This start-up story shows how important good female investors are

Lelia König and her co-founder launch a first dashcam specifically for cyclists. The road to get there was difficult. An investor made the difference.

There is a point in many start-up stories when founders realize that things can't go on like this. In the case of Lelia König and her co-founder Sandro Beck, this point was reached after six months and a loss of 50,000 euros. That's how long the pair had trusted that the external company would actually manage to turn their idea of a dashcam for cyclists into a concept and then a prototype. "We then realised: they had completely ripped us off," says Lelia König Nothing had come of the lofty promises - and König and Beck had to start again.

The fate of König and Beck shows how quickly start-ups threaten to fail when others suddenly want to earn money. And it is a lesson in how important business angels can be in the early phase of a start-up to avoid such blunders. The past years in the history of Dashfactory also show that a setback is just a setback - and by no means has to be the end.

When König and Beck finally parted ways with the external company, the idea of the Dashcam was already many months old. It was born out of their shared hobby: cycling. Both König, who recently won the Digital Female Leader Award in the Mobility category, and Beck enjoy cycling, sometimes competitively. In recent years, dangerous situations have repeatedly arisen during training rides. Sometimes the car did not keep the minimum distance, sometimes overtook much too closely. No matter what they did: They couldn't prove the wrongdoing. So they first screwed a Gopro to the bike, which was not legally sustainable. Constant filming is forbidden in Germany. But is there no other way?

The first pitch deck was created in a single day - and was a hit.

What the two had in mind was a dashcam specifically for bikes, equipped with a distance sensor that watches the cars behind you, a tail light and a camera that can film at a 120-degree angle. The camera is on all the time, but overdubs every few minutes. Only when a car gets too close or the camera registers a crash does it save the recording - giving cyclists the opportunity to prove motorists' wrongdoing for the first time.

But the fact that the camera exists today is by no means a matter of course. König and Beck were not only unsure at the beginning whether they should even take the plunge into self-employment. Especially the trained bank clerk hesitated, a foundation seemed too uncertain. And then there were massive difficulties on the way to the first product - which the two were only able to overcome thanks to an investor.

The idea for such a camera had been haunting the minds of the two for several years. However, they realized it for the first time at a start-up workshop in Jena in November 2018, where they designed a pitch deck within a day, fine-tuned the idea and presented it in the evening. They received so much positive feedback on the pitch that they started their own business a short time later.

They had even won over an investor, even if she was only active in an advisory capacity for the first few months: BM-T Beteiligungsmanagement Thüringen GmbH, or more precisely Katja Butzmann. She was to be the one to accompany the young start-up until its camera was ready for the market. "Without her, the start-up would probably not exist. When things are going badly, she helps you up and when things are going well, she kept us grounded. That was worth a lot," King says today. Butzmann instructed them in the start-up world, adjusted the marketing budget upwards and made the contacts the founding couple needed.

Half of the start-up's funding comes from government donors

BM-T, a semi-public investor, later also became the start-up's first backer. The investment company initially invested 125,000 euros for ten percent of the shares, and later it and another investor will inject around 600,000 in a convertible loan. "You don't hear that much about investors, at least not much good, but we hit the jackpot," König says of Butzmann.

Until it got this far, however, there was still a real odyssey ahead of Dashfactory, as König tells us today. The business plan and the idea were both relatively quick to come up with. But since neither of them had a technical background, they needed external engineers and a company that would also implement the whole thing. After a few weeks, they had found a company. Four months and 50,000 euros later, it was clear: there would be no concept. Two different consultants followed and a second developer, with whom they terminated the cooperation three months later. Only then did they go into production.

With the new external company, things went faster. Within a year, the technical concept of the dashcam was ready, shortly afterwards there were the first prototypes and in the meantime the first deliveries are coming off the production line in Slovakia. The start-up has already received 1500 orders, even though the cam is only available for pre-order and at a hefty price of 229 euros. The target group, either commuters on bicycles, parents who buy it for their children or adults who buy it for their parents, apparently don't mind the price. Continuing has paid off for König and her co-founder.

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