Rooted in the Hanseatic city – a portrait of Exporo
In this portrait series, we showcase the stories and business models of Hamburg companies and institutions in the financial industry. This time, we take a look at the real estate crowdfunders Exporo.
It was in the nineties when three teenagers - Julian Oertzen, Simon Brunke and Björn Maronde - celebrated their first parties outside of Hamburg in Winsen (Luhe). 20 years later they are celebrating something different; they have since moved up the Elbe to Hamburg's HafenCity and are bosses of their own company Exporo with an annual turnover in the financial year 2018 in the high double-digit million range.
On their crowdfunding platform, private investors can invest in real-estate projects previously reserved for professional investors. Exporo earns commission fees, which are paid for by the project developers. In 2018, the portfolio of the now grown-up start-up was extended by a bond that allows investors to participate in existing real estate.
The friends from school have worked together on the platform since 2014. Today, it is the market leader in the field of digital real-estate investments. At the time, it was a natural thing for the team to set up their own company in the “most beautiful city in the world”, says CEO Simon Brunke. So, it was just as natural for the first real-estate project financed through the platform - the construction of a residential building on Feldbrunnenstrasse - was a Hamburg-based project. For the company, this first serve was a success: With a volume of EUR 2.1 million from 440 investors, it was the second largest real-estate crowdfunding project in Europe at that time - and Exporo even received the Real Estate Manager Award in 2016 for this.
Since then, the company has steadily grown, until in November 2018, for example, it financed more than 140 projects and brokered over EUR 260 million in capital. In June 2018, the 100th employee came on board; since then numbers have increased yet further to 118. Simon Brunke: “They also value Hamburg as a location with its large and well-established financial and real-estate industry, its diverse fintech scene and the attractive location of its headquarters in HafenCity.”
Another “Hanseatic” in Exporo: this is what Brunke called himself in an interview a while ago. He does not like debts, he said, because he is an “attuned Hanseatic”. That's one of the reasons why the company's founders initially put their own money into the company, reportedly a mid-six-figure sum. They didn’t pay themselves a salary for many years. Exporo is now better positioned and has kept its feet firmly on Hanseatic ground despite large rounds of financing.
Zinsland and ReaCapital are two other successful Hamburg fintechs in the market for real-estate crowdfunding - making Hamburg the undisputed market leader in this fintech segment