Pizza and pasta have long been regarded as real calorie and carbohydrate bombs. Now, two young founders have tackled this topic, breathing new “low-carb life” into the two universally popular classics. Their combination of flax and chia seeds has resulted in revolutionary products which delighted the investors Frank Thelen and Carsten Maschmeyer in “Die Höhle der Löwen” the equivalent to The Shark Tank. That’s how “Lizza” was born. We interviewed founder Marc Schlegel about the current state of affairs and the future of low-carb pizza.
What is the current situation at Lizza?
Lizza is an innovative dough found in the refrigerated section, and a real alternative to conventional wheat dough. We fulfill the heartfelt wishes of many consumers: more and more people are eating consciously, and we provide the ideal basis for this. Our customers include allergy sufferers (gluten, lactose, histamine, etc.), as well as athletes and fitness enthusiasts. To date, we have sold over three million products. Hundreds of thousands of happy customers who have been unsuccessfully searching for a healthy alternative for a long time bear witness to the fact that we have responded well to the demands of the time. Meanwhile, Lizza is already available in over 6,000 supermarkets in Germany and Austria, and we are currently working on entering Switzerland. Expect some fantastic news in the near future.
First pizza and now wraps, pasta and flour. What are your plans/news for 2018?
In the last two years we have seen a lot of changes and we are very proud of how our product range is constantly expanding. In 2018, we want to focus on our pizza base. The all-rounder can be used as a bread substitute in the morning, placed on the grill in summer and eaten as a side dish or, of course, used to make pizza. We also want to improve the recipe and fluffiness of the dough. In addition, we are currently testing the next sensation in the frozen food sector – ready-made, pre-topped Lizzas. It’s going to be very exciting…
How have investors changed the way you do business after “The German Shark Tank” (DHDL for short)?
Our participation in DHDL and the addition of Frank Thelen and Carsten Maschmeyer to the company has brought with it a lot of trust and commendation, which has brought us into contact with suppliers, production and cooperation partners, and supermarkets. This has fuelled our growth enormously. The show introduced our flax and chia seed superfood dough to an audience of millions overnight.
The DHDL Investors’ commitment goes far beyond capital resources. They are truly at our side in word and deed. We have built up our online shop with the help of Frank Thelen’s team, and Carsten Maschmeyer’s team trains our sales team monthly in written and oral communication. They are very supportive, always have an open ear, ask good and critical questions, and coach us entrepreneurially.
What distribution channels do you currently use?
At the beginning, we sold our first Lizzas at a backyard market in Frankfurt. When the positive feedback kept on coming, we went into business for ourselves, developed the recipe further and sold Lizza at weekly markets and festivals. At the beginning of 2016, our online shop was born. Lizza is currently available in over 6,000 supermarkets in Germany such as Rewe, real, Edeka and Kaufland. Lizza is already stocked nationwide in all Merkur and Billa stores in Austria. We are working flat out on international expansion, and will be responsible for one or two food-related surprises both online and in supermarkets later this year.
What will be your next moves?
We will further strengthen Lizza’s distribution in German and Austrian food retailers, and enter new markets every week. We are also testing new flaxseed-based products, including a wrap and the world’s first low-carb flaxseed pasta, which has been making its way into more and more supermarkets in recent weeks.
You are striving for “responsible entrepreneurship” – what exactly do you mean and what does that look like for you?
It all starts with raw material suppliers, and doesn’t stop with our team. We want to make a difference, leaving the planet in a better condition than we found it. This is easier said than done. We pay attention to the quality of our raw materials and work hand in hand with Germany’s first organic linseed farmer in Saxony-Anhalt. We have developed an innovative cold-insulation carton made exclusively of cardboard in close cooperation with our cardboard manufacturers. Recycling is also an issue close to our heart: we reuse undamaged cold packs and insulating mats from returns, as well as using empty flour sacks as refuse sacks.
Where do you think Lizza will be in five years?
We want to push ahead with internationalization and make Lizza available in more countries. We will also continue to raise brand awareness and improve and optimize our flagship Lizza Pizza. A steep learning and growth curve is imminent, and we look forward to the next few years.