Super Angel #193 Alex Berriche on how his journey to 80+ angel investments & a spot as one of Sequoia's top scouts in Europe
Learn why you musn't compromise on the quality of people, learnings from thinking and investing as a VC while bootstrapping as a founder and why networks are crucial to your success.
Today we are happy to welcome you to Alexandre Berriche, one of Europe's absolute premiere Super Angels with over 80 seed investments under his belt. Alex is incredibly humble, so we’ve done our best to be clear about just how amazing he is - he wouldn’t say it himself. So to kick things off in style, let us say that Alex is rumored to be one of Sequoia’s most active and very best-performing scouts in Europe.
In his day-to-day, Alex is also the CEO and co-founder of Fleet, a French B2B startup focused on simplifying the equipment, management, and renewal of computers and cell phones for startups and SMBs.
It’s no secret that we at eu.vc are happy and heavy users of the Vauban platform, as it allows us to punch out more content for you guys without bogging us down in back-office hassle.
Alex’s Journey Into Angel Investing
Alex is the trailblazing entrepreneur and one of Sequoia's most active and best-performing scouts in Europe. He embarked on a daring journey into the realm of angel investing, with Fleet as his vessel, back in April 2019.
A true maverick in the market, Alex shunned traditional funding methods, opting to rely solely on his resources.
Before setting sail with Fleet, Alex honed his skills and expertise amidst the bustling landscapes of Rocket Internet and Ironhack, immersing himself in the vibrant tech world. But it wasn't until his foray into angel investing that his passion truly ignited.
Over the past two years, Alex has invested in over 80 companies, an impressive feat by any measure.
Now, with the stage set, let's dive into the thrilling tales of Alex's investment deals. 🏊♀️
As a self-proclaimed generalist investor, he eschews pigeonholing himself into any particular industry. While he started focusing on the French market, he has since spread his wings, investing in ventures across the UK, Germany, and Israel.
Delving deeper into his vast portfolio, Alex's eyes light up with excitement. Although it's difficult for him to pick favorites among his numerous investments, one recent endeavor stands out from the crowd: Robco.
This thrilling collaboration with Sequoia has Alex positively buzzing.
Robco, a robotic solution for small and medium-sized businesses, initially captivated Alex. Its timing couldn't be more perfect as the labor shortage crisis continues to grip industries worldwide. Moreover, the fact that Robco chose Germany as its base makes perfect sense, given the country's flourishing industrial sector.
As Alex animatedly describes the venture, it becomes clear that his excitement is contagious. The Robco team, with their unwavering passion and expertise, has already shown immense promise. Alex eagerly awaits unveiling the venture's future results, anticipating a game-changer.
Watch Alex tell his story in his own words below 👀
Alex’s Investment Thesis & Strategy
In the thrilling world of venture capital, Alex's sights are set on a bustling year ahead. As we get into 2023, Alex envisions 40 to 50 deals on the year's horizon. A substantial increase from his previous five-year average of around 20 per year.
Alex's ambition knows no bounds.
While most of his investments will be rooted in France, where his extensive network thrives, he also harbors a strong desire to expand his reach. Germany, the United Kingdom, the Nordic region, and even Israel beckoned to him, offering promising opportunities for growth and discovery.
Alex's investment preferences lean towards the more heavy tech-based businesses. Traditional ventures and pure e-commerce endeavors fail to ignite his passion. Instead, he finds himself drawn to the captivating realms of SaaS, FinTech, and Cybersecurity, a true connoisseur of the venture capital landscape.
When selecting his investments, Alex's discerning eye focuses on the quality of the founders. Their vision, expertise, and leadership prowess drive his decision-making process. Whether they hail from FinTech or SaaS, he seeks out the best of the best, keenly aware of their immense potential.
As an angel investor and true to the humility that permeates our chat with Alex, he describes himself as a follower rather than a leader, taking pride in aligning himself with exceptional lead investors and fellow co-investors who add value to the ventures they support. Collaborating with outstanding individuals is a central pillar of his journey, and valuing and nurturing the quality of the teams and the investors he joins forces with is central to his success.
Alex's investments naturally reflect the ever-evolving market trends, with his deal flow fluctuating in response to the current landscape, showcasing the ebb and flow of industries. While web-related ventures dominated the previous year, generative AI has now taken center stage.
Humility permeates Alex's approach to investing.
He acknowledges the inherent uncertainty of the venture capital world, recognizing that the true value of an investment may not reveal itself for several years. Some ventures that appear destined for success may falter, while others that seem lackluster may rise to become unicorns.
With 80 investments under his belt, Alex is accumulating data and wisdom rapidly as he continues to fine-tune his algorithm investment by investment.
Alex embraces a "pull, not push" philosophy when managing his extensive portfolio. Alex allows the founders to dictate the level of engagement and interaction they desire, always having an open line of communication with WhatsApp as the platform for queries, discussions, and support. Be that for tactical advice, personal concerns, or strategic guidance.
Introductions and connections are areas where Alex shines. Assisting founders with introductions for current and future rounds, crafting well-structured cap tables, and facilitating international equity expansion are all part of his repertoire.
Increasing velocity & going international ✈️
Doubling down on his angel investing and recognizing the opportunity of the current market, Alex will be increasing his deployment schedule to ~40 investments over the next 12 months with tickets ranging from 10 to 50 and an average of around 30k€.
with is at a very interesting point in his investing career as he’s about to increase the velocity his investing significantly:
o, as you asked previously, so I have like, planning of, you know, like, money to deploy. In the next you know, 12 months for instance. I know on this money, you know, like, on average it's gonna be ticket size average of 30 K because some deal gonna be competitive. So I can do up to 50 K ticket, but I think on average gonna be more 30.
No, so, so 10 to 50 with average of 30. So then I have. Quite some deals to do who if I want to deploy this amount of money, then I'm thinking, okay, is there enough good deal in France to do to do a 40 deal next year? I'm not sure. And I think it's an opportunity to start building net and deal flow in those other geographies.
For the next 12 months, the plan is to allocate a ticket size of around 30K.
Now, with this allocation in mind, I ask myself, will there be enough good deals in France to do 40 deals the next year? I’m not sure, and I think there’s an opportunity to start building network and deal flow in those other geographies.
Clearly, Alex's vision extends beyond his home country as he sets his sights on international expansion. France remains a significant focus, expectedly commanding 50% of his investments, but Germany, the UK, and the Nordic region beckon with their untapped potential and complementarity to his established portfolio:
I started pondering if there would be enough promising opportunities in France alone to fulfill my goal of 40 deals next year. It's uncertain. That's when I saw a chance to expand my network and seek deal flow in other geographical regions.
These markets offer unique opportunities for growth and diversification, aligning with Alex's ambitions to explore new frontiers and forge connections on a global scale and the footprint of Fleet.
I'm personally eager to foster connections across Europe, nurturing relationships that extend beyond borders. Moreover, this year, I'm also opening up Fleet in Germany and the UK, which will have me travelling there which will surely lead me to also forge new partnerships
Recognizing the value of being inherently international, Alex seeks to pass on this perspective to his founders:
I always advise founders to bring international people to their cap tables and start making international equity stories.
Three hallmarks to look for when assessing founders
Alex's approach to assessing founders has evolved, gradually refining his algorithm with increased experience, leading him to define three core traits to look for.
Founder vision & ambition.
Alex recognizes the importance of examining a founder's ambition, paying strict attention to their vision and what they aim to build. Alex emphasizes that at the early stages of investment, seeking companies with the potential for remarkable returns, such as achieving 50x or more is imperative. When assessing this, aside from just looking at the ambition displayed by the founding team, Alex also looks at the speed at which they aspire to grow, the terms they set, and the momentum they’re able to generate.
He is keenly interested in founders with a strong product-driven mindset, understanding the significance of scalability and minimizing technical debt in the long run.
Networking & Community building.
Equally important to Alex is how founders have built their network and attracted high-quality support, including backing from venture capitalists. Building a billion-dollar company will require that founders show careful consideration of the individuals they bring into their team and cap table.
Integral to leadership and community building, Alex values founders who can clearly articulate their vision, demonstrating structured plans and thoughtful consideration of potential challenges. These qualities reflect a depth of knowledge and passion, reinforcing his confidence in their ability to navigate the entrepreneurial journey.
Lastly, preaching the gospel we love here at eu.vc, Alex places a significant emphasis on the upside potential of investments, seeking opportunities with uncapped potential for extraordinary returns rather than settling for more modest outcomes.
How bootstrapping Fleet marries with Alex’ angel investing
Alex deliberately chose to build Fleet as a bootstrap company. But not out of being anti-VC or fundraising. On the contrary, he believes fundraising can be amazing for a startup’s ability to bring about their vision. But while there are some fundraising is almost essential, there are others where it shouldn't be pursued at all. And then there are those in the gray area, where the decision to fundraise or not is more nuanced. Fleet fell into this middle category.
Initially, the plan was to fundraise, but after a few months, they realized it wasn't necessary. Fleet had solid unit economics and healthy cash flow, making external funding unnecessary.
Multiple factors contributed to his decision, including the company's potential growth, maturity, and valuation. In the case of Fleet, being a non-recurring revenue SAAS company, the potential multiples didn't align with pursuing VC funding. In fact, Alex believes they made the right choice in not fundraising, and he believes that many founders may find themselves in similar situations where fundraising isn't the optimal path.
The VC landscape used to be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution, but now it's recognized that it should be a function of the founder's risk appetite, the company's profile, scalability, and potential.
Alex’s Core Learnings from Angel Investing
First, quality of people. You must not compromise on this.
Secondly, think as a VC. Look for uncapped upside potential.
Thirdly, know your limits as an angel investor and be transparent to founders. He believes that founders should view angels as valuable casino chips, enabling them to strategically choose well-connected individuals who can provide advice or make game-changing introductions when needed.
🔫 The Quickfire Round 🔫
What is the most counterintuitive thing you've learned since you started Angel Investing?
The Power Law concept is counterintuitive to most. It goes against the typical way of thinking. Normally, we consider the possibility of losing one and winning one.
However, in angel investing, the mindset is different. It's about understanding that by investing in multiple opportunities, even if there's a risk of losing some, the focus is on optimizing for the potential to win big. It's not something that comes naturally to us as humans, but it's an important aspect to consider in angel investing.
What would be your top tips for Angels that wanna make more international investments?
I believe it depends on your position and market expertise. If you are already well-established in a specific market, focus on creating value for international investors who are interested in your market.
It becomes a win-win situation where they can help you access their market while you provide them with investment opportunities in your market.
It's a straightforward approach that benefits both parties.
What advice would you give your 10 year younger self?
This is something I've been consciously working on for quite some time now, and I believe I could have realized its importance even earlier. Surrounding myself with the best people is crucial.
It's about investing time and effort in building meaningful relationships with people I truly respect and value. I also make it a point to read books about the journeys of successful companies like Amazon and Apple. By focusing on the best individuals I can meet, learn from, and even read about, I understand the significance of standing on the shoulders of giants.
It's about leveraging the knowledge and insights gained from these exceptional individuals to further my own growth and development.
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