7 Questions- Startups

7 Questions with Julian Oertzen, co-founder of Exporo AG

1. Who are you?

I am Julian, Co-Founder of Exporo, responsible for project acquisition, product and business development.

2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?

Exporo is a real estate crowdfunding platform acting as an intermediary between interest-seeking investors and capital-seeking real estate companies. Investments are made in form of subordinated loans serving as mezzanine capital for real estate companies and the amount per investment is starting from 500€.

Our competitors are family offices and institutional funds, which are massively engaged in the German real estate mezzanine market.

3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you finance your startup?

Increasing banking regulations due to Basel II and III make it more difficult for real estate developers to source the capital required to finance their projects. And in order to invest in real estate projects there are traditionally many obstacles for small private investors such as high minimum investment amounts, high transaction costs and project information that are targeting real estate experts rather than the average private investor. We were aware of these problems and came up with the idea of creating an online marketplace for private investors and capital seeking real estate companies.

After 3 years of bootstrapping we recently closed our series A round with eVentures, Holtzbrink, Sunstone and BPO capital.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Creating trust and awareness for the company and the revolutionary concept of real estate crowd investing has not always been easy. When people hear of “investments” they are often sceptical. Our task is to reduce this scepticism by successfully completing the projects including the repayment of the entire investment amount plus interest.

5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?

All areas relating to investments (e.g. roboadvisory, p2p lending, crowdfunding). There is so much potential of improvement if you compare it with the “established” investment products. High fees and commissions for sales and management reduce the return for investors massively. Through technology and new sales channels FinTech companies will reduce these fees and therefore offer products with a better risk/return ratio.

6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in the DACH region, and how can we help to accelerate it?

Small, lean FinTechs are more flexible than tradititonal financial service providers. They are effectively and efficiently elaborating products in order to solve specific problems. The traditional finance industry is not as agile as FinTech companies are. We make processes leaner and save costs by substituting long sales chains by direct and automated transactions.

7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?

Create a simple first product and issue it as fast as you can, even if you think it is not perfect or ready yet. Early market tests and revenues helps a lot to increase the learning curve and attract investors.