Having eyes and ears everywhere to always be on the right track: this is the principle behind the “scouting” programs created by several Anglo-Saxon venture capital funds, including Sequoia Capital. In sum, the fund selects a few entrepreneurs, investors or personalities from a country’s start-up ecosystem and gives them an envelope that they “spend” on the nuggets of their choice. Result: Sequoia can return early to the capital of a young shoot without needing its own team on site. Some French accepted this atypical mission. Pictures.
Alexandre Berriche, the very active angel in business
Everyone has their own click. For Alexandre Berriche, it’s “Something Ventured”, a Netflix documentary that chronicles the beginnings of Silicon Valley and its emblematic players such as Apple, Google and Sequoia Capital. “It’s a legendary brand. I feel it is a tremendous privilege to have them work today, ”said the 30 -year -old who became a scout for the American venture capital fund in 2021.
Before falling into the world of start-ups, Alexandre Berriche began his career at EY and then spent less than a year at EMCap Partners, a French private equity fund. In 2014 the “serious things” started. He joined popular German start-up studio Rocket Internet as head of operations in North Africa. There he met other members of the “Rocket Internet Mafia” such as David Sainteff, partner at Global Founders Capital.
In 2015, Alexandre Berriche took over management of Jumia in Tunisia, a pan-African e-commerce platform from Rocket Internet. Changing the universe two years later with the vice president of operators of Ironhack, a school of code he has developed around the world. With this experience he began to invest personally in start-ups and his first choice was to turn to Convelio, an expert in the transportation of works of art.
Since then, he has invested in approximately thirty start-ups, including wealth management application Finary, cyber insurance Stoik and Kinetix, a platform that lets you create 3D characters for the metaverse. The investment was not enough and Alexandre Berriche started doing business in 2019 with Fleet, a start-up for renting and managing computer and tablet fleets for companies.
His role as managing director does not prevent him from continuing to invest in start-ups on his behalf and that of Sequoia Capital. “It’s an interesting format because it helps create a community in France around Sequoia,” Alexandre Berriche said. And is it possible to join the fund full-time? “I don’t know what life is like but it’s a great privilege for them to work. »
Maxime Brousse and Charlotte Cadé, the scout couple
In private life as well as at work, Maxime Brousse and Charlotte Cadé are inseparable. The couple runs Selency, a second-hand decorating site that draws 2.5 million visitors per month and recently raised 35 million euros. In their spare time, these entrepreneurs are looking for Sequoia. A task that was due to their closeness to Luciana Lixandru, a partner for the London-based American fund, who invested in Selency when she officiated at Accel Partners.
Maxime Brousse is convinced of the relevance of the scout model. “We bring proximity to the field”, explains the entrepreneur, who has detailed knowledge of French Tech and makes investments of “20,000 euros on average”. The boss, for example, put a ticket to Maki, a start-up that allows companies to recruit more diverse profiles, or Numary, a fintech handed over by Y Combinator. “For this project, I had another business angel invested and I helped find a co-founder,” he explains.
When they saw a start-up with huge potential, the couple sent the case to Sequoia, which should then give the green light. The Sequoia label is often very reassuring for entrepreneurs, who know that this fund is behind major tech successes (Zoom, DoorDash, Airbnb, Stripe, Square, etc.) and it can accompany them later in Series A or b.
Maxime Brousse and Charlotte Cadé can invest in all tech verticals and say they have no pressure on the number of operations they have to perform each year. They consider this experience to enrich the person, but also the professional. “It feeds our business to Selency,” Maxime Brousse said. Scouting for Sequoia is not paid, but Maxime Brousse and Charlotte Cadé will receive a financial bonus based on the performance of the start-ups they dig for Sequoia.
Roxanne Varza, French Tech columnist
Roxanne Varza is the head of Station F, the “largest start-up incubator in the world”. So it’s no coincidence that Sequoia assigned him to watch French Tech’s most promising nuggets. Scout is a function he knows at heart: he has done, in the past, the same thing for Atomico funds.
The 30-year-old did not, however, choose the easy way. “I spend more time looking outside Station F to make my investments,” he explains. A way to sharpen his curiosity, but also not to accuse him of conflict of interest.
The partnership with Sequoia, a California venture capital giant, was no match for Roxanne Varza, who was born in Palo Alto to Iranian parents, studied in Los Angeles, then continued her education in France. For a few years, he became a pillar of French Tech and worked for Techcrunch and Microsoft, before landing in the direction of Station F.
This woman with Xavier Niel’s ears and campaigning for gender equality at Tech has injected funds into Claap, Arianee, Figures and Moka.care for Sequoia. “They’ll give you an envelope and you choose the size of your tickets,” he explains. “We came in the early stages and sometimes we were two scouts on the same deal.»
Roxanne Varza has a relationship of trust with Luciana Lixandru, with whom she has long known and appreciated the modus operandi of the fund. “It is very easy. An investment can only take a few days ”. The partnership with Sequoia is not exclusive. Roxanne Varza has thus invested in a personal capacity in start-ups such as Résilience, Folk or Dance.