Swoop met Maxence Drummond to talk about his journey from film maker to opening the UK office of French VC firm Breega
Breega is a European VC firm built by founders to provide backing to startups ready to sell a stake in their business. Breega makes a big noise about being made of entrepreneurs who understand the needs of startups and growing businesses.
Breega was formed in 2013 in Paris, has now expanded to London and is looking at opening another office in Barcelona as well as other locations.
Tom Butterworth, Equity Manager at Swoop, talked to Maxence Drummond, Principal at Breega to find out more about the company’s attitude and investment offer.
What kind of investments does Breega make?
Breega was founded by three entrepreneurs. The idea behind Breega was to create a VC that these founders would have wanted to work alongside them. The rest of the team is also built up of entrepreneurs, so everyone in the team has experience in being a founder.
The team is very hands-on within the portfolio companies and gets involved in operations, particularly hiring; Breega employees have recruited some 120 new hires for portfolio companies in 2021, including C-level. We have grown quite quickly and now manage £250m across four different funds.
Breega invests in all Europe tickets up to £10m and likes to lead or co-lead projects. We have given a lot of backing to fintech and insurtech companies, including Curve and Moneybox.
The wider vision of the company is to be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs in terms of financing and entrepreneurial help.
You founded a company that crowdfunded film production, is this how you got into venture capital?
In France it’s common practice to take some time off from university and do an internship for six months. I ended up somehow in VC for an internship and loved it. So that was going on in the background.
At the same time as studying, I started to build a film production company that had a crowdfunding layer to finance short films and video clips. This was more of a passion project than trying to build a unicorn, as when you are that young you don’t really know how to build a company and you’re not thinking too much about the money side.
We had a crew and even financed a few movies, so we achieved what we set out to do.
From there, I went to the US to get more operational experience and helped French tech companies who had raised money in Europe to find their first clients in the States.
After a year and a half, I wanted to go back to Europe and I was pulled back to my internship in the VC space. Luckily I got a perfect match with Breega, I loved the founders’ DNA and that’s what could have been missed if I had worked in other industries.
I did two further six-month internships at different VCs, Xange and Middle East Venture Partners. Middle East Venture Partners just listed their first business on the Nasdaq a few days ago.
I have now been at Breega for almost four years and after starting in Paris was shipped to the UK to be the first person on the ground. I started in the middle of covid winter, but things have improved since then: we now have a nice office of six people based in Kings Cross, nice and easy to get the Eurostar back home!
What do you look for in a startup and in a founder? Are you more interested in the founder or the business idea?
The best mix is a founder with a mixed set of skills plus a huge market opportunity. If you find the best founder with a niche market, it might not be the best VC investment but still a great company.
Going back to the film business, it’s like the old maxim that you can have the best filmmaker ever but you’re not gonna make good movies with a shitty script.
We are also looking for someone we can see ourselves working with and that means a founder who shares the same values and ambition.
Ambition is the last part of the mix. We are looking for founders with the ambition to build a huge company and who are super resilient – that’s a value we appreciate a lot.
A founder with similar values plus an awesome product in a great market opportunity is the sweet spot.
Are there any particular investments you have recently made that stand out?
Recently, Breega started investing in Kwara – banking as a service platform based in Africa. Kwara has an amazing team and this has been a good first step for Breega in African fintech. We are looking to do more in Africa moving forward.
If you could bring three people to a dinner party, dead or alive, who would you bring?
My passion is movies, so Stanley Kubrick would be my number one. Barack Obama should have a seat at the table. And an explorer, someone who has traveled the world.
I ask everyone this, but it feels more appropriate for you! What’s your favorite film?
Anything from the Stanley Kubrick catalogue, though I’d lean towards his earlier work.
I love surfing. I know Newquay is the place but if there are any other spots in the UK I should check out, please let me know!