Based in London, and with offices in Munich and Milan, Breed Reply not only offers IoT startups access to funding, bespoke support and mentoring, but also access to a network of contacts, potential customers and investors. We recently sat down for an interview with Breed Reply CEO Emanuele Angelidis, a serial entrepreneur who also co-founded Fastweb, one of Italy’s largest telecoms companies.
What is Breed Reply and how did it all start?
Breed Reply is an active operational investor that funds and supports the development of early-stage companies in the Internet of Things (IoT) primarily in Europe. We started in 2014 and are based in London, with operational offices in Germany and Italy. Breed Reply is part of the Reply network which is a group of highly specialised companies, which support leading industrial organisations in defining and developing business models.
I started Breed Reply because I am passionate about the change I believe IoT can bring to a whole variety of industries and sectors. I was fortunate to have a long, successful career in the telecoms industry. I started at Italtel Telecomunicazioni, and in 1994 took part in the startup and development of Omnitel, latterly Vodafone Italy. In 1999 I co-founded Fastweb, one of Italy’s largest telecoms companies, and was CEO. Having witnessed the birth of mobile, I think IoT has the potential to have an even more significant impact.
How does your approach to investment differ from other VCs?
Our approach is focused far more on providing direct operational support than other VCs.
We are a team with significant experience in scaling up early-stage businesses, in-depth understanding of different markets, proven track record in sales channel development and strong technological DNA.
We help entrepreneurs and young talent by quickly bringing new ideas to the market and accelerating their development, including preparing them for Series A funding and beyond.
Our support is via three services: funding at an early-stage level, active operational involvement with significant know-how transfer of business, managerial and technological expertise, and go-to-market support through the extensive Reply network.
From an investment standpoint, what kind of companies are most interesting for you?
Breed Reply’s focus is across the whole range of IoT verticals and horizontal supporting capabilities. So far we have invested in Health and Wellbeing, Smart Cities and Buildings, Industrial IoT, Platform Infrastructure and Cyber Security. However, what interests us most is excellent people, a technology that solves a market problem along with a sustainable and scalable business model. There are lots of IoT technologies that are great but have a limited lifespan. We want a business where we can see its value over the long-term.
What are the biggest success stories of Breed Reply so far, and do you see any exits coming up?
From a corporate perspective, last year, six of our raised in total more than $50 million in Series A funding combined, from leading investors. They were Callsign, Cocoon, enModus, Senseye, We Predict and Zeetta Networks. We view this as a terrific endorsement of our operational model. We said that we would accelerate their growth and we did.
Concerning exits, I think we are a few years away, but some of our businesses are rapidly growing.
What impact will Brexit have on Breed Reply’s business and the UK’s tech scene in general?
My view is that the UK will remain a leading tech hub. We haven’t seen any impact from Brexit so far. It is good news that places like Berlin and Paris are expanding their tech scenes, but London retains strong advantages. First, the amount and quality of investors in London and the UK is higher than you find in Europe. Second, the overall addressable market – comprised of both public and private sector organisations – is larger than that observed elsewhere which has led to a high interest in IoT. Finally, the UK is a gateway to the US market much more so than other countries.
What is the next step for Breed Reply and what are your investment plans in 2018?
We have a portfolio of 18 companies at the moment, and we want to double that over the next few years. We are continually looking for new investment opportunities. We have just launched ‘Best in Breed 7’, a Europe-wide search for IoT investment opportunities where startups with exciting innovations and products are invited to apply to us with their investment cases. The best will receive funding along with advisory and support services from Breed Reply. The closing date is 16 March 2018, and entry is via the Breed Reply website.
What is your view of the European IoT landscape?
It’s thriving, and we are excited to be able to invest across Europe, at present we have investments in the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands, Norway and Ireland. In the past few years, we have seen a lot of interest from US investors coming to Europe looking for innovative startups.