Capital: € 15 million
Age: 44
Born: 10/10/1975
Country of origin: Germany
Source of wealth: Entrepreneur, author
Last updated: 2022

Short introduction

Frank Thelen is a German entrepreneur, author and venture capitalist for young companies. Thelen became known to the general public through his participation as an investor in the VOX program “Die Höhle der Löwen”.

Thelen has been an integral part of this since 2014 and has invested in numerous companies in the food and technology sector.
In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Thelen has also become increasingly politically active in recent years. His main topics are digitization and that Germany has to become more competitive and innovative.

Early life

Frank Thelen was born in Bonn in 1975 and also spent his childhood and youth in the former federal capital. He grew up in a middle-class environment, but quickly felt called upon to be bigger. So he ended his studies in computer science to start his own company.


Frank Thelen’s career is, as is almost the norm in the tech industry, a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs.
Since founding his first company in the late 1990s, Thelen has gone through all emotional shades. However, it had always been clear to him that defeats would only be temporary. His first company twisd AG tried to market a type of router that was to connect local networks to the then relatively new Internet. The idea seemed brilliant and at times was also on the road to success. However, the bursting of the dotcom bubble destroyed the financial basis and Thelen was suddenly heavily in debt. However, he did not let this discourage him and soon developed software for a digital photo platform, which he could then sell to Fuji and probably received a double-digit million dollar amount for it. The financial situation had thus settled again and in the years that followed, Thelen founded and participated in numerous well-known companies such as Smartlane, Wunderlist and MyTaxi.

Through his involvement in “Die Höhle der Löwen” on VOX, Frank Thelen also found a new and apparently very exciting business field outside of his usual environment: the food industry.

Over the years, he finally invested in a whole range of food start-ups such as Ankerkraut (spices), Little Lunch (soups) or Lizza (low-carb pizza). Thelen also used his growing awareness to publish some books and to become involved in politics.

At the end of 2019, however, he announced that he would retire from TV and concentrate on his business activities.

Highlights of his career

1994: Foundation of his first company
2012: Chancellor Angela Merkel presented the “Innovate 4 Society Award”
2014: First participation in “The Lion’s Den” on VOX
2015: Sale of “Wunderlist” to Microsoft
2018: Publication of his biography “Startup DNA – Fall, Get Up, Change the World”

Quotes from Frank Thelen

“If you want to get ahead, pain and falls are part of it. You have to learn to get up and keep going. ”

“As an entrepreneur, you have to endure harsh criticism from investors and keep fighting.”

“As a founder, I should be able to say what I’m doing in three to four sentences. That should be the case even if I wake up drunk at night. ”

The quotes impressively show the attitude with which Frank Thelen works. In his view, there are no excuses or reasons that could permanently prevent success. However, founders and entrepreneurs have to be patient and persistent. If an idea is rejected, it must not be given up immediately. Rather, the hard work to improve so that you can convince at the next presentation. The absolute focus of the founders must be around the clock on the company. Because distractions directly endanger long-term success.

Amazing facts

Frank Thelen has not only been a computer fan since his early youth, but also a passionate skateboarder and snowboarder. To this day, he feels strongly associated with this scene and therefore supports some social projects in this area.

As already mentioned, Thelen is also politically active. He was a member of the CDU until 2017, but was called up to the Federal Assembly by the FDP in the same year as the nominated representative of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia to elect the Federal President.

Frank Thelen says he has never operated a vacuum cleaner. He revealed this in a presentation on the show “The Lion’s Den”.


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