French startup Brigad just raised a new $30 million funding round (€28 million) as well as more than $5 million in debt. The company operates a marketplace for restaurants, caterers, private clinics, retirement homes and hospitals so that they can find freelancers for short-term missions.
Balderton Capital is leading the round, with Wendel Group, Serena Capital and Square Capital also participating.
The startup originally started with the hospitality industry in France so that restaurants could fill gaps in the schedule with extra waiters, chefs or bartenders. A couple of years ago, it expanded to a second industry with care workers.
“Our market is work that requires some specific skills and that you can’t achieve when sitting at a desk,” Brigad co-founder and CEO Florent Malbranche told me.
With this short definition, Brigad separates itself from high-skill freelancer marketplaces for business consultants and developers like Malt and Comet. It also doesn’t compete with temp staffing agency startups like Side and Jobandtalent because you can’t become a sous-chef or a nurse without some proper training — you sometimes also even need a diploma.
While the healthcare industry is a recent addition, it already represents 25% of missions on Brigad. And if you only look at requests for work opportunities from partner institutions, that percentage is even higher.
On this front, Brigad competes with Mediflash, another French freelancer marketplace for health professionals. “We have a good relationship with them. We’ve talked to each other since the beginning and we’re not covering the same regions today,” Malbranche said.
The healthcare and hospitality industries both face the same talent shortage issues. People working in these industries say that that they’re not treated well and that they have to work long hours for a low pay. That’s why many workers decide to leave their jobs to become independent freelancers.
This way, they can manage their schedule more granularly, generate more revenue and create a different relationship with restaurants, caterers and clinics. “There is a need for change in working conditions. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is even more affected than the hospitality industry,” Malbranche said.
If you talk to hospital workers, chances are they will tell you about the vicious circle of people quitting because they are fed up, which leads to more work for everyone else, which leads to more people leaving. Brigad is a solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist, but the problem is still growing.
“We have more or less the same growth rate for both industries. We grew by 2.5x between 2021 and 2022 across both verticals,” Malbranche said.
There are 10,000 organizations that have used Brigad in the past. On average they offer one mission per week. When they post a work opportunity, Brigad automatically forwards this offer to roughly two dozen people.
Only people who live in the area and have the right skills will receive a message. The mission should also pay more than what freelancers are looking for.
After that, the first person who answers is matched with the company. “On average, talent receives a hundred missions per month,” Malbranche said. Brigad takes a 20% cut on each transaction. The startup has managed 200,000 missions in 2022.
With today’s funding round, the company wants to grow its marketplace with more organizations and more freelancers. It wants to double down on its two industries in its two core markets — France and the U.K.
If things go well, Brigad might be looking for more funding in a year or two in order to expand to new markets. For now, it’s time to recruit 100 people to scale its marketplace.