Do what she can: In the second episode of her first DHDL season, Tijen Onaran gives 250,000 euros to a startup that wants to help mothers in their jobs.
The 38-year-old DHDL juror Tijen Onaran, here next to co-lion Ralf Dümmel, is the only one who decides to invest in the job-matching startup Freemom. RTL / Bernd-Michael Maurer
She seems to think like Warren Buffett, who is said to have said that you should only invest in companies whose business you understand well. New juror Tijen Onaran’s first lionesses investment goes to a startup that fits her profession perfectly. Freemom is the name of the platform that wants to bring self-employed mothers and companies together. With the aim of empowering working women and making the personnel structure of companies more diverse. A perfect match for Onaran, because she built her business on exactly these topics, women, their careers and financial independence.
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The two founders are also professionals: Lena Pieper and Anika Schmidt both worked in human resources for a long time. And they know the problems that working mothers have: Salary cuts after returning from parental leave and a lack of development opportunities, for example. When they appear on the VOX show “Die Höhle der Löwen” they present numbers like these: 40 percent of all mothers of children under the age of three work a maximum of 20 hours a week – but only twelve percent want it that way. The rest would like to work more if they were only allowed to work and if more compatibility were possible. And then there’s the ugly stigma of being a “part-time mom.” But the HR experts also know that there are 800,000 vacancies in the German economy.
Lena Pieper (left) and Anika Schmidt present the job-matching platform for working mothers, Freemom. They are hoping for an investment of 250,000 euros for 15 percent of the shares in their company. RTL / Bernd-Michael Maurer
Actually, the solution is obvious, you just have to fill these positions with mothers who are willing to work. Of course, that often doesn’t fit right away – but with their startup, Lena Pieper and Anika Schmidt want to encourage companies and show ways in which tasks can also be completed by freelancers. On her platform, women could find jobs and projects that they can do as freelancers with flexible time schedules – be it in the areas of law, IT, human resources or consulting, for example. They also offer mothers help in becoming self-employed.
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Solid business model, reserved lions
The platform’s business model has three pillars, the founders explain in the Sedung. On the one hand, the companies pay when they place ads, on the other hand, in addition to free access, there is a paid premium account for working mothers. And beyond that, Pieper and Schmidt see potential to monetize their learning opportunities for new self-employed people.
But although they all agree that the founders are tackling an important issue, four out of five are quick in their decision: they don’t want to invest. They think the competition from other established job platforms is too great. The required investment of 250,000 euros for 15 percent of the company shares is too low. That would not be enough to make the platform big enough to be successful, believes Dagmar Wöhrl. This is the case recently with Tijen Onaran, who directly admits that the topic suits her perfectly, of course – and that she could help the two founders very well. And not just with their money. But with their name and their network.
Onaran gets (almost) what she asks for
This is exactly what the lioness emphasizes several times before making a stately demand: Onaran wants twice as much. 30 percent for 250,000 euros. The founders of Freemom don’t have to think about it for long, both want it, had hoped for Onaran as an investor from the start, as they revealed in an interview with Gründerszene shortly before the broadcast. Nevertheless, they renegotiate a bit, so that in the end Tijen Onaran gets 28 percent of the shares in Freemom. This program was recorded in April, only now after the broadcast can the founders of Freemom finally use the name and network of their well-known investor, among other things for marketing and promoting the awareness of Freemom – because until now they had to keep the deal secret hold. They say they are very much looking forward to working with their lioness.
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