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Toni Kroos invests in Berlin rental car startup

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Toni Kroos invests in Berlin rental car startup

Toni Kroos is one of the most successful players of his time on the pitch. Will he also make a breakthrough as a start-up investor? A new deal makes people sit up and take notice.

Toni Kroos (33) in the Real Madrid jersey: With 31 trophies won in European club and national team football, the most successful German kicker.

The most successful German soccer professional based on trophies won, Toni Kroos, is expanding his activities as a start-up investor. Like the start-up scene via the analysis service Startupdetector found out, Kroos joined the Berlin rental car startup Duke. For the ex-national player and midfield strategist from Real Madrid, it is only the second commitment as an investor.

It is not known how much Kroos contributed. According to the commercial register, however, he owns almost 14 percent of the company shares. For an angel investment, that’s an unusually high stake. For comparison: Business Angels usually give at first between 25,000 and 50,000 euros per investment and receive an average of 2.5 percent of the shares in the first round.

“As easy as ordering a pizza”

When asked by the start-up scene, Gunter Wakulat, co-founder and CEO of Duke, did not want to comment on the footballer’s entry. Wakulat also did not provide any information on the amount of the financing round. Only this much: “We are still at the very beginning and have little more than an idea.” In addition to Toni Kroos, the groups Axel Springer (founder scene belongs to the media house) and Porsche as well as Vealo Ventures from Nuremberg are among the sponsors of Duke.

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Rental cars can be booked via the startup’s homepage, but with the special feature that customers do not have to pick them up at a branch. Instead, employees bring the vehicle directly to the front door and pick it up again later. According to the founders, longer waiting times and paperwork, as is common with many providers, should be eliminated. Booking a rental car should be as easy as ordering a pizza, according to the website.

Toni Kroos could use social media reach

Behind the startup, which was only founded in August 2022, are two founders with industry experience. Gunter Wakulat and his co-founder Eric Schwarzer were previously managing directors of the online platform Miet24.de. According to the company, “everything” can be rented via the portal, mobile homes and hedge trimmers, for example, but also musicians and strippers for party evenings.

It is unclear what role professional soccer player Toni Kroos will play at Duke in the future. Since he has a significant stake in the company with 14 percent, a silent participation seems unlikely. He will probably also be operationally active, for example as a testimonial and brand ambassador. Around 40 million people follow Kroos on Instagram alone. On top of that, Kroos runs his own podcast.

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In addition to the rental car startup Duke, there is another tech company in the portfolio of the native of Greifswald. In October 2022, Kroos had attended the Antidepressiva-Firma HMNC involved, which was co-founded by investor Carsten Maschmeyer, among others.

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With this, Kroos follows a trend that has been growing among professional athletes for years. More and more soccer players are investing in startups after or during their active career; also in order to build up a second financial mainstay in the long term, which no longer necessarily has to be a trainer or TV job. The busiest business angels in this area include, for example Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm.

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