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Xavin: A Platform for Local and Emotion-Based Investments

The Steinbeis consultant Mario Buric helps a team of business founders on the journey to self-employment

Tobias Ungerer has been a passionate member of local clubs since his childhood. Whether it was soccer, skiing, or tennis – everything he’s done for years has been with other sports enthusiasts in a club. But it’s not just sports that make being the member of a club so special for Ungerer, it’s also about sharing experiences and friendships with fellow players. You sit there exhausted after soccer practice and enjoy a beer with others in the changing rooms. On the weekend, raring to go and determined to win, you pull together for the next match. This is the sort of thing you can only enjoy in a club. But at the same time, he did keep on noticing how much help clubs needed with renovations and their infrastructure. Lousy pitches, badly working showers, dilapidated club houses. This was the motivation for Ungerer and his team mates to set up Xavin, a platform for local and “emotion-based” investments. They were supported in their venture by the Steinbeis Consultant Mario Buric.

Clubs clearly have huge investment backlogs, currently estimated at 40 billion euros. This is mainly because they don’t have much to go on when they approach banks and it’s hard for them to apply for loans. They simply can’t offer the required security and capital reserves. Because of this, Ungerer and his colleagues summoned up all their courage and set up Xavin, also thanks to the support of the Baden-Wuerttemberg State Bank (LBBW) and Pioniergeist GmbH.

Aside from the invaluable help provided by LBBW, they also received support from Steinbeiser Mario Buric, who has been working in the crowdfunding area for many years. Not only does he help founders fine-tune their business models, he also helps forge networks in the startup scene and line up client contacts. Buric also has experience in setting platforms and thanks to this experience, he was able to offer practical input as an expert on a variety of fronts, starting with the strategy to hunting down investors and important technical and regulatory issues. The point is, it’s no longer enough to just set up a website when you’re launching a crowdfunding platform. There are a number of legal requirements you have to adhere to, such as the legislation introduced in Germany to protect small investors. Buric also provides help with sales issues, especially by tapping into his network of multipliers and potential clients.

The Xavin team now helps clubs to take out loans through its members and supporters. Unlike the process with traditional donations, this now makes it possible to quickly fund large projects. In return, investors feel good about supporting a meaningful project in the local area and they receive attractive interest.

“To make loans worth it for investors, more than anything you need one thing – confidence in the club. This is because the loans qualify as a ‘subordinated debt,’ so there’s no collateral and they’re not allowed to cause a club to go bankrupt – before it gets to that point, a loan is canceled,” explains Ungerer. As a result, it’s important that the club has been managed carefully for years and projects are well planned and easy to implement. For the clubs, there is the obvious advantage that funding is uncomplicated and quick, based on a modern financing model that also offers other significant advantages thanks to Xavin. In accounting terms, banks place Xavin loans given to a club into their equity ratio. As a result, it’s less expensive for them to raise debt capital. In addition there is the possibility of obtaining funding quickly and easily from the sports federation or the public sector if money can be paid out gradually over several years.

It has been proven that this form of financing is not just a good idea in theoretical terms. Xavin has already completed three successful financing initiatives and lined up loans worth just under € 200,000 from 60 investors. In fact the projects were over-subscribed and collecting the money only took an average of 20 days. The term of the loans is usually five years and the interest rates agreed with the investors are between 1.5 and 2.2 percent. Thanks to Xavin, the TCW tennis club in Straubenhardt now has brand-new tennis courts, MTV in Stuttgart is now planning its own children’s playground, and TuS Bilfingen is building a new seminar room for adolescents – all thanks to the crowd.

“In the future, crowd funding will become increasingly important for clubs since banking is becoming more and more tightly regulated,” predicts Ungerer. At the same time, there is growing interest among investors in meaningful investments, or so-called impact investing. People want to be sure that their money is going toward a good cause. Xavin offers the possibility to add a new category within the funding mix of clubs, also providing reassurance to investors that they are supporting a meaningful project in the local area.