Spice up your life

Ankerkraut GmbH, Jesteburg near Hamburg: nominated for a German Entrepreneur Award 2018 in the Rising Star category

High-end spice blends, beautifully packaged, very moreish and with no chemical additives –Ankerkraut has captured the hearts and cooking pots of enthusiastic amateur cooks. The panel of experts savoured the creative business concept and laudable development of the Hamburg-based company, nominating it for a German Entrepreneur Award 2018 in the Rising Star category.

About the company

Year established 2013
Founders Stefan Lemcke, Anne Lemcke
Seed Capital 50,000 euros
Turnover 2017 9 mil. euros
Employees 70

Anne and Stefan Lemcke rarely argue – unless it's about who's going to cook dinner that evening. The couple bonded over their shared love of food the moment they first met. “Our kitchen is crammed with exotic spices” says Anne. Stefan Lemcke (40), son of an aid worker, brought this passion with him from Africa, where he used to love helping out in the kitchen. However, the qualified bookbinder's career did not follow a culinary path. Until recently he ran his own online marketing agency. “I no longer wanted to promote other people's products”, he explains. For him it was “clear” that he wanted to run an online spice shop, and equally clear was: “It’s now or never”. Wife Anne (39) was not amused. She was pregnant with daughter Ida and son Lio was still small. Keeping Anne in the dark, Stefan threw his entire efforts into setting up the company. But the sham was exposed and the marriage rocked. In the end, Anne went for happiness over financial stability. She threw in her job in the music industry and joined Ankerkraut.

Sometimes you just have to have faith.

Videovorschau

Anne and Stefan Lemcke are the faces of Ankerkraut. They take pride in the excellent quality of their products which are completely free of artificial aromas and other chemical additives. “Customers can feel our enthusiasm.” Stefan gets customers' mouths watering, always creating tantalising new spice compositions. “It tastes simply delicious.” Anne deals with the packaging – the spice jars with their award-winning design look good in any kitchen. Not only that, she manages appointments and deadlines, at the same time making sure the children don’t miss out, even taking them on regular trips to the gym. The start was typical: a small commercial space, “our old papers still smell of spices today”, filling jars by hand, with the whole family buckling down to help out with large orders. Marketing professional Stefan embraced the Internet from the very onset: Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram & Co. helped Ankerkraut spread their name. “After three months it was clear it could work.” The young family lived frugally off their savings and help from their parents for around two years until they could draw their first salary. They initially focussed on barbecue spice mixes, but now their product line includes countless other spices, teas and oils. Meanwhile, Ankerkraut is not only present online but in more than 3000 shops, including supermarkets and everywhere that sells barbecuing accoutrements, like butchers, DIY stores and gift shops. In 2016 the power couple demonstrated Ankerkraut products on television, following which an investor came on board. Since then turnover has gone through the roof, with 70 employees generating around 9 million euros last year. Ankerkraut is now ready to expand and “because of the barbecue tradition” conquer the American market with its barbecuing products.

Ankerkraut GmbH

Stefan Lemcke
T(040) 52 47 714 30

stefan@ankerkraut.de
www.ankerkraut.de

Anne and Stefan Lemcke's original idea has also conquered the panel of the German Entrepreneur Award. The experts praised “the creative and authentic business concept, broad customer base and extremely positive development”, earning Ankerkraut a nomination for a German Entrepreneur Award 2018 in the Rising Star category. “We never dreamt we could make it this far. It's given us a great sense of gratification, especially since in the beginning people thought we were mad”, admitted Anne and Stefan Lemcke. “We are especially looking forward to the business mentors and high-profile contacts, because they're things money can't buy.”