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Seed Of The Week: Malibou

The Y Combinator alum raised a €3 million Seed Round to build out its HR and payroll platform for French SMBs. The big challenge: Proving a product that targets France can scale into a giant.

Malibou Co-Founders: CEO Maxence Drummond (left) and CTO CTO Alexandre Pernin
Malibou Co-Founders: CEO Maxence Drummond (left) and CTO CTO Alexandre Pernin

For the past decade, French entrepreneurs have been relentlessly advised to shed their provincial attitudes and set their ambitions at the global level. France is not a big enough market to successfully build a venture-backed startup.

Doctolib, the medical booking platform, has been a notable exception, becoming a unicorn with a market primarily in France. Now, the founders of Malibou believe they have found another problem to solve that would allow them to build a giant by conquering France.

Malibou has developed a platform that centralizes payroll and HR management tasks in a way that is specifically adapted to the demands of France’s notoriously byzantine financial administrative rules. The company has raised a €3 million Seed Round just after completing its stint at Y Combinator in Silicon Valley. Co-Founder and CEO Maxence Drummond said while France will remain the immediate focus, the company does eventually hope to expand beyond its borders – but is in no rush to do so.

“Our ambition is huge, but we go step by step,” Drummond said. “France is already a large enough market to build a big multi-billion company. If we are able to build something big in France, that would be an amazing track record and then the sky's the limit.”

What is Malibou?

Malibou is an all-in-one solution to simplify and centralize payroll and human resource management for French SMBs. The initial version offers tools for such tasks as managing leaves, remote work, generating pay slips, and submitting expenses.

Behind all of these, the platform seeks to ensure that all of these tasks are being done in compliance with French labor and financial regulations. Beyond the tech, Malibou also offers dedicated human payroll experts to support each client when they have questions about compliance or other administrative issues.

Drummond said Malibou is a less expensive payroll solution than another French unicorn Payfit and will include more HR features and human support. And it will also be less costly than retaining an accountant who probably wouldn’t be help on the HR compliance side.

“We're right in between these two models,” Drummond said.


The co-founders founded the company after speaking with hundreds of entrepreneurs, CFOs, HR managers, and office managers. They heard the same message over and over: There wasn't yet a modern tool in France to manage HR and payroll.

For instance, consider when an employee goes on a long-term leave, perhaps for an illness. This triggers numerous disclosure obligations that must be sent to several French administrations. Managers are often left scrambling to understand the implications for issuing pay slips. Even when an employee quits on good terms, there can be several weeks of paperwork to satisfy French bureaucratic requirements.

Drummond noted that France has more than 800 labor agreements, so the risk of violating some rules with some agencies is high. Having a single tool to manage compliance would ideally not just be efficient but would also eliminate the stress and fear that often go along with any changes in the status of employees.

Under The Hood

Malibou’s differentiator is not its tech. Drummond said its SaaS platform uses standard architecture and code. Instead, the difference is really at the conceptual level: A framework specifically designed to tackle the French administrative burden.

“You have to think in terms of all the small particularities of French payroll rules to make it easily manageable from an HR perspective,” he said. “That makes building the product more complicated. It's not so much about tech, it's about mental engineering.”

That said, the company does hope to develop internal ChatBots or other GenAI-powered solutions to help its expert advisors be more efficient. But the interactions with clients would remain human-centered, Drummond said.


Drummond co-founded Malibou with CTO Alexandre Pernin in 2023. The pair had known each other for several years before teaming up last year to start Malibou.

Previously, Drummond was a partner in the U.K. for venture firm Breega, focusing on areas such as FinTech and InsurTech at the Seed and Series A rounds. Pernin is a data scientist who co-founded another company, Lantern, that went through Y Combinator in 2019. More recently, he had been an engineer at tech consulting firm Theodo.

Having both worked for stretches in the U.S., Drummond and Pernin had used tools such as Gusto that blended payroll and HR functions. But they couldn’t find an equivalent in Europe. After interviewing founders and HR managers at SMBs, they decided there was an opportunity to build an equivalent that was optimized for Europe but starting in France.

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