„Höhle der Löwen“

LAIK – Creative Ways the Invest

There is no lack of new ideas for young companies in the furniture industry. However, implementation often fails due to a lack of capital. The example of the start-up LAIK from Fürstenfeldbruck shows that there are extraordinary ways to attract attention. The entrepreneurs dared to enter the "Höhle der Löwen" (The Lion's Den, the German version of Dragon's Den). We asked what new perspectives have opened up as a result of the TV appearance.

Jun 21 2022

With "iLaik" you have developed an extendable, flexible table. What hurdles did you have to overcome in the development process from prototype to series production of the piece of furniture?  

As passionate carpenters, we have always wanted to invent and build furniture that is so flexible that it revolutionises everything that exists. The biggest challenge in the more than 15 years of development was certainly the conversion from prototype to series. We fiddled with the mechanism for a long time and tried out different materials.

The idea came to us while playing with the folding rule. I pulled it apart slightly, like an accordion. The breakthrough then came with the help of state-of-the-art laser technology. This allows us to create extremely narrow kerfs for the pull-out mechanism in order to produce the tabletop from one piece.  

At the beginning of April, you were on the show "Die Höhle der Löwen" with "iLaik". Why did you choose this format and not look for investors in any other way? What were your expectations of this programme?  

The starting point was the TV show "Einfach genial" on MDR, where new ideas and products are presented. After we presented the iLAIK there, VOX and "Die Höhle der Löwen" approached us and wanted to know if we wanted to participate.

We didn't want to miss this chance and applied. After all, DHDL reaches an audience of millions. Even without a deal, the appearance paid off for us because we made our brand known nationwide.

The "iLAIK" extending table is a counter-design to conventional extending tables. Completely without a folding mechanism and without an insert tabletop, it can be continuously extended by half its basic length. Glasses, plates or bottles can remain on the top without falling down © LAIK GmbH

Potential investors criticised the selling price (1,500 euros) as being too high. Why do you think the price for "iLaik" is justified? 

Compared to conventional extension tables, we have developed a revolutionary system in which we have invested an enormous amount of time and money for years. We have tried out countless possibilities, sketched out ideas and searched for the brilliant idea.

The result of this work is our patented slat design, which is unique worldwide and therefore justifies the price. We manufacture the table with regional partners and use only the highest quality materials. This makes the iLAIK with its extension mechanism extremely durable and opens up a completely new kind of flexibility made in Germany.  

You had hoped that your TV appearance would primarily help with distribution and sales. How have you positioned yourself now in the area of distribution and sales after the broadcast? What challenges have you already been able to solve? 

The programme has already given us a big boost. After the show, we received many enquiries from potential dealers and online platforms. On this basis, our partner concept with touch points for sales has also developed further.

Here, we work together with dealers in German-speaking countries, among others. At these touch points, prospective customers can experience and try out the table live, we call it the LAIK Experience. But the online trade has also become aware of us through Höhle der Löwen, so we want to become more active here in the future. 

In addition to the table, you also have a bench and a chair in your portfolio. The chair that matches the table is the "Occo SC", which the design studio jehs+laub designed for Wilkhahn. How did this collaboration come about?  

The collaboration with Wilkhahn arose from a personal acquaintance. We were also enthusiastic about the colour palette and the quality of Wilkhahn's Occo SC chair range. When the time came to launch the iLAIK, we thought about the fact that customers also need matching chairs for a table.

The overall concept was very important to us, so we ended up applying the colours of the Occo SC to our range. This combination of chair, bench and table is harmonious and also opens up countless colour design possibilities. As far as cooperations with other furniture manufacturers are concerned, we are open to everything as long as it fits into our concept. After all, we are only at the beginning of our story.  

Tobias Jung founded Lignum Arts GmbH in 2002. In 2004, his partner Denis Dostmann joined the company. In 2020, the team around Dostmann and Jung grew: in collaboration with engineer Christian Mühlbauer, the master carpenters perfected the table construction of iLAIK. Together with Anita Pfattner and Mark Löhr from the Löhr & Partner advertising agency, they founded the patented Lignum Arts Innovative Collection, or LAIK for short.  

Author: Bernadette Trepte

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