Frank Thelen’s start-up collects 20 million euros

That scales! True to the favorite motto of ex- “Die Höhle der Löwen” investor Frank Thelen, his investment in the start-up “Air up” has evidently paid off. As it has now become known, the beverage company Pepsico has also joined.

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In 2019, Frank Thelen and Ralf Dümmel invested in the small Munich company “Air up” outside of their “Die Höhle der Löwen” activities. The beverage innovation has now become a worthwhile investment. Because the beverage company and Coca-Cola competitor Pepsico has also participated in a company investment, the total amount of the investors: 20 million euros. That reported the “Bild am Sonntag”.

In the meantime, Frank Thelen himself has also confirmed the news. On his Instagram account he writes: “The team was able to gain more than 20 million euros in new capital in 2020 for further growth: we warmly welcome the new investors Pepsico and Five Seasons Ventures and look forward to working with them!”

Industry insiders now estimate the value of the start-up at more than 100 million euros, as the newspaper report shows.

The "Air up"-Founders: Tim Jäger, Lena Jüngst, Fabian Schlang, Simon Nüesch and Jannis Koppitz (source: air up / screenshot)The “Air up” founders: Tim Jäger, Lena Jüngst, Fabian Schlang, Simon Nüesch and Jannis Koppitz (source: air up / screenshot)

Beverage innovation for just under 40 euros

But what does “Air up” actually sell? In short: drinking bottles with aromas. To do this, they put a ring on the drinking piece of the water bottle, which releases a scent. The odorous substances should lead to the fact that the taste of slightly flavored water is simulated. The concept of making sugary soft drinks superfluous is reminiscent of Sodastream in the broadest sense – an innovation that Pepsico had already adopted around two years ago.

The “Air up” bottles are sold in supermarkets and on the Internet. The starter set with two fragrance rings for five liters of water each costs 39.90 euros. While Pepsico’s involvement seems obvious, the company could well help Five Seasons expand overseas.

The 80 Air-up employees now sell the product in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Great Britain and Switzerland are to follow soon.

Note: In an earlier version of the article it was said that Pepsico had invested 20 million euros in “Air up” alone. The beverage company was only involved in a 20 million euro investment.


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