give people that are thinking of starting their own company? “Don’t be put off that you need a lot of money to start your business, but look at what options exists that can help you to get started. There are a lot of possibilities such as Demonstrator Lab,” said Florian and Stefan. “Everything accelerated after Demonstrator Lab helped us finance the first batch of capsules. And it was really valuable to be able to use the labs at Demonstrator Lab to test the capsules.”

Demonstrator Lab
They established their start up at Demonstrator Lab at the Vrije Universiteit. At the entrepreneurship laboratory, they transformed their idea of healthy and tasty coffee into tangible coffee capsules. Davide Iannuzzi, Director of Demonstrator Lab: “it’s great to see Florian and Stefan leaving the nest with so much tail wind. They are a fantastic team and I can’t wait to see them taking Cupplement to the next phase. After all, there is a tiny little bit of Demonstrator Lab in each of those capsules.”

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