THREE QUESTIONS TO DAVID CHRENG MESSEMBOURG, FOUNDING PARTNER LEADBLOCK
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Can you start by presenting yourself?
I am David Chreng-Messembourg, a founding partner at LeadBlock Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund investing in Enterprise Blockchain start-ups. I graduated in computational chemistry and financial economics, from Imperial College London and EDHEC. I started my career working in biophysics research at Imperial College, before moving to the corporate world with Novartis. Prior to launching the fund, I was an equity analyst at Goldman Sachs covering the Energy sector and advising global fund managers. I spent the past years working on ESG-related projects, including on initiatives Big Energy companies could consider to lower carbon emissions.
Coming from an ethnic minority and growing up in a disadvantaged area, I am dedicated to giving back and to supporting talented young people to thrive. I am a mentor at Article 1 (France) and SEO London (UK), two non-profit organizations dedicated to combat ethnic and social inequalities. I was on the Board of Directors of Article 1 for four years.
I am an occasional speaker at EDHEC and Imperial College London, giving presentations on various topics from venture capital, blockchain technology to career talks. I also spend my spare time mentoring talented students and entrepreneurs at various incubators, and as a judge in start-ups competitions and hackathons.
Why did you decide to launch LeadBlock Partners?
I always thought about launching a fund, as I wanted to have a direct impact in today’s world as an investor. I am a firm believer that if we aspire to a better and more equitable future, we, early-stage investors, must raise awareness of founders on ESG, diversity and inclusion to foster change.
I first learned about Blockchain technology a decade ago when I was working on my research project, investigating DNA using quantum mechanics and computational techniques. I must admit I did not see the full potential back then, until I discovered Ethereum a few years later. Industry applications started to emerge, corporations’ interest picked up, and the value was created. Why does it matter? A few decades ago, a powerful infrastructure to connect the world was born, the Internet. Since then, E-commerce reinvented how we transact good and services, social medias revitalized how we communicate. I believe Blockchain will transform how we trust and collaborate in the Data Economy.
Long story short, I believe we are today at a tipping point for Enterprise Blockchain start-ups, with the need for specialized funds to support entrepreneurs and start-ups in Europe, the reason why I decided to launch LeadBlock Partners in 2019 with Jean-Marc Puel and Baptiste Cota.
Why do you exclude crypto and blockchain infrastructures from your investment scope?
Like the Internet in the early 80s, the protocol layer (TCP/IP, the Internet protocol suite) was the base layer, on which other elements run. Soon after, applications across industries emerged, setting up the ecosystem that is known today.
At LeadBlock Partners, we are blockchain protocol agnostic and focus solely on the application layer — (B2B) Enterprise Blockchain solutions. The application layer will become increasingly important as technology matures. I think it will play an essential role in the blockchain ecosystem, acting as a bridge to connect the decentralized and industry corporates’ worlds. Enterprise Blockchain start-ups are closely working with corporations across industries and will be best positioned to understand their needs. As such, I believe blockchain protocols will increasingly interact with Enterprise Blockchain founders to meet industry corporates’ specifications.