Currently operating between the UK and France, Brigad is helping to address the hospitality staffing crisis through its freelancer marketplace. The Paris-born startup has just secured €33 million to expand.
The hospitality industry has been struggling with a major problem in recent years: staffing. Staff shortages, a talent shortage, and a casualisation of the industry have left many companies in the hotel and restaurant business on their knees, unable to find the quality and quantity of staff that they need to operate and provide guests with what they expect.
In fact, it’s reported that in 2022 staff shortages reached critical levels – especially in the UK, where almost half of all operators cut trading hours or capacity in response, costing the industry £21 billion in lost revenue.
Brigad, founded in Paris in 2016, wants to solve the problem. The startup offers a marketplace that connects hospitality talent and businesses on a freelance and flexible basis, addressing the staffing shortage and improving worker satisfaction.
The company has just secured €33 million in a new round led by Balderton Capital to accelerate growth across Europe. Wendel Group, Serena Capital and Square Capital also joined in the round, which sees Brigad’s total fundraising to €50 million.
Co-founder and CEO Florent Malbranche: “The labour market has experienced profound changes in the last two to three years and the hospitality industry is living with the fallout. We can’t afford to lose a generation of skilled hospitality industry staff and Brigad’s platform means we don’t have to.”
Brigad’s platform provides skilled and experienced chefs, waiters, bartenders and front-of-house staff with more control over their working lives, enabling them to tap into the freelance economy. At the same time, it enables hospitality businesses to find the talent they need, when they need it, and for how long they need it – making them more dynamic and adaptable.
Currently, the platform operates across eight European cities including Paris, London, Manchester and Birmingham. Leading hotels and restaurants that use Brigad include the Berkeley Hotel in London, The Ritz, Isabel Mayfair, Mosaic Pubs, Sketch, Nobu and more.
Brigad talent and Head Chef, Wolfe Conyngham said: “I used to work crazy hours. I was always feeling burnt out and now that I have the choice, I have a balanced work life. I get to take my kids to school in the morning! This was never the case before. ”
A spokesperson for the Berkeley Hotel said: “Brigad is very adaptable! The professionals are skilled, active and reliable, and the app is so simple to use!”
The Parisian startup envisions a new approach to hospitality recruitment, shaping it to fit with the casualisation of the industry and improve employee satisfaction.
Florent Malbranche: “Brigad’s mission is to make work attractive and accessible to all and that means we respect and value the professional talent on our platform, providing them with missions that suit their skills and higher rates of pay. Working in hospitality is a career and the best establishments – whether family owned or global brands – want highly skilled talent on their teams ensuring their own high standards are upheld, their customers are happy and return, and long-term their businesses are successful and sustainable.”
Increasingly talented professionals reject the long and unsociable hours hospitality careers have traditionally required and want more flexibility and balance in their lives. It’s a challenge for big players and small independent players, giving Brigad a large addressable market.
Through Brigad’s platform, hospitality businesses post missions on the platform with a date and time. Workers can then accept the roles that fit their schedule or objectives. In this way, some 80% of missions are accepted by qualified professionals within two hours.
Brigad aims to give employees the ability to regain control over their schedule and get better pay and prospects. The company reports a 170% increase in missions posted from 2021 to 2022.
With this funding, the startup plans to expand into more European cities, with a particular focus on the UK market. It’ll also offer tools and events through the platform to the communities it serves, becoming an essential tool for management teams wanting to manage their staffing and payroll administration in one place.
David Thevenon, Partner at Balderton Capital: “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. We look forward to the journey ahead.”