December 8, 2023

before he became Fabrice do Rego is one of the few black fund managers in the EU considerable financial career. He worked first at Lehman Brothers, then at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, before eventually founding Valmeon Corporate Finance, an M&A advisory firm.

But in the years Rego has spent analyzing M&A deals and companies, he has rarely seen anyone like him in the industry. This realization, he told me, inspired him to start The Blueprint VC with Ibrahim Ouassari to support founders from underrepresented backgrounds in France and Belgium.

For do Rego, the logic behind launching The Blueprint was simple: Mixed teams with diverse backgrounds are known to perform well, but capital allocation for such teams remains low. “There’s still a lot of money on the table,” he said. So, he decided to, literally, go for the money.

Launched in December 2021, The Blueprint began raising €25 million in funding last January, and the founders hope to invest in 30 companies over the next four years. They already support two.

The firm likes to invest in mixed teams of diverse backgrounds, with a primary focus on gender and race. The blueprint focuses on seed and pre-seed rounds, with checks in the range of €100,000 to €400,000, with reserves for follow-on investments. It is industry agnostic, but does not currently invest in deep tech or biotech.

I recently caught up with do Rego about his work at The Blueprint, navigating the VC downturn, and the best way to develop the next generation of talent in the EU.

(Note: The interview below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)

TechCrunch: The €25 million fund, which has been raising for about a year, has an investment theme of diversity, a continent that has clear issues with equity and inclusion for marginalized groups. What is the process for approaching limited partners?

Fabrice du Rego: This was much more difficult than I expected.

We have a great team and I think with such a team, everything will be easy. But we’ve had some weird situations raising money, especially with institutions. Their first question was a “channel question” (asking whether France and Belgium had enough diverse talent to fund).

Another difficult thing is the difference between continental Europe and the US or even the UK – we don’t yet have a super strong and rich, interconnected black community. That’s what we lack, when you want to raise your first funding like Blueprint, you need to have LPs like this to raise your first million dollars.

The minimum target size of our fund is EUR 25 million. Below this threshold, it is difficult to own a professional fund. We want our initial closing amount to be 12 million euros, we will probably reduce it to 10 million euros because we want to deploy as much as possible and quickly.