French startup Brigad has raised a €33M Series B round led by Balderton Capital with participation from Wendel Group, Serena Capital and Square Capital.
While finding work remains a challenge, it remains especially difficult for self-employed professionals. For those in the hospitality industry, Brigad wants to be a solution.
The platform built by Paris-based Brigad connects skilled self-employed hospitality professionals with rewarding short-term work in leading hospitality businesses.
As people look for more flexible work and the hospitality industry tries to move away from its reputation from gruelling work hours, Brigad is solving an old problem with the twist of technology.
Connecting freelance hospitality professionals
The hospitality industry remains one of the industries with high turnover where talented professionals have come to reject long and unsociable hours.
With the pandemic forcing a number of hospitality businesses in the UK and France to shut shop due to plunging revenues or shortage of talent, Brigad has come to fill the talent gap.
Florent Malbranche , CEO and co-founder of Brigad, sees “lack of recognition, tough working conditions, and low revenues” as the root cause for talent exodus affecting the hospitality business.
In order to support hospitality professionals looking for rewarding work in their industry, Malbranche started Brigad with Alexandre Rovetto and Jean Lebrument in 2016.
The premise is simple. The hospitality businesses can post one or more missions either for the day or weeks or months ahead.
Brigad will then match the mission with hospitality professionals possessing right skill set. The startup claims that 7 in 10 users would have left the industry if they had not found the platform.
The platform is used by leading hotels and restaurants, including the Berkeley Hotel in London, The Ritz, Isabel Mayfair, Mosaic Pubs, Sketch, Nobu, Big Mamma, Urban Pubs & Bars, City Pub Group, The Breakfast Club, Burger & Lobster, Pachamama, Coya, The Maine, Star Hotels, W London Hotel, and Bill’s Restaurants.
Malbranche adds that the platform aims to make the work look attractive, which is only possible by addressing “the ability to plan ahead, income, and working conditions.”
A changing talent landscape
One of the biggest changes in the post- COVID talent landscape is the desire for employees to have a flexible work environment. While the hospitality industry remains fragmented, Brigad helps the self-employed professionals find flexible work on its platform.
“Flexibility is a positive feedback we receive a lot,” says Malbranche. “It is made possible by the great technology we build.”
He adds that it would not be possible for them to connect offer and demand without a platform that understands this divide.
With its technology capable of connecting the skilled professional with the right on-demand job offer, Brigad is essentially driving the change.
“In addition, we make flexible work safe, helping businesses and talents to connect in good conditions,” Malbranche adds.
Growth and expansion on the cards
The hospitality industry in the UK remains in crisis due to staff shortage. A survey by the UK’s hospitality trade bodies found one in three businesses closing “one or more days a week” due to staff shortages.
With 20,000 missions being matched each month, Brigad not only sees an opportunity to grow but also expand.
It says missions posted on its platform in 2022 grew by 170 per cent over previous year and has seen 2.7x growth between January 2021 and January 2022.
With a proven business model capable of connecting professionals with right freelance job opportunities, Brigad now wants to be “an essential tool for management teams.”
In other words, it wants to be the platform through which hospitality businesses manage their staffing needs and complete payroll as well.
With the €33M Series B, Brigad plans to offer more tools and events through its platform and also onboard smaller independent businesses.
It currently operates in eight European cities including Paris , London, Manchester and Birmingham, Malbranche says the startup will focus on expanding in France and the UK before expanding to other countries.
“Brigad was created to become an international company and an European leader,” he says. “This explains our early launch in London (back in 2018), and yes, Square Capital helped [with hiring and onboarding first users]. Balderton comes in with a very high ambition and a solid network in the UK and other countries.”
David Thevenon, Partner at Balderton Capital, says, “We are delighted to be supporting this team and their vision for the future of work. For so many organisations, finding qualified workers to fill their rotas can be a total nightmare. Brigad solves this problem at scale, offering workers the flexibility and recognition they deserve.”
With €50M in total funding, Malbranche says they are also looking into merger and acquisition opportunities to fuel growth in Europe.
Apart from expansion, Brigad will continue its diversification into other industries.
Malbranche tells Silicon Canals that Brigad sees a target market of 100 million people in Europe, which the startup describes as “skilled deskless workers” with specific experience working in hospitality and healthcare but also education and construction.
However, to make this a reality, the startup aims to add 100 positions across sales, tech and product. This will bring its headcount to 250 people from 150 talents.
Brigad finds itself in a unique place where it offers flexible, short term jobs widely sought out by professionals. With a proven technology platform and backing from connected investors, it is poised to chase growth and expansion.